It turns out, the photographer who snapped the photo of the photographer wrestling down a Black Bloc activist is not an undercover cop.
He is Paul Weiskel, a 22-year-old political science student from Massachusetts who last month snapped another photo that was picked up by the Boston press; the one below of a Boston police officer Vaden Scantlebury, placing his hand on the neck of a bandanna-wearing activist.
Weiskel sent me an email this morning stating that he was offended that I would insinuate he was a cop.
I was, of course, being sarcastic in my suggestion, poking fun at the conspiracy theories that emerged from Weiskel’s photo I posted yesterday.
It is sometimes difficult to decipher sarcasm online as I proved in my response to a commenter named Pete Malloy on a Cop Block article about the way the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Homeland Security Bureau had been monitoring my public activity, which has gotten a good amount of press, including this piece by Photo District News (the police monitoring, not the comment exchange).
And while I have no doubt that there have been instances of police officers donning black disguises to infiltrate and provoke activists during protests, I don’t believe that’s the case here.
For starters, that punk in black looks way too young and skinny to be a cop. But if anybody has any evidence that he was a cop, please pass it along and I’ll be sure to post it.
As I stated yesterday, I’ve had far too many encounters with activists over the years who did not want me taking their photos for me to believe it doesn’t happen.
And even though I might support the cause they are protesting, I will never stand for some asshole activist telling me I can’t record them when they are doing all they can to bring attention to themselves.
As the Miami New Times reported last year, I had an issue with some Occupy Miami activists after one of them told me I did not have the legal right to video record him.
11:40 p.m. Some action stirs up. I think the female facilitator from earlier or her friend get mad at photographer Carlos Miller, who’s also covering the occupation, for taking their picture. We are protesting in a public space. He can take pictures in a public place. However, there’s a mini-stink about it. Some of these protesters need to chill out. There’s definitely a sprinkling of holier-than-thou divas.
I never posted the video here because it turned out he was a 15-year-old kid who was scared that he would get in trouble with his parents if they saw him spending the night at the Occupy Miami encampment.
It wasn’t that big of a deal for me, although I was sure to educate the activists who ended up surrounding me about the law when it comes to recording them in public.
Even before I launched this blog, I wrote an article for Raw Story about an incident that took place down here where an activist attacked one of my photographer friends.
That piece turned a lot of the local activists against me, but whatever, my priority is the First Amendment.
And Weiskel completey agrees with me on this level. Whether it’s cops or protesters, nobody has the right to intimidate us from taking photos in public.
So with his permission, I have reposted Weiskel’s photos as well as the email he sent me this morning.
A friend just sent me a link that contained a photo I took yesterday: http://flic.kr/p/bDrvAG
So I would like to clear up the “unknown source” issue.
I’m a freelancer from Boston and I’ve been covering #ows since the beginning (I was there the first day on wall street last September, those photos are here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjw51w1e ) Scott Eisen (who posted the photo on the NPAA page) can vouch for me not being a cop, I take offense to that insinuation.
I was at the wildcat march yesterday and witnessed at least 5 attacks on photogs and heard about 2 others.
The black bloc anarchist in this photo attacked 3 photogs and then turned on me after I took this photo. This was prior to attack in the photo being circulated.
Regarding my photo that is in your blog post, it was early on in the ‘wildcat march’ and up towards the front where a group of photogs was. This particular black bloc’er ran through the group swinging at anyone with a camera. The photog in the picture grabbed him by the collar and pulled him back to try and pull his mask off (it wasn’t a pressure point like someone suggested, it was a frantic attempt to get the mask). I didn’t get any unmasked photos of my attacker or this attacker since the march was at a full sprint at this point. But after the first few city blocks of marching and after a few photogs defended themselves (including this guy and myself) the black bloc’ers seemed to back off.
Also for what it’s worth, I don’t like any insinuation of anyone being an undercover cop since it is impossible to prove. It is always just one side pointing fingers at another for doing something they don’t agree with. I’ve talked with other anarchists who partake in black bloc marches about the issue of photography and I think it is a complicated issue (I’m typing from my iPhone so I don’t want to type to much, but if you want I would be happy to expand on that). Main point: this is something black bloc’ers do. But not all do this or agree with it.
Also, just to say I’m not trying to demonize protesters in taking and sharing this photo. I’m against any obstruction of a photogs rights whether it is from the police or black bloc’ers. A couple weeks ago I was on the other end of the situation and it got some major attention in the Boston area. I took this photo: http://flic.kr/p/bMMjLD Of a cop throttling a protester and it appeared in The Boston Globe and Boston Metro. After I took that photo the cop turned on me and grabbed at my camera seen here: http://flic.kr/p/bMMpkz
I talked with the ACLU and they released this statement about it: http://t.co/7n6FwsLA
Thanks and feel free to email back if you have any other questions.
I’ve since spoken to Weiskel by phone and he was born in Bogota, Colombia, where my mother was born and where the majority of my family still resides.
He was adopted by American parents and grew up in Massachusetts and is looking forward to returning to Colombia one day for a visit. I was born in Miami, but have visited Bogota multiple times and even spent a year attending school down there when I was 15 years old.
Weiskel also spoke about getting harassed by cops during protests for not having a press pass.
Last month he was photographing a protest in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day when a cop grabbed him by his arm and demanded his press pass.
“He told me, ‘if you’re not a marcher and you don’t have a press pass, you need to get on the sidewalk,'” Weiskel said.
The same thing happened to him during the May Day protests in New York City on Monday.
“There was a march of 30,000 people and I was singled out. Seems very strange in my opinion,” he said.
Below is a photo of Scantlebury, the same officer in the photo above, trying to stop him from taking photos during last month’s protest.
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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.