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.
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.
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.
And 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?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.