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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Connecticut Bill Holding Cops Personally Liable Lacks Teeth

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No sooner than we started celebrating Connecticut’s passing of the bill that would hold cops personally liable for arresting citizens who record them in public that the naysayers started coming out of the woodworks insisting that the bill lacks teeth.

And they have a point.

As Mike Riggs of Reason points out, the bill “allows citizens to record police officers, so long as the police officers in question don’t object to being recorded.”

In other words, we’re back to square one where we already have the right to record cops, unless, of course, cops believe we are guilty of wirtetapping or loitering or interference or disorderly conduct or simply resisting arrest, even if there are no underlying charge to arrest us in the first place.

Riggs points out to section 1(c) of the bill, which gives cops all kinds of leeways to get away with arresting citizens who legally record them.

“A peace officer shall not be liable under subsection (b) of this section if the peace officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the peace officer was interfering with the taking of such image in order to (1) lawfully enforce a criminal law of this state or a municipal ordinance, (2) protect the public safety, (3) preserve the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation, (4) safeguard the privacy interests of any person, including a victim of a crime, or (5) lawfully enforce court rules and policies of the Judicial Branch with respect to taking a photograph, videotaping or otherwise recording an image in facilities of the Judicial Branch.”

The Citizen Media Law Project, which is recommended reading for anybody interested in these issues, also has no confidence in the bill.

Were this fact pattern under Connecticut jurisdiction, the cop could say that what he really meant was that he felt she was endangering the investigation somehow – a 1(c)(3) exception – or that somehow public safety was at risk, a 1(c)(2) exception. Does he have "reasonable grounds" for such beliefs?  Hard to say without further guidance, guidance that the bill does not give.  But I can see cops winning such an argument, despite it seeming the wrong outcome.

Then there is former Albuquerque police officer Mark G. Bralley – a longtime PINAC reader and supporter whom I wrote about in 2008 after he was kicked out of a John McCain rally for taking photos – who stated the following in an email.

Senate Bill 245, comes completely apart with:

(4) safeguard the privacy of a crime victim or other person;

or other person

That would mean any other person and would not exclude any police officer, or for that matter any corporation... thanks to the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Not as protective as you might think.

Go back and look at the Albuquerque Onlookers Policy, which applies to requests of crime victims or witnesses asking that onlookers not be allowed close enough to overhear their conversation.

Any good officer would remove a crime victim or witness to the confines of a residence, police car, office, or police station to conduct their interviews, if being subjected to videoing bothers the victim/witness.

And in a followup email:

I'm not sure the Connecticut state senate bill might make past basic employment contract law and I am sure it won't fare well in actual negotiations that would uncover officers who are otherwise working within their scope of duties.

Don't get me wrong here, but it could get a bit sticky.  As you know I believe people have an absolute right to hold their hired help accountable. 

Officers are covered when they act in their formal capacity for a government, as long as they do so within the scope of their duties.

The definition of, "within the scope of their duties," is not always as cut and dry as many would like to believe.

I like the idea of stripping coverage from officers, but I think it already exists, one has to be able to get to a court where it can be applied.

Glik v Boston was exactly the answer to that question.  The Boston officers lost their qualified immunity because the court ruled that they should have know that the charge of wiretapping was no longer a legal charge by court ruling.

I think one has to figure out what we want, in terms of language that will, make the narrow point, without having to get away from the First's protection.

This first blush skepticism will go away as different ideas get knocked around and some workable ideas start to take hold. 

I understand why and where Connecticut is trying to go, but it is threading a needle of enforcement against the bad actors who will try to hide behind the immunity shield. We want to pierce the shield, without destroying the reason it exists for good actions.

Bralley is an interesting person to get to know because of his longtime police experience as well as his longtime support for First Amendment journalistic protections.

Learn more about him on his site, The Blue Flyer or on his blog, What’s Wrong With This Picture.

Here is a piece he wrote for the police union’s newsletter back in 1999 about a meeting between journalists, including National Press Photographers Association representatives, and police to improve relations.


Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

 Hair Transplant 

Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I'm documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested.

Read More »

PINAC Celebrates Its 5-Year Anniversary By Introducing Citizen Journalism Press Pass

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Three arrests. Eleven charges. Multiple assaults. Countless threats. One pending lawsuit. Another future lawsuit. And a single conviction I had reversed on appeal.

And let’s not forget the more than 7.3 million page views racked up along the way, the countless media interviews and a slate of public talks throughout the country where I’ve educated people on their rights to take pictures in public.

Happy Birthday, PINAC. These last five years have been quite a ride.

And thanks to you, the readers; the ones who’ve been here from the beginning, the ones who hopped on board since, the ones who comment daily and the ones who never comment.

Even the ones who never have a nice thing to say about me.

On this five-year anniversary of Photography is Not a Crime, I introduce the above logo that will be on the soon-to-be-available PINAC press badges.

The press pass will not give you any more legal rights than without it but many times, it makes police officers feel more comfortable while you legally document them.

