Carlos Miller Arrested (Again) For Perfectly Legal Photography

from the producing-excessive-noise? dept

Thanks to an enforced climate of fear, law enforcement and security agencies remain deeply suspicious of photography in public places. Despite the fact that most public places are now covered in cameras erected by law enforcement and security, the prevailing view seems to be that a member of the public “armed” with a camera is a threat that should be dealt with immediately. The law is rarely on the side of those doing the law enforcement, oddly enough, but that doesn't stop them from trying.

Armed with ignorance, along with guns, tasers, nightsticks and the safety of numbers, these enforcers continue to violate the rights of citizens, often destroying evidence of their misguided actions in the process.

Carlos Miller is one of those fighting back against these attempts to curb rights solely through intimidation. Petapixel reports on Miller's latest run-in with the law, or rather the Miami Metrorail security force, 50 State.

Photographer, blogger, and photographers rights’ activist Carlos Miller has made headlines quite a few times over the past few years with his legal rumbles with authorities over photography in public places. Miller, who often instigates the disputes for the purpose of bringing photographers’ rights into the spotlight, recently had another big confrontation with authorities in Miami (it’s not the first time it has happened).

According to Miller, his friend was photographing Dade County Courthouse from the rail platform and he was photographing his friend… Miller says that they were spotted by a security guard and warned over a loudspeaker to stop shooting photographs. When they didn’t put their cameras away, security guards arrived to confront them.

As is usually the case when the enforcement agency is operating on little more than a combination of gut instinct and vague directives, the security guards spent a bit of time shuffling through their deck of possible charges in hopes of making one stick.

First, they told Miller that it was illegal to photograph the rail portion of the train, something that is completely false. According to Eric Muntan, Chief of Safety and Security of the metro, noncommercial photography is “perfectly fine.” (Which didn't stop Miller from receiving a completely unenforceable “lifetime ban” from the Metrorail.)

When challenged on this claim, the responding guard switched over to accusing Miller of being drunk because he smelled alcohol on his breath. Again, there's nothing illegal in Miami about being drunk in public (Miller states he had three drinks in two hours while watching a football game) — one has to be considered a “threat to public safety” before it's considered a crime.

At that point, they decided trespassing might be the way to go, considering they'd asked Miller to leave and he hadn't. When nothing else worked, the guards wrestled him to the ground, seized his camera, seized the camera his friend was holding (temporarily), before cuffing them both and turning them over to the Miami PD. Miller notes that the guards “surprisingly” returned both phones before releasing them to Miami-Dade law enforcement.

At that point, the police began arguing about what to charge the pair with (while making it a point to mention that they hadn't deleted the footage captured earlier — Miller is rather well known in the Miami law enforcement community), finally deciding on “producing loud or excessive noise” and released Miller and his friend, but not before handing out a $100 citation.

So, the end result is nothing illegal occurred and yet, two people were cuffed and delivered to the police department and handed a $100 fine for “loud noise,” most of which was actually created by the three security guards. While no one expects a third-party security team to be familiar with all the legal aspects of their coverage area, one would at the very least expect them to know what comprises legal photography, especially considering the safety chief's directive. This sort of thing applies directly to 50 State's security responsibilities. The fact that this whole situation began with a loudspeaker announcement directing the pair to “stop taking pictures” gives it another layer of unseemly Big Brother-ish state-ordained paranoia. There was no legal basis for the stop and no evidence of any wrongdoing, but those “securing” the Metrorail went ahead and shut them down anyway, because that's the attitude fostered all the way up the line to the DHS. 

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Comments on “Carlos Miller Arrested (Again) For Perfectly Legal Photography”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, I’m expecting him to either draw some similar parallel, the closest of which is about Masnick whining about constitutional rights and how he’s a big grown-up lawyer and everything, or whine about “Mike Masnick just hates it when law is enforced”. Both plans end up derailing the thread into how everyone not supportive of life + 70 years is a filthy, scummy piracy apologist.

But hey, if he wants kick off every single thread for a week with more milk than a cow farm, I believe preemptive action isn’t unwarranted.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

AJ Needs a bit (ok a lot) of hubris and maybe, somehow he might get some.

This excellent article (and one I am going to make all my law students – and probably business/computer students too since its still relevant – read on pain of me being annoyed) by Jordan Rushie a real life attorney in the USA who actually.. OMG.. admits and learns from his failures.. OMG faints

AJ should read this and basically LEARN from it.. and stop stressing so much

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Jordan Rushie? Needs no more introduction; he’s posted several times on and is known as a reformed troll who now fervently defends those afflicted by trolls.

