The Boston Police Department agreed to withdraw the felony complaints against myself and PINAC associate Taylor Hardy on the condition that readers stop flooding their phone lines with calls demanding that they withdraw the complaints.
As if I would have any say in that.
But to paraphrase my attorney: Please. Stop. Calling. They get the message.
In other words, we did it. We won. We took their intimidation tactics and threw them right back in their face. Multiple times on multiple lines despite the threat of multiple crimes they threatened to charge us with.
We showed them the power of the people. The force of the First Amendment. The clout that can be created after a quick call to action that enabled us to raise $4,200 in 36 hours to retain one of the most experienced attorneys in Boston.
This is what attorney David Duncan had to say:
“I am happy we were able to resolve this to Carlos’ and Taylor’s satisfaction, with criminal charge applications dropped by BPD, so that Carlos and Taylor can continue their work fighting for lawfulness, openness and transparency in police work across the country. Going forward they will not let up on their vigorous defense of citizen freedom. They understand that the law in Massachusetts is that they have to tell people if they are recording a conversation, and they have assured BPD that they will always announce that they are recording when asking for recorded comments, which has always been their practice.”
Read the official statement from police at the bottom of this article.
Besides their pleas that we stop calling, they also requested that Hardy remove the video from Youtube that led to the felony complaints against us; a 30-second recorded conversation between himself and spokeswoman Angelene Richardson where he was seeking comment on another video that was going viral.
But Hardy had already removed the video because it contained absolutely no journalistic substance.
Police also asked that Hardy and anybody else associated with PINAC to inform police if they are recording them during a telephone conversation, but that is something we’ve always done.
The only reason Hardy did not do so this time was because of a technical mishap. He was using his iPad to record, but in the seconds before he informed her, he had clicked on the Safari app to bring up my story, which caused the recorder to turn off.
They also asked that I remove the phone number to Detective Nick Moore from the article in which I cut and pasted his email to me, posted below, because he was also getting slammed with phone calls.
So I agreed to remove it, even though I left his email in the article, because it reveals just how disingenuous police officers can be.
Mr. Miller,Can you please contact me at your convenience at my office, xxx-xxx-xxxx. I realize that you do not trust the police and that is fine but I assure you I am not trying to jam you up. I just wish to have a cordial conversation with you and clear the air about a few things. Please do not post my office number or email to your website as I have numerous victims of serious crimes who contact me on a daily basis and It would not be fair to them or me if my voicemail box is full and they cannot get ahold of me.My supervisors and the District Attorney’s office are aware of this request but I assure you that the conversation will just be me and you, not recorded, and again, Im not trying trap you into anything incriminating. As I relayed to Mr. Hardy I try to give everyone involved in my investigations the benefit of the doubt and speaking with you about this hopefully will accomplish that. Thank you.Detective MooreBoston Police Department
Perhaps it was naive of me, but when I received the email, I called him immediately because I wanted to do what I could to help resolve the situation with Hardy, who had received a complaint of felony wiretapping.
It wasn’t until several minutes into our conversation after I had apparently admitted to posting the statement below, that he informed me I would be facing a complaint of witness intimidation.
I have no regrets because I always stand by what I write, but it did put me into an inconvenient situation where I was suddenly facing ten years in prison.
During that conversation, Moore acknowledged that the call floods to Richardson were getting annoying, so he was hoping to put a stop to them by not only filing a complaint against me for witness intimidation, but threatening to do the same to anybody else if they continued to call her.
But that plan backfired on him.
PINAC readers not only continued to call Richardson’s line, but Moore’s line as well. Day in and day out. Hour after hour. Minute after minute.
And that was only part of their problem.
The other problem were the editorials, articles and statements from news sites, journalism organizations and law blogs that not only criticized the Boston Police Department for its intimidating tactics, but further spread the phone numbers to new readers, who wasted no time in calling.
It got to the point that as soon as you mentioned the word, “blogger,” you were immediately told to email them, then hung up on, as you can see on the comment below from Popehat.
And further increasing their problems was the introduction of a high-profile lawyer from one of Boston’s most prestigious law firms, who gave us a discounted rate because of our connection to the Digital Media Law Project.
But that still meant shelling $2,000 up front, which was more than three times the amount of what other attorneys were charging.
But it was money well spent.
Only hours after we had retained Duncan, he received a call from a police attorney asking to mediate, which is why Thursday’s hearing was postponed.
And as the attorneys mediated, the call floods continued, and the media exposure increased.
And there was pretty much nothing left for them to do but to lay their fiddle down because they knew they had been beat.
It’s been a stressful two weeks to say the least. They came at us strong and stupid, but we came back at them stronger and smarter, building up several fronts, thanks to the vast network of supporters we have.
We were prepared to go the distance. And we had several strategies in place depending on their next move. It didn’t take long for them to realize they had seriously underestimated us.
I can’t thank you guys enough for donating as much as you did on such a short notice. And for making those calls. And for spreading the stories. And for launching and signing that petition. And for calling the media.
And a big thanks to our network up in Boston, including the Digital Media Law Project for hooking us up with Duncan as well as Paul Weiskel and Antonio Buehler who were ready to photograph and live stream the hearing on Friday if the complaint did not get withdrawn as well as those of you who offered us a place to stay if we ended up flying up there as well as those of you who were ready to begin making public records requests within the police department if the case proceeded to trial.
This was, without a doubt, a community effort. But it had to be done because they were trying to create a chilling effect on free speech towards government accountability, which would have affected us all.
I plan to reinvest the remaining $2,200 in PINAC, perhaps in technical and design upgrades, merchandising, Jeff Gray’s still pending case against the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office or maybe just hold on to it until the next legal issue considering we are now prime targets for police agencies throughout the country.
But hopefully they will think twice before picking a fight because we not only get smarter after each victory, we get more organized.
PINAC may have started out as a scrappy one-man blog from Miami on a mission to beat a single court case, but there are now several of us onboard, each of us unafraid to step into the ring if we must. And we have a huge support network that expands all corners of this country and beyond willing to go the distance with us.
Hardy, a 25-year-old journalism student, who has learned more from this experience than he has in any of his classes, had the following to say:
The possibility of facing 15 combined years in prison, in another state that you have never been to, and have no idea how the system works, was the most alarming factor in this case. I want to thank ALL of you, because If not for your support, calls, emails(petitioning the government) and donations, we would not have been able to beat them at their own game. I also want to thank our attorney, David Duncan, who worked as our point of contact in Boston mediating the case and working with Carlos (which we know is hard :)). It may not be a win in court of law, but at least it’s a win in our eyes. As I step deeper into the world of government transparency, I know I have to take measures to ensure these types of tactics can’t be used against us again. #PINACSTRONG
Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.