That way when they ask for "credentials," you have something to show them. It's not misrepresenting yourself because many of your videos end up on this site anyway.

In fact, it shows a sense of legitimacy because it will require to have your real name and photo on it, so those of you who are adamant about not identifying yourself to police won't have much use for it.

I personally have no problem stating my first and last name to police officers on the streets because I am not doing anything illegal. I do have a problem with them demanding my identification when they have no legal basis because that is just a form of intimidation.

We just finalized the logo last night, so it will take a few days to create the actual press pass. The logo will also available on t-shirts, caps and bumper stickers.

There will also be other designs and logos, but this one is the official logo for now.

The entire line of items will be available at PINAC Nation, the site we are creating to sell these items.

Thanks to my good friend Grant Stern, who agreed to invest in this venture, we plan to release an attractive line of items over the next few months.

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The above design was created by Christian Pacheco from a concept conjured by Grant and I as we were hanging out on my balcony after a night of boozing.

I’ll let you guys describe in your own words the message it sends out. Really, I'm curious to hear your feedback on the design.

But with the PINAC press pass comes responsibility. You will need to abide by strict journalistic ethics and guidelines, which I will lay out in a future post.

My goal is to legitimize citizen journalism in the eyes of police, so the press pass will identify you as a member of the PINAC press corps when out shooting on the streets.

I'm aware that some people don't like the term "citizen journalist" and I'm not exactly sold on it either but that's the term being used right now, so we'll stick with it.

The press pass won’t gain you access into concerts or sporting events or allow you to swindle free meals at restaurants. It would specifically state that on the back and breaking those guidelines would get the press pass revoked immediately.

And if that happens too often, the whole project will be dismantled because I am not going to risk my journalistic reputation over a few people who can’t handle the responsibility that comes with the press pass.

Legally speaking, there should be no need for a press pass because credentialed journalists don’t have any more legal rights than non-credentialed citizens.

But the laws on the street are different and a press pass can mean the difference between being allowed to record police or getting arrested.

However, even the press pass won’t guarantee that you won’t get arrested as we’ve seen happen to many credentialed mainstream media journalists over the last few years.

The bottom line is that the press pass will inform the cops that you are shooting for a legitimate news site. And like in any news site, there is never a guarantee the footage will actually make it on this site.

But there is also a good chance it will make it on this site if the cop treats you with respect or if he treats you with disrespect. I would like to highlight the good cops just as much as the bad cops.

The rest of the items that will be available for sale won’t come with the strict press pass guidelines, although I do ask that you don’t make an ass out of yourself while wearing a PINAC t-shirt.

My goal is to continue operating PINAC for another five years if not more, so I need to make it as financially feasible as possible.

I lost my job at Miami Beach 411, so that took a significant chunk of money out of my monthly income. Especially at a time when I needed it most considering my escalating legal battle against the Miami-Dade Police Department.

But I’m confident everything will work itself out, including with my court case and my financial situation. I’m not one to stay down for long.

Initially, I wanted to write a long drawn-out post about the highlights I’ve experienced while running this site, but there are far too many.

If you’re interested in that, check out my End of the Year Reviews I did in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

All I can say is that when I first launched this blog, I was so clueless about blogging that I posted my first article in the comments section and was immediately called on it.

Well, that comment came after a few insults in my "about" section, which was lost when I made the transfer to Pixiq.

I dug in my Wordpress archives and made a screenshot just to give you an idea of the reception PINAC received when it was first launched.

You need to read from the bottom up to get the proper time sequence. I cut out the names of the commenters because it also included their emails and IP addresses. And some have become supporters.

Then there was this gem under my first actual post.

You are in desperate need of a well deserved ass kicking. You liberal, trouble-making piece of shit.

judgefernandez.jpgAnd then there was Judge Jose Fernandez who after allowing inadmissible evidence into the trial against me, resulting in a conviction for resisting arrest, telling me he was “shocked” at my “lack of remorse.”

For taking photos? 

And the doubters and haters continued to pour it on as I worked on my appeal, telling me I had no chance in hell in having that conviction reversed.

They were wrong.

Winning that appeal was the most memorable moment of running this site because it sent out the message that I wasn’t fucking around.

That I would go down fighting with my last breath before they shut me up.

And even if they finally do shut me up, even if they do bash my face into the sidewalk like they did that first time, even if they do it to the point where I can’t speak or write anymore, the words I’ve written on this blog over the last five years will remain alive and kicking.

And nobody will ever take that away from me.

But these cops still don’t get it.

It was less than three months ago when Miami-Dade Police Major Nancy Perez had me arrested hours after she received an email from the department’s Homeland Security Bureau advising that I would be documenting the Occupy Miami eviction, an incident in which the footage of my arrest was deleted.

Did she really think I would go down quietly?

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The War on Photography is far from won but we, as citizens, are much more educated about our rights than we were five years ago.

And that was the whole point of this blog; to remind police, photographers and everyday citizens that photography is not a crime.

And with that, we’ve created a national movement that is just now gaining momentum.

And I call that movement PINAC Nation.