Unfortunately I doubt average_joe is going to take the suggestion to heart. He’ll probably call Jordan’s “bullshit” and insist on the merits of the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

How’s that just as bad? Honestly, it’s a pretty good deterrent and brings up the counterpoints for a discussion, except that we know that it’s really a joke unlike the shills who really believe the inane nonsense they preach; if the real trolls actually respond, it’s because a nerve was struck. If anything, we haven’t seen the real out_of_the_blue in weeks!

Plus, it’s an improvement over the “Blargha flargha!” trend some time back even though both achieve pretty much the same thing.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually several illegal things occurred:

False arrest occurred when Carlos and his friend were handcuffed for exercising their constitutional rights.

Aggravated assault occurred when Carlos was tackled for resisting when one of the guards attempted to murder him by shoving him down a moving escalator.

Filing a false police report occurred when the security guards informed the police that Carlos and his friend had broken the law and needed to be arrested.

That ignores the federal side. Title 18, Chapter 13, Sections 241 and 242 of the U.S. Code make it a federal crime for a public official such as a government employee (like a security guard employed by the county) or a police officer to use their position of authority to violate constitutional rights. Normally this would be misdemeanor level, but the murder attempt makes it a felony.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


Just because it’s a government agent breaking the law doesn’t make it right. That’s the exact same issue with Ortiz prosecuting Aaron. “Oh he broke the law so he deserves…” NO! He did NOT break the law. Ortiz did, and she and these security guards and the police who unlawfully held this man and trumped up charges against them all belong in jail.

And there needs to be a law against anyone ever convicted of such crimes ever serving as a security guard or law enforcement officer as well.

This is so ridiculous. How does this keep getting worse?

Dreampod says:

Sad situation, but one that will continue to occur so long as law enforcement (both police and prosecutors) are immune from being held accountable for their misconduct. Without consequences for their actions both police and private security will detain and have people charged on no true basis because they expect their authority to be respected and obeyed even when they are violating the law (often unknowingly because they have no motivation to actually know the law). The irony is of course that these very actions are what undermines public trust in law enforcement and in turn leads to the public not giving the police the benefit of the doubt in situations where the law is unclear or the officer is honestly mistaken.

Beech says:

Re: Re:

Well, I voted you insightful. Security guards need to make sure that everyone knows to “Respect mah authoritah” every chance they get, lest people actually start giving them the respect they deserve. Miller didn’t bow down and humble himself before the mighty rent-a-cop, so he had to be made example of.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: you've hit the nail on the head, there...

(please, i don’t want to hear about so-called ‘elections’, etc…)

for us li’l peeps, unending rafts of laws which we are all ‘violating’ every day of our lives, simply waiting for The Man to crush us when he notices us not BEHAVING the way they want…

for the privileged classes, no laws need apply: no beatdowns for taking a picture, no perp walk for banksters, no CONSEQUENCES, period…

…AND they skate free with their ill-gotten gains, PLUS, make us pay THEM for looting US…

how much longer will the serfs endure it ? ? ?

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

William Hayes says:

Re: Dreampod

False Arrest is still False Arrest. Still a CRIME. If you want to get your hand caught in a cookie jar, arrest someone with false complaints. To say the least, Miami Courts are like other US Courts. The Video of State Security arresting Carlos Miller makes it very plain that Carlos and Buddy were falsely arrested, assaulted and detained due to Security Guards being anal retentive. The Security Guards main complaint in the video was “you can not take pictures of the track” When Carlos asked why, the Guard reiterated, “You can not take pictures of the track” “Why can’t I take pictures of the track” “You can not take pictures of the track” … Seriously Dude. Having Rifled through Miami Metro Rail Rule Book, I agree with Eric Montan, Chief of Safety and Security of the Metro, noncommercial photography is perfectly fine. No law against it. Not even Homeland Security would buy that BS.
The Security Guards need remedial training on Metro laws and practices, three in the video can look for a new job in Miami, after they get out of county jail for assault, battery, false arrest and false imprisonment. IMHO.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Ahhh – yeah ….. it’s not quite that simple is it?

I hear this retort from time to time and always find it to be lacking in substance. There is no data nor knowledgeable study ever cited in support of such ridiculous claims, they apparently are nothing more than self imagined sour grapes responses.

