News Column

Photography Group Complains About Arrest During Occupy Miami

Feb 24, 2012

Paradise Afshar

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A national photographers' organization has filed a complaint about Miami-Dade Police's actions after officers arrested one of its members during the Occupy Miami eviction near the Stephen P. Clark Government Center.

Local freelance photographer Carlos Miller, who has been arrested before for disobeying police orders, was charged with resisting arrest without violence after police said he refused to comply with orders to disperse and leave the area.

Though several members of the local media were covering the police action on the night of Jan. 31, Miller, 43, was the only person Miami-Dade police arrested.

Miller runs the blog, Photography Is Not A Crime, which documents confrontations between law enforcement and photographers. He later claimed that some of the film from his camera was missing.

"I looked through the footage and I saw my video was not there. They destroyed evidence."

He said he was later able to recover the footage from his internal hard drive days later and posted it on his website.

Meanwhile, the National Press Photographers Association sent a letter to Miami-Dade Police voicing their concern about the arrest.

"This is something I deal with on a daily basis around the country," said Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the photographers association. "The most important thing is to have the charges dismissed."

Major Nancy Perez, who ordered Miller's arrest, would not discuss the incident..

"I will not comment until after the investigation has been completed, to maintain fairness," she said.

Miller has been arrested several times before. He also has a series of videos of himself posted on YouTube where he goes into federal buildings, airports and other locations, with a video camera. When he is questioned, he films what generally turns into a confrontation.

On the night of the Occupy Miami eviction, the scene was chaotic. Aside from journalists covering the event, there was a live Internet stream of officers clearing the campers and bystanders recording the action on their own cameras and phones.

Even with the confusion, only a handful of people were arrested by night's end. Six protesters, initially intent on going to jail, decided to walk away after police gave them one last chance to change their minds.

"They did not personally tell me to leave, they told everybody to leave," said Miller.

From the tapes, Miller had at least two interactions with law enforcement. He is seen questioning why law enforcement would not allow him to film on a sidewalk that has been cleared.He asked police, "I can't be in the park. Can I be on the sidewalk?" When told no, he responds with "why can't I be on the sidewalk?"

An activist comes over and questions the officer's actions.

Miller also attempted to film an activist's arrest and claimed an officer was blocking his shot.

He is heard shouting at the officer "Goddamn, why the f--- did you have to block the shot?"

Miller has blogged about his latest arrest and spoken to at least one news show.

"They have their side, I have my side," he said.



Source: (c)2012 The Miami Herald


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