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P.S. Just as I finished writing this piece, my Facebook friend, Steve Berke, a standup comedian who ran for Mayor of Miami Beach last year, tagged me in a Facebook post with the following:

LA just launched the inaugural train line that goes from Culver City to Downtown LA. It was a big celebration for the city, and they made all the trains free today. So I went with a few friends and we were excited for the inaugural run, so we brought some snacks. Midway through the hour long train ride, two cops kicked me off the train and then gave me a $75 ticket for having a Tostitos tortilla chip in my mouth, even though there were no signs on the train saying you weren't allowed to eat. I caught the entire disgraceful act on camera. 7 minutes of video of two LAPD cops harassing me, and me standing up to them and verbally abusing them. I could feel one of them wanting to arrest me, until I busted out my camera and started recording everything. I am going to make the two cops YouTube stars. Thanks Carlos Miller for educating me on my rights to film the police.

 

Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

 Hair Transplant 

Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I'm documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested.

Read More »

Poll: Do You Agree With The Federal Judge That Photos Of Bin Laden's Body Should Remain Censored?

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A federal judge ruled Thursday that photos of Osama bin Laden’s body must remain censored to the public eye in the name of national security.

According to CNN:

Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, had asked the Department of Defense to comply with a Freedom of Information request for the material, especially photos of the September 11 mastermind lying dead on the third floor of his Pakistan hideout.

The group argued it was being "irreparably harmed" by the Obama administration's "unlawful withholding of requested records."

But Judge James Boasberg ruled Thursday there were legitimate national security interests to deny disclosure.

"A picture may be worth a thousand words. And perhaps moving pictures bear an even higher value," said the Washington-based judge. "Yet, in this case, verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama bin Laden will have to suffice, for this court will not order the release of anything more."

In other words, Boasberg believes the photos of bin Laden’s body would incite more violence against the United States than the 10-year war we’ve been waging in their country that has so far led to the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians.

I believe in complete government transparency, so I believe the photos should be made public.

What do you think?

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Judge Grants Continuance In My Case; Things Look Promising

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My court date went extremely well. We received the continuance we were seeking on the basis that we needed to depose four more officers.

At first, Judge Edward Newman wanted to proceed with the trial in the name of efficiency but when he heard about the deletion of footage, he mentioned something about “spoliation of evidence” and didn’t look too pleased that it had happened.

Miami-Dade Major Nancy Perez was in the courtroom, looking extremely stressed, never making eye contact with me once.

My attorney, Arnold Trevilla, brought in another attorney to help with the research to get to the truth.

And Robert Chandler, who has been the driving force behind obtaining all these public records, has sent more requests seeking information from officers higher in the chain of command.

One of the people I want to depose is Rick Bravo, the videographer who recorded my arrest because I believe he is the only one with the knowledge to delete footage from the Canon XA 10.

He works in the same division as Perez and remained close to her throughout the night.

A few days after my arrest, Bravo was nominated for a recognition award for all his years of dedicated service to the department.

It doesn’t appear that he is a certified officer although I’ve been hearing from sources that he is.

However, an extensive database compiled by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune listing all officers in Florida did not list an Enrique Bravo, which is his legal name.

The other cops we might depose are Mario Martinez and Luis Sanchez, the officers who took me into custody under Perez’s commands.

I remember they handcuffed me and walked me to a patrol car and placed all my gear on top of the trunk as they were frisking me.

All my gear minus my video camera.

I remember looking back and calling out for my video camera and one of them telling me not to worry, that they will get my camera.

I was placed in a paddy wagon with a couple of other arrestees and about an hour later, either Sanchez or Martinez opened the door to take my information.

He had my video camera, which he placed in a large paper bag and told me I could retrieve it at the police station once I was released because that, along with all my other camera gear, was too large for the jail impound.

Those cops were professional and had no reason to delete my footage. And even if they did, it would have taken them a while to figure it out under the assumption that it takes someone with knowledge of professional cameras to delete that footage.

And that person might be Bravo.

The irony of all this is that I was watching Bravo shooting the eviction the entire night and I was impressed with his camera and his obvious skills.

I wanted to strike up a conversation with him about cameras the way we camera nerds sometimes do.

I also want to make it clear that I am just stating my suspicions and I’m not directly accusing him of deleting my footage.

However, I did bring up his name in court when the judge asked whom we wanted to depose, so Perez surely relayed the information back to him, so I might as well just lay it all out there for my readers.

We do have a lot more evidence as to the deletion of footage that I cannot expand on at this moment.

And we have witnesses that have come forward.

But it will all come out sooner or later.

We will soon obtain the transcripts of Perez's deposition, so that should shed more light on the case.

I know they are watching everything I write and that’s ok with me because I am sticking to the truth, something they have had trouble doing in the past.

But I am also watching them. In more ways than they realize.

I also want to thank those of you who have donated to my legal defense fund via PayPal.

I’m still trying to get the Kick Starter campaign going, but it requires them to confirm my bank account and because I moved my money to a credit union, this process can take up to seven days.

