November 12th, 2012

Photojournalist Acquitted of Resisting Arrest at Occupy Miami Confrontation

A Florida jury has acquitted photographer Carlos Miller of charges that he resisted arrest while covering police action at an Occupy encampment in Miami last January. Police alleged that Miller had refused orders to clear the area, but another journalist provided evidence to support Miller’s claim that he was singled out among several journalists for arrest.

Miller, who is the voice behind the Photography Is Not a Crime blog, has been a tireless critic of police harassment of journalists. He learned after his arrest last January that police had circulated his Facebook photo internally–including to the officer who arrested him–and that police considered him a troublemaker.

According to Miller, police had finished clearing the Occupy Miami encampment and had broken ranks when Miami-Dade police officer Nancy Perez recognized him. Perez ordered other officers to arrest Miller, allegedly for refusing a police order to disperse.

Miller managed to capture a video and audio recording of his arrest. Police erased the video file, but Miller managed to recover it with computer file recovery software. He intended to use the recording of his arrest to win acquittal.

But the case turned on the testimony of a Miami Herald columnist, according to Miller’s own account of the trial, and a report of the trial in the Miami New Times. The Herald columnist, Glenn Garvin, testified in court that Miller was on the scene as a journalist, not a protester, and that he (Garvin) never heard police order journalists to clear the area.

Garvin was standing near Miller when the arrest took place, and Garvin became worried that he would be arrested, too. But the officer who ordered Miller’s arrest assured Garvin that he was under no threat of arrest.

“That proved that police had not established a clear perimeter, contrary to what they had been arguing, claiming that I had deliberately walked into that perimeter after being told I was not supposed to be there,” Miller explained on his blog.

It was Miller’s third arrest while photographing in public. The first time, he was convicted of resisting arrest, but managed to get that conviction overturned on appeal. The second time, the charges against him were dropped because the arresting office did not show up at his court hearing to testify.

Related:
After Arrest, Photog Recovers Deleted Video File and Vows to Sue Police
Activist Carlos Miller Laughs at Plea Bargain Offer

July 19th, 2012

Activist Carlos Miller Laughs at Plea Bargain Offer

Give state prosecutors in Miami Dade County, Florida credit for moxie, if not for unintentional Orwellian humor.

Photojournalist and First Amendment activist Carlos Miller, who is facing charges for resisting arrest during a police raid on an Occupy encampment last January 31, says the Miami Dade County prosecutors have offered to drop charges against him–if he agrees to produce a video promoting the county.
(more…)

May 1st, 2012

Police Intimidation Watch: Miami-Dade Police Monitoring Activist Photographer

Photographer Carlos Miller, owner of the Photography Is Not a Crime blog, has learned that the Miami-Dade Police Department is watching him like, well, police states watch dissidents, just looking for reasons to arrest him.

Miller, who has been a tireless critic of police harassment of journalists, was the only person arrested when police cleared the Occupy Miami encampment in January. He recorded his arrest on video, and although police tried to erase it, he later recovered the file and posted it on his blog.

The incident left Miller wondering not only why he was singled out among other journalists for arrest, but also why he was arrested after police had cleared the encampment, broken ranks and were leaving the scene.

It turns out Miller wasn’t just being paranoid. As a result of a Freedom of Information Act request by a citizen, Miller got his hands on internal police e-mails that  show they were on the lookout for him.

Miller recently reported: “Eleven hours before I was arrested during the Occupy Miami eviction in January, the Miami-Dade Police Homeland Security Bureau sent an email to various police officers [including the arresting officer]… It included my Facebook profile photo [and]…the following statement about me: Carlos Miller is a Miami multimedia journalist who has been arrested twice for taking pictures of law enforcement.  He has publicly posted on social networks that he will be taking pictures today in order to document the eviction.”

The e-mail doesn’t instruct officers to arrest Miller, but other e-mails among about 200 released in response to the FOIA request suggest the law enforcement officials are looking for reasons to haul him in. For instance, after Miller posted a picture of the officer who arrested him on his web site, the head of the Miam-Dade Police Department’s Homeland Security Bureau sent an e-mail to a subordinate asking her to look into whether the posting of a police officer’s picture violated any laws. (Miller obtained the photo from a police web site that’s accessible to the public.)

In another e-mail exchange, a police officer tells the officer who arrested Miller, “Carlos Miller is on his high horse again.  He continues to post negative statements regarding law enforcement.  I will continue to monitor for additional information.” The same officer wrote in another e-mail to the arresting officer, “This guy is targeting you and I believe he is trying to get some monetary gain as well as publicity.”

Police also went online to monitor a panel discussion Miller participated in, and ended up putting out another notice about him:  “Carlos Miller stated he intends to to attend the RNC in Tampa August 27-30, 2012 to record and document the event. Proper notifications will be made for situational awareness purposes.”

Apparently, Carlos Miller is being scheduled for another arrest for daring to hold police accountable to the First Amendment. Stay tuned.

Related:
After Arrest, Photog Recovers Deleted Video File and Vows to Sue Police
Other Police Intimidation Watch stories:
Photog Sues Long Island Police Department
Photog Agrees to Community Service for Trespassing on a Public Street
Journalists Detained for Being Present at a Chicago News Event
Beating a Photojournalist on a Lisbon Street