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