So much for that personalized service I was seeking when switching from Bank of America.


 

Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Read More »

WikiLeaks Truck Owner Arrested For Photographing Cops; Image Deleted


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Metropolitan Transit Authority police arrested a man for photographing them at Penn Station in New York City this afternoon – deleting his photo – before releasing him from a jail cell an hour later.

Clark Stoeckley was issued a summons charging him with “engaging in threatening behavior.”

“I was walking through Penn Station and I came across these MTA cops with semi-automatic weapons,” he said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.

“I stopped to take a photo and the cop came up to me and arrested me. I asked, ‘why am I being arrested?’

“’Because you’re a dick,’” the officer responded.

While in custody, Stoeckley asked the cop why he felt threatened by a cell phone when he was carrying a semi-automatic gun.

"'Because it could have been a phone gun,'"  the cop responded.

Last year, MTA police arrested Joey Boots for shooting video of armed soldiers inside Penn Station because they also feared his camera was a weapon. Those charges were eventually dropped.

Having just been released from custody, Stoeckley was on his way home where he will attempt to recover the deleted image from his iPhone. I recommended PhotoRec, which helped me recover the footage that was deleted after Miami-Dade Police Major Nancy Perez arrested me during the Occupy Miami eviction.

Stoeckley, a 29-year-old artist, is notorious for driving the WikiLeaks Truck, a truck he painted to raise awareness for Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who is imprisoned for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Other than that, Stoeckley has no connection to Manning or WikiLeaks, the organization that has published or released to media all sorts of classified documents regarding the American wars overseas.

After Stoeckley was released this afternoon, he tweeted of his arrest, which prompted me to contact him for an interview. He sent me his number and when I called, the first thing I heard was a recorded message warning me that his phone was being monitored by the FBI.

The WikiLeaks Truck became a common fixture at Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street encampment.

At one point, police arrested him while distributing blankets to Occupy Wall Street activists when he refused to allow them to search the truck, an incident he caught on video.

When they impounded the truck, it ended up going missing.

Stoeckley had to get a judge to track it down. When he finally found it in an impound lot, a New York City police officer gave him a jump start because the battery had gone dead.

But when Stoeckley tried to video record the generous action, he was threatened with arrest for recording a public official on public property.

Check out that video here because it's not embedding below as I attempted.

 


Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Read More »

Nancy Perez Claims She Had No Idea Who I Was When She Arrested Me Despite Email She Received Informing Her

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Despite having just gone through surgery, I will still be required to attend my trial today (Wednesday) against Miami-Dade Major Nancy Perez who arrested me covering the Occupy Miami movement, just another example of the double-standard that applies to police officers because my two previous trials were delayed when officers called in "sick."

Perez also claimed in a deposition last week that she had no idea whom I was when she arrested me.

However, an email obtained through public records listed her as one of recipients of an email from the department’s Homeland Security Bureau warning officers of my presence as I mentioned in yesterday's article.

The email included my photo where I struck my best Al Qaeda pose by wearing a fedora and flashing a peace sign.

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You can read the entire collection of emails here by downloading the PST file, importing the file into Outlook, then clicking on "root items." The link wasn't working in yesterday's article but should be working now.

I mentioned towards the bottom of yesterday’s article, I underwent a hair transplant surgery that has been in the works for months, even before Perez arrested me, then most likely ordered my footage deleted.

Dr. Ricardo Mejia agreed to do the surgery in exchange for me documenting my recovery and results on this site. In effect, to promote him.

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I’ve been on serious pain meds since yesterday and have been advised to stay out of the sun. He also wrote a letter stating I should “limit my activities” for at least two weeks.

But whatever, I’ll go into the courthouse in a few hours to face whatever they have in store for me.

Double-standards

 During my 2008 trial of my 2007 arrest, Miami Police Officer Anthonius Kurver claimed he was sick, which prompted Judge Jose Fernandez to postpone the trial.

This is how I described it in my May 5, 2008 article.

Miami Police Officer Marvalyn Reid, second from right in the banner photo, was unable to attend the trial because she is on military leave.

And Miami Police Officer Anthonius Kurver, far right, was unable to attend the trial because he was sick.

How convenient of him.

Coincidentally, during my 2010 trial of my 2009 arrest, Miami Beach police officer David Socarras also claimed to be sick, prompting Judge Jose Fernandez to postpone the trial.

That is when my attorney, Arnold Trevilla, asked him to recuse himself on the basis that I had just had my prior conviction overturned on appeal on the basis that the panel of appellate judges determined he had “abused his discretion” as a judge in handing me a harsher sentence than sought by the prosecutor on the basis he was “shocked at my lack of remorse.”

Sorry, judge, I will never feel remorseful for photographing cops against their wishes.

This is how I described it in my January 12, 2010 article.

Miami Beach Police Officer David Socarras claimed to be sick, just as Miami Police Officer Anthonius Kurver claimed to be sick on a trial date of my previous case.

Had it been me who was sick, I would have needed a doctor’s note or else be faced with an arrest warrant.

