With the typical bravado that you would expect from a cop turned politician, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez insisted that we were somehow breaking the law when we walked into city hall with our cameras earlier this month because at one point, I turned my camera into a room filled with high school students.
The students were part of a national program called Project Search, which trains developmentally disabled students with occupational skills in order for them to fill jobs.
The program’s website is filled with photos and videos of these students in the work environment, including a website dedicated to the program in Hialeah with a photo slideshow of the students, yet Hernandez is under the impression that they are somehow protected by law from being video recorded.
“And I will not allow anybody, you or Mr. Chandler or anybody to come here and record these young men and women that are protected by the law from being recorded,” he stated to mayoral candidate Juan Santana during Tuesday night’s city council meeting, his nonsensical rant beginning at 3:00.
Hernandez failed to take account that these students are being recorded by city surveillance cameras each time they step into city hall.
Speaking of which, the video below is from the surveillance camera inside the city clerk’s office from when we walked in and made our public records request, which also includes audio from the 911 calls Hernandez and his chief of staff, Arnie Alonso.
The video, dispatch tapes and police report were obtained through a public records request by PINAC reader and Miami resident Theo Karantsalis, which goes to show them, it’s not just Joel Chandler they have to worry about.
In their calls to police, both men claimed that we were refusing to leave, but as you can see from my video below, we were never asked to leave. The mayor, who spent two decades as a Hialeah cop, comes in around 1:45 in the video, referring to a “34,” which is police code for a disturbance.
There is also a rumor floating around city hall that the mayor is seeking to get us federally indicted for walking into city hall and recording the high school students that they record on a daily basis.
But when Santana asked them to confirm this rumor during the meeting, Hialeah Council President Isis Garcia-Martinez misunderstood the question and assumed he was referring to the never-ending rumor that city officials would be coming under federal indictmentment, which is much more likely to happen than us getting federal indicted for recording inside a government building.
UPDATE: And just to clarify, the incident the mayor is talking about is in regard to the moments before the video I ended up posting when we were waiting for Joel Chandler to step out of the rest room. I started to record into what appeared to be a classroom from the hallway for b-roll footage when a teacher asked me to stop recording. I complied because that wasn’t the purpose of my visit.
That is when I started talking to the mayor in front of the elevators.
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