On the night of the Occupy Miami eviction, the Miami-Dade Police Department tried its hardest not to arrest anybody.
Even the six activists who had barricaded themselves behind a wall of pallets and signs, linking arms, vowing to let themselves get arrested in defiance of the county’s order to evacuate the grounds of Government Center, were allowed to go free once the other activists had been dispersed.
The only Miami-Dade police officer who made an arrest that night was the one who told journalists she would protect them from arrest. City of Miami police, a completely different agency, made five arrests. Those charges have all been dropped.
Miami-Dade Police Major Nancy Perez, who heads the Public Information and Education Bureau, did not view me as a journalist – even though she received an email from the department’s Homeland Security Bureau 11 hours earlier, advising that “Carlos Miller is a Miami multimedia journalist” who would be documenting the eviction.
Even though she surely must have read the articles I wrote about Occupy Miami before my arrest, stemming from early October before the activists even set up their encampment on the lawn of county hall.
That is her job, after all; to keep up with local media reports involving her agency’s jurisdiction.
No, Perez viewed me as an activist, she told my attorney, Arnold Trevilla, during a deposition last month.
She viewed me as a “trouble-maker,” she told a local TV reporter whose segment has yet to run.
She viewed me as outside of her embedded clique of corporate journalists who were under her protection that night.
And that is why she had no choice but to arrest me, even though none of the other officers clad in riot gear made any attempt to arrest me or tell me I could not document the eviction.
Well, except for one quick instance when a few of them tried to block my shot of City of Miami police officers making an arrest, but things sometimes get heated in chaotic situations and I ended up getting my shot and moving on.
In the deposition, Perez told Trevilla that she told the other journalists to “stay with me or you are going to be placed under arrest.”
She told him that the other “officers knew that I was supervising them, they were with me, they were allowed to be there.”
She also admitted that at no point did she approach me and ask me if I was a member of the media, even though I had about $10,000 worth of camera gear strapped to my body.
And she also said she is pretty clueless about blogs because “they don’t put out information that is relevant to the community.”
Perhaps PINAC is not so hyper-local to Miami, but Transit Miami, Beached Miami and Eye on Miami have proven extremely relevant to the community, just to name three blogs off the top of my head. And there are many more.
And you would think the head of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s media relations department would have become familiar with some of these blogs over the years.
“I don’t know enough about the — I mean, I know nowadays all the kids blog,” is how the 26-year police veteran explained her understanding of the blogosphere.
But this is the same department where the head of the Homeland Security Bureau believes it illegal to post photos of cops online, so obviously we can’t expect much.
Perez also claimed that she had no idea how my footage ended up deleted from my camera. I ended up recovering that footage. It is posted below along with a clip shot by the police of my arrest we obtained through public records.
My attorney asked me not to shed too many details from the deposition nor to post the actual deposition because that will just make it easier for the state to build its case against me, not that it has any.
The state is welcome to pay for the transcript if it wishes.
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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.