But police officers have a lot more credibility than me and you. At least in certain courtrooms.

When asked to recuse himself, Judge Fernandez acted confused, claiming he had not read the appeal mandate, asking if he was required by the appellate court to do so.

He then recused himself. Otherwise we would have filed a motion to have him recused.

Socarras didn’t show up to the second trial either in which Judge Ed Newman, a former Miami Dolphin football player, dismissed the case without hesitation.

Newman is the assigned judge in this case as well, so I least I know he is much less biased than Fernandez, who before he became a judge, was an attorney for the Police Law Enforcement Association, the South Florida police union.

PLEA is a multi-ethnic police employee organization whose primary objective is to ensure its membership fair and equitable treatment by their respective Law enforcement Agencies. In order to guarantee this protection, PLEA's in-house legal counsel provides immediate and efficient legal defense when needed. The Association's continued success is derived from our reputation. All members of the Executive Board, as well as the Association's attorneys are on 24-hour call in order to better serve our membership. As a member you are guaranteed the services of the PLEA Board of Directors and its representative to include the services of an attorney, and not an Association Membership Representative.

According to Judge Newman’s Wikipedia page, his associations include Miami Dolphins Alumni Board of Directors, the University of Miami – School of Law – Alumni Board, and the Board of Transition, Inc.

Anyway, we plan on asking for a continuance, not on the basis that I am recovering from surgery but that we need to fully prepare for the trial.

But because we have much more investigating to do, including obtaining the full internal affairs reports of Nancy Perez in which she was suspended for three days after she "falsified" and "misrepresented"  reports, according to her employee log.

We also need to do more depositions because we are just now scratching the surface of the truth.

Eventually, we will find out who deleted the footage. And that is probably why they’ve been bull rushing this trial even though in my last two trials, it took more than a year for the first one to go to court and more than six months for the second one.

Here it’s taken less than three months.

And contrary to how reluctant Kurver and Socarras were in attending my first two trials, Perez seems very eager, according to the emails we obtained, including one that states the following:

Good morning, FYI Carlos Miller is scheduled to go to court on March 28, 2012, at the Metro Justice Building, Room# 6-6 @ 10:30 a.m.  Have a Blessed day!

Did I mention she told my attorney she was a good, Christian woman? Maybe that's why she thinks she is above the law.

So anyway, I need money and I need it fast.

Many of you have been very generous in donating to my legal defense fund but it hasn’t begun to pay for the costs involved in what this is turning out to be.

My attorney, Arnold Trevilla, has taken on another attorney to help him with this case. I will meet the new attorney tomorrow morning.

But we need at least $5,000 to keep this going. If they dismiss the case, then that money will be applied to the civil suit I plan on filing afterward.

So I’ve launched a Kick Starter campaign to raise $5,000. I've been trying to set it up for the past two hours but they are still requiring me to jump through all kinds of hoops, so I will leave you with the preview page for now because I need to get to bed to be in court by 8 a.m. or else they will put a bench warrant out on me. 

Keith Robertson, who sells the Zap Rag photographer rights lens cloths and neck badges, said he will donate half of the proceeds to my legal defense fund. You just need to write "carlos3" in the apppropriate section in the order form.

Or you can just donate straight through my Paypal account.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

Some of you have wondered if I would pay you back if I end up winning big in the civil suit.

I would love to come up with some type of proposal where I can do that but still retain a few thousand dollars to invest in new camera gear if I eventually win a settlement, especially equipment that would enable me to secure my footage online as soon as it is recorded so when they do try to delete it, we have a permanent record of it.

So I would love to hear from my readers as to what kind of proposal would you like to strike by donating to this case. Remember, this is not just about me, but about all of us.

And I'll put whatever agreement we come up with on this blog so you can hold me to it.

To me, it’s really not about the money but about ensuring these cops think twice before arresting photographers and deleting their footage.

Because if it were about the money, I would have quit long ago and focused on paying back all the debts I accrued from my first arrest in which I maxed out three credit cards, even though I did have significant help from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Unfortunately, justice doesn’t come cheap.

UPDATE:

Judge Ed Newman gave us a continuance to depose four more cops when he heard about the destruction of evidence. He wasn't too happy about that.

What a breath of fresh air it is to have a fair judge for a change.

The last judge, Jose Fernandez, is a former attorney for the Professional Law Enforcement Association, which is the South Florida police union, so he hated me from the beginning.

Nancy Perez was there. She was looking very stressed, never making eye contact with me. She has no authority in that courtroom and it unsettles her.

And the prosecutor looked way over his head. The last prosecutor, Ignacio Vazquez, as much trash as I talked about him on my blog, was a very talented, savvy and aggressive attorney.

I respected him as my adversary.

Also, my attorney, Arnold Trevilla, brought in a young attorney fresh out of law school to assist in this case. He will be doing the research and investigations and seems very eager about this case.

Also, I stood before the judge and explained how I recovered the footage and he seemed impressed.

We are on the verge of nailing them big time.

