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Photography is Not a Crime

Archived from Carlos Miller Blog site


My name is Carlos Miller and I am a Miami multimedia journalist with more than ten years of professional experience who has been arrested twice since 2007 for photographing police against their wishes.

The first arrest occurred on February 20th, 2007 as I was photographing a group of five Miami police officers for an article I was working on.

When the officers spotted me, they ordered me to keep walking as this was a “private matter”. When I reminded them that this was “public road”, the officers abandoned the investigation to deal with me.

After one of them escorted me across the street, they ordered me to continue walking away from the area. When I refused and continued to take their photo, they tackled me and bashed my head against the pavement, breaking a $400 camera flash and threatening to shoot me with a Taser gun.

I ended up spending 16 hours in the county jail on nine misdemeanor counts, the main charge being that I was standing in the middle of the street taking photos obstructing traffic.

However, if you look at the picture I took seconds before they arrested me, the one in the header of this blog, you can see the street behind the officers.

I launched this blog shortly after my arrest to document my trial. But as my trial languished, I began documenting First Amendment violations against other photographers throughout the country, which occur on a shockingly regular basis.

I finally went to trial in June 2008 and was acquitted of all criminal charges except resisting arrest without violence because I had a biased judge who allowed improper evidence.

Judge Jose L. Fernandez essentially allowed the prosecutor to use my blog against me when I took the stand, convincing the jury that I harbored a deep hatred for police, which is why I got myself arrested.

However, the prosecutor was referring to articles that were written after my arrest, which made them completely irrelevant.

I ended up appealing that conviction pro se (without a lawyer), spending countless of hours in the University of Miami law library as I prepared my case.

And I was victorious.

At the time, I flirted with the idea of law school, but then I was arrested a second time for photographing cops against their wishes.

In May 2008, while working on an article about excessive police arrests during Memorial Day Weekend on Miami Beach, I photographed Miami Beach Police Officer David Socarras as he was leaning against his car.

He ran after me and ordered me to delete the image. I refused. He then walked back to his car, knowing he had no right to order me to delete my image. I walked after him to ask for his name to include in my article.

He and several other cops arrested me and I ended up spending another night in jail.

Those cops also deleted my images, but I was able to retrieve them using recovery software.

I was charged with resisting arrest without violence, which doesn’t make sense considering there was no underlying charge to base this arrest on.

But this is Florida, so apparently they can do whatever they want and make it stick – unless you decide to fight it.

That case was dismissed after Socarras failed to show up to trial on two separate occasions.

Now the next step is to file civil suits in each of these cases. I will keep my readers updated on how that progresses.

To read three years worth of blog post relating to my cases, click here and read from the bottom up (just keep on clicking on “previous entries”).

Today, Photography is Not a Crime is renowned nationally for documenting these types of abuses, which occur on an almost daily basis.

PINAC has been mentioned in The New York Times, Fox News, Chicago Sun-Times, The Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami New Times, The Daily Record (NJ), BoingBoing and Playboy Magazine.

In March 2010, PINAC won the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Best of Blog Award for “Best Overall Blog,” beating almost 200 other local blogs.

I’ve also been interviewed by countless radio stations and have been asked to speak in front of classes and on panels, including one last year where I sat next to then-Miami Police Chief John Timoney.

I am also available to speak in future engagements, if you have anything in mind.

The beauty of blogging is that nobody is paying me to write. And nobody is censoring me either.

Blogging is Freedom of Speech at its purest. For that reason, I welcome all comments, including from the many of you who disagree with me. I do not moderate comments.

In fact, since starting this blog, I’ve been insulted, ridiculed and threatened, but the only comments I’ve deleted were comments that were racist and derogatory towards others.

I’m always up for a debate, but if you’re one of those people who cannot debate without insulting and making personal attacks, I will not even respond to your comments.In the meantime, I will use this blog as my soapbox. As my bullhorn. And maybe even as my confessional booth.

I will rant and rave and report and reveal and maybe even recite some of my rhymes.

I will mock and madden and maybe even muckrake.

In the words of the great Henry Miller who inspired me to live in Europe as a struggling writer in my twenties, I am going to sing for you, a little off key perhaps, but I will sing.

Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar, which helps pay for the thousands of dollars I’ve accrued in debt since my arrest. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.

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