 


 

Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Read More »

MDPD’s Homeland Security Bureau Was Monitoring My FB Page Hours Before My Arrest

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Eleven hours before I was arrested during the Occupy Miami eviction in January, the Miami-Dade Police Homeland Security Bureau sent an email to various police officers, which was then forwarded to the department’s public information officers – including arresting officer Major Nancy Perez - informing them that I would be documenting the action.

The subject of the email was “Multimedia information/Situational Awareness.” It included my Facebook profile photo where I'm trying my hardest to look like a terrorist thug.

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It also included the following statement about me.

Carlos Miller is a Miami multimedia journalist who has been arrested twice for taking pictures of law enforcement.  He has publicly posted on social networks that he will be taking pictures today in order to document the eviction.

The email makes it clear that the Homeland Security Bureau was monitoring my Facebook page since before my arrest – not that I have an issue with that considering I have my profile set to public.

But it also makes it clear that Perez should have known exactly who I was when she singled me out from a horde of other journalists documenting the eviction and had me arrested.

Perhaps that is the exact reason why she had me arrested.

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Even more compelling is why did Detective Maritza Aschenbrenner of the Homeland Security Bureau feel the need to advise officers of my presence when there were going to be countless other reporters and activists also documenting the eviction with cameras?

Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, who has fired off two letters to Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus over my arrest and the treatment of an América TeVe reporter, is also flabbergasted.

“I find it very troubling that a unit formed to deal with terrorist activities found it necessary to send out an email advising other departments and law enforcement officers that a journalist would be covering a newsworthy matter of public concern,” he wrote in an email after I sent him a copy of the email in question.

“It would be best if they followed their own directives that photography is a First Amendment protected activity and ‘should not be reported absent articulable facts and circumstances that support the suspicion that the behavior observed is not innocent . . .  but rather reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism or other crimes.’

“Unfortunately it appears that by their very actions they continue sustain the misguided belief that by its very nature photography is a crime. At best – behavior that chills free speech is extremely unprofessional – at worst it is criminal.”

Perhaps I’ve been on their radar ever since the department’s Homeland Security Bureau responded to the 2010 incident where Stretch Ledford and I were detained for taking pictures on the Miami-Dade Metrorail, an incident that led to us getting “permanently banned” from the Metrorail.

Not that I ever took that ban seriously as I proved a month later when I returned with a news crew only to get assaulted by a security guard for shooting video inside the station, an incident that prompted me to file a lawsuit that is still pending.

Public Records Request

The above-mentioned email is one of more than 200 emails obtained through a public records request made by Robert Chandler, brother of Joel Chandler, who was recently honored by the Knight Foundation for his work in keeping government transparent.

Robert Chandler, who runs Raw Dash Cam, also previously obtained the video footage of my arrest through a public records request as well as the total costs in overtime to evict the encampment, which resulted in a single arrest. Yes, me.

The five others that were jailed that night were arrested by City of Miami police and have since had their charges dismissed.

In his request, Robert Chandler asked for “all emails sent or received by any and all email accounts used by Major Nancy Perez from January 30, 2012 to March 14, 2012 that contain any of the following keywords -  ‘Carlos Miller,’ ‘Photographer,’ ‘PINAC’ and ‘occupy.’”

On Thursday, I picked up a PST file from containing 214 emails from Bill Lyons, a legal advisor from the Miami-Dade Police Department’s legal bureau.

Lyons, who was very professional and courteous in person, charged me $23 for the records.

The very first email in the file was the one where the Homeland Security Bureau was advising other cops of my presence at the Occupy eviction, proving that you can’t get anything past those sleuths.

After all, this is a bureau that lists “Inappropriate Photographs or Videos” in a PDF titled “Signs of Terrorism” on its website.

It also lists “surveillance” as the number one sign of terrorism in another PDF titled “The Eight Signs of Terrorism.”

Someone recording or monitoring activities. This may include the use of cameras (either still or video), note taking, drawing diagrams, annotating on maps, or using binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices

The Homeland Security Bureau also provides a Suspicious Activity Report form that encourages citizens to report suspicious behavior, which, of course, includes photography.

More Emails

So given this paranoia about photography, it is no wonder why Major Glenn Stolzenberg, who heads the department’s Homeland Security Bureau, believes it was illegal of me to have posted Perez’s photo in this article, even though the photo was obtained through the department’s own website, making it a public record.

When Stolzenberg, pictured above, received an email from fellow officers informing him about my article in which I first had identified Perez as my arresting officer, he stated the following in his response:

Thanks Maggie. Please have someone take a look at this. There maybe a statute that deals with posting pictures of LE officers.

Fortunately, another officer named Brandy Conway had enough sense to know that I was not breaking the law when I posted Perez’s photo.

I do not think there is anything that prohibits this type of open source reporting.  The picture was obtained through the unsecured webpage and there is no threat or slander in the post.  Either way, I contacted Bob Diers from Legal, who advised that under FSS 119.071 it is unlawful for the governmental agency to release photographs or personal information of officers, but not for media to release the pictures.  At this time, he has not violated any laws regarding the release of the photo or the post but this is something we definitely must keep an eye on.  Some tactics used by activist groups involve harassment and that would violate numerous statutes depending on the methods they utilize.  We will continue to monitor the sites and postings of Mr. Miller and ask that Major Perez please keep us notified of any contact made by this individual or his representatives/supporters.

In another email, Perez mentioned that some commenters on this blog were making physical threats against her, but I have reviewed the comments in the article and have not seen anything like that.

Just to be clear, physical threats against anybody is something I won’t tolerate on this site. I really didn't agree with the disparaging remarks about her appearance but I tolerated it because it is protected speech.

Remember, it was her who insinuated that she and fellow officers would physically hurt me if I gave them the slightest provocation when she said, “we don’t want to have to hurt you” at 4:17 in the video below.

I won't stoop down to that level.

 

As I continued writing about Perez in my updates, Aschenbrenner of the Homeland Security Bureau continued keeping tabs on my blog, passing along the articles to Perez.

In one mail, she sent Perez this piece, stating the following:

Hello Major Perez,

Have you seen this article?  It was posted last night at 9:40pm.

Carlos Miller is on his high horse again.  He continues to post negative statements regarding law enforcement.  I will continue to monitor for additional information.

Perez responded with:

No I actually had not seen it.  Thank you for sending it to me.  Also, multiple demonstrators have begun to call my office wanting to engage me in conversation about Mr. Miller.  Just an FYI

And Aschenbrenner responded with:

Interesting.  Like I said before, this guy is targeting you and I believe he is trying to get some monetary gain as well as publicity.

Perez, who told my attorney during last week’s deposition that she is a good Christian woman, responded with the following:

No worries.

Romans 12:19

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

There was also a discussion as to whether or not police officers would be attending a panel discussion that I was sitting on where we were discussing the right to document police activity during demonstrations.

Officers decided not to attend when they realized they could view it through live stream.

In the panel, I mentioned that I plan to drive up to Tampa in August to document the demonstrations outside the Republican National Convention, which, of course, prompted another “situational awareness” where I’m sure Tampa authorities will be warned of my presence.

Here is Aschenbrenner’s recap of what I said during the panel discussion.

Carlos Miller repeatedly mentioned his recent arrest and how he has previously dealt with the police.

 *Carlos Miller stated he intends to to attend the RNC in Tampa August 27-30, 2012 to record and document the event.

Proper notifications will be made for situational awareness purposes.

Most of the emails were not related to me and some reveal a sense of humor as you can see in this photo of a Miami police officer pretending to be sleeping in the trunk of his car in an email stating, “Taking a break after the Occupy Miami Takedown!”

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Perez forwarded the email to Delrish Moss, the public information officer at Miami police, with the words, “FYI / for your eyes only.  Please remind them that someone is always watching.”

Yes, it’s true. Somebody is always watching. They are watching me. And I am watching them.

As long as we all keep it legal and civil, neither side should have anything to worry about.

If you want to read through all the emails, download the PST file here. You will need to import it into Outlook, then click on "root items." At least that's how I got it to work on a Mac.

Now some unrelated news

I will be getting a hair transplant today, Monday, April 23rd, which will be live streamed if anybody is interested in watching a doctor slice away at my scalp only to transfer hair follicles to the front of my head.

Dr. Ricardo Mejia offered to do the hair transplant in exchange of me documenting my experiences on this blog.

I figure that as long as police insist on arresting me for completely legal behavior, I might as well look the best I can for my mug shots.

carlos_mugshot.jpg

I imagine the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Homeland Security Bureau will be tuning in to the live stream for situational awareness. After, of course, they notify the Jupiter Police Department of my camera-carrying presence in their sleepy coastal town.

After all, you just never know what I might say under anesthesia.


Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Read More »

Cops Would Be Liable Arresting Citizens For Recording Under Approved Conn. Bill

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The Connecticut state senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow citizens to sue police officers who arrest them for recording in public, apparently the first of its kind in the nation.

As it is now, cops act with reckless immunity knowing the worst that can happen is their municipalties (read: taxpayers) would be responsible for shelling out lawsuits.

Senate Bill 245, which was introduced by Democratic Senator Eric Coleman and approved by a co-partisan margin of 42-11, must now go before the House.

The bill, which would go into effect on October 1, 2012, states the following:

This bill makes peace officers potentially liable for damages for interfering with a person taking a photograph, digital still, or video image of either the officer or a colleague performing his or her job duties. Under the bill, officers cannot be found liable if they reasonably believed that the interference was necessary to (1) lawfully enforce a criminal law or municipal ordinance; (2) protect public safety; (3) preserve the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation; (4) safeguard the privacy of a crime victim or other person; or (5) enforce Judicial Branch rules and policies that limit taking photographs, videotaping, or otherwise recording images in branch facilities.

Officers found liable of this offense are entitled, under existing law, to indemnification (repayment) from their state or municipal employer if they were acting within their scope of authority and the conduct was not willful, wanton, or reckless.

Although the bill does include exemptions, opponents, including a police officer, wanted to tack on three more exemptions, according to The Day.

The first, offered by Sen. Kevin Witkos, a sergeant in the Canton Police Department, called for an additional liability exemption if a person intended to “inconvenience or alarm” an officer in the performance of duty.

Witkos said he supported the underlying principle of the bill but wanted to make sure there were safeguards against ill-intentioned videographers who seek to interfere with police.

“I do believe that the public has a right, if they’re not in the way of a police officer doing their job, of filming all they want,” he said.

But Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said the Witkos amendment would create too large a loophole. “It really would render the bill without meaning,” he said.

Looney also noted that interfering with an officer is already a crime and would remain so.

The other failed amendments would have exempted Capitol building police from liability and would have shifted the burden of proof onto the person bringing a lawsuit.

According to the Hartford Courant, the bill was inspired by the 2009 incident in which a priest was arrested for video recording cops inside a store shaking down immigrants, which led to a Department of Justice investigation and the arrest of four officers.


Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Read More »

Miami-Dade Cop Attacks Innocent Man Before Turning On News Crew (updated)


A Miami-Dade cop who claimed he was looking for a robbery suspect confronted an innocent man who was standing in front of his home, threatening to tase him before grabbing by him his neck, slamming him to the sidewalk and throwing him into the back of his patrol car Thursday.

When officer Thomas realized that 26-year-old Jorge Soto was not the man he was looking for, he released him.

But when a Spanish language news crew arrived on the scene to interview the cop, he ordered them to turn off the camera, demanding their identifications.

Officer Thomas ended up writing three citations to the news videographer, including one for not wearing a seatbelt, even though the cameraman was not even inside his car at the time.

The incident began when Thomas pulled up to Soto and demanded his identification. When Soto told him he had no identification with him, that he was standing in front of his own home, Thomas grabbed him by his neck and slammed him down, according to Soto and various witnesses.

América Tevé reporter Ernesto Morales Licea, who has been an avid Photography is Not a Crime reader ever since I was invited on his network to speak about my last arrest in February, did an excellent job of standing up to the cop when he turned on them, ordering to turn off their camera.

It was only a few years ago that Morales was a journalist in Cuba so he knows all too well about governmental suppression of the press.

And he’s not about to let that happen too easily in the United States.

Thomas is now being investigated by internal affairs, according to Morales’ report.

The video clip is in Spanish and you might be required to watch more than a minute of promos before it actually starts.

UPDATE: Minutes after this story was published on PINAC, the National Press Photographers Association fired off a letter to the Miami-Dade Police Department complaining about the retaliation Officer Thomas displayed against the news crew for recording him against his wishes.

Also, Morales, the reporter in this story, has an interesting story himself.

Morales was a journalist in Cuba, meaning he was working for the state media. He ended up leaving the job when the government attempted to influence his writing. He launched a blog, then defected to the United States in 2010:

According to the Miami Herald:

Top News: Cuban journalist and author of the blog "El Pequeño Hermando," Ernesto Morales Licea, left the island for Miami on Tuesday, with plans to work as a journalist in the United States.

After studying journalism at the University of Oriente, Morales went to work for state media in the eastern town of Bayamo. Morales' disagreements with the state's editorial line put him in constant conflicts that boiled over when Cuban hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo died, Morales told Cancio. "I was in an ethical conflict, because they obligated me to take sides and do interviews with artists and intellectuals to back up the government position, when in reality I was against it," Morales said. 

After leaving state journalism, Morales began a the blog El Pequeño Hermano in July, gaining notoriety soon after when his work was recommended by famous Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez on her Twitter account. (Morales had interviewed Sánchez for a post published by Claudia Cadelo's blog Octavo Cerco in April.)

In November, Morales denounced a series of intricate, online defamation attacks that he believes were coordinated by Cuban authorities. Morales outlined the story in a blog post entitled "Dissecting a Modus Operandi." 

I've been talking to Morales who said he will continue working this story, including obtaining video from a nearby surveillance camera that might have caught Thomas' assault on Soto. He also plans to dedicate another report on the right to record police in public.

As I said earlier, he didn't come to this country to be told he does not have the right to record police in public.

Also, Miami blogger Randon Pixels dedicated the this blog post to Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus.

 


 

Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Read More »

Facebook Photo Lands Kentucky Man In Jail

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As stupid as Michael Baker is, he should consider himself lucky he didn’t poison himself while siphoning gasoline from a police car in Kentucky last month.

Instead, the 20-year-old incriminated himself by posting a photo of his crime on Facebook.

Not even the four-leaf clover on his cap could save him there.

The Jenkins resident went from smiling brazenly while flipping off the camera to solemnly staring into the camera for his mugshot.

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In a town of just over 2,000 residents, it probably didn’t take long for the photo to extend beyond Baker’s network of 380 Facebook friends.

Just over six weeks after he posted the photo, the Jenkins Police Department issued a warrant out for his arrest, according to The Smoking Gun.


Please send stories, tips and videos to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write "carlos3" in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Read More »

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