Fact is, something is being done about it – you did read the story right? In addition, this is not an isolated case as there are others with the balls to stand up to false authority – do you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So, what about the similar situation in Canada? They just let it happen, too, right? I mean, obviously it is the people who are at fault and not the corrupt lawyers who create laws written in such a manner that the people cannot understand them, right? And let’s be clear, a lot of police don’t have the time to learn the law and completely understand it. It isn’t even a requirement.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: When a uniformed security guard tries to push you down a moving escalator...

yeah, but…

that may be okay in theory, in practice, The They ™ will simply pile on charges (see: ortiz, US Attny office, etc) until you scream for mercy…

…then, they will show you no mercy, as well…

gosh, ain’t Empire grand !

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Keith Prime says:

Charge more for these offenses? Or, maybe...

Didn’t the last city we hear about end up w/ a 6 digit fine? Maybe they need to up the fines paid to 8 digits before Law Enforcement learns anything?

Or, maybe the message would get through if the fines came out of the offenders’ wallets, rather than the cities. Maybe docking those at fault’s pay until the entire fine has been paid would get the message across to stop harassing law abiding citizens?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Charge more for these offenses? Or, maybe...

” the fines came out of the offenders’ wallets,”

This would make more sense than holding the tax payers financially responsible for the actions of others, it would be much better if the perp were let go – as in you’re fired and more stringent screening performed prior to hiring these so called officers of the law. They want respect? They might try earning it.

Beech says:

It’s disgusting that people exist who troll law enforcement. It’s EVEN MORE DISGUSTING how necessary they seem these days.

The biggest problem seems to be the lack of respect perceived by the rent-a-cop. Miller could have stayed a LOT calmer and explained his rights to the rent-a-cop (not that he should have had to) and that may have gone a lot farther towards diffusing things (not that the guard ever should have approached them).

Favorite moment: “You’re drunk, you have to leave.”
“What do you want me to do? Drive?”

Mr. Applegate says:

“The biggest problem seems to be the lack of respect perceived by the rent-a-cop.”

Why exactly should a Rent-a-Cop receive any more (or less) respect than anyone else?

Respect is something that is earned, not deserved.

Certainly, when one is out in public everyone should show some respect for others that are sharing that public space. However, in my experience most Rent-a-Cops and many police officers are on power trips, they try to command respect while giving none. It doesn’t work that way. A uniform does not mean you have earned the right to more respect than anyone else. This is especially true , when your being an ass towards me.

“Miller could have stayed a LOT calmer and explained his rights to the rent-a-cop (not that he should have had to) and that may have gone a lot farther towards diffusing things (not that the guard ever should have approached them).”

In my experience, staying calm does little to sate a person who thinks they have authority over you. Even a calm questioning results in escalation.

I was once pulled over, in my driveway, for speeding. I, in fact, was not and had not been speeding. I very politely told the officer that I had lived here for more than 20 years and was quite familiar with the speed limits in the area. I offered to show him the applicable speed limit signs and prove that the speed limit was 50 MPH, not the 30 MPH he was claiming. He declined, he then told me to get out of the vehicle, frisked me and searched the vehicle (pretty much trashed it). He then cited me for wreckless driving (21 MPH over the limit). Had I challenged him any further I am quite certain I would have been hauled off to jail (he is well known in town as being a real prick of a police officer). I simply accepted the ticket, then proceeded to make a Google Map showing locations and took it to the prosecutor, and told the prosecutor I was not paying the fine, and if the charges weren’t dropped I was filing against the PD. The charges were dropped, and an apology issued.

The point is staying calm does not always prevent abuse. After watching the video I think he stayed remarkably calm (a lot longer than I would have). He was very obviously pushing the Rent-a-Cops buttons, but there is no law against that. If I were wrongly asked to leave I would have become pretty upset as well even if I was just doing it to push his buttons.

Sean says:

Pretty convenient

That Carlos manages to conveniently get into these types of conflicts seems rather self serving to me. Not justifying the actions of the rentacops or real cops but seems to me he picks situations specifically prone to causing confrontation.

They say to pick your battles and he does just that.

I’ve been photographing in public places for decades and never once had a single incident. Nor do I know anyone who’s been arrested or assaulted for doing so.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Pretty convenient

It’s not “convenient”. It happens all the time, and is being documented. All you have to do in the USA these days is stand up for yourself when some security guard or police officer does something wrong and you are going to get nailed for it.

It is way past time to stop making excuses for the people doing the harassing. Did you see how long Carlos just stood there calmly explaining himself, explaining he had researched the law?

And he had.

You, sir, are part of the reason why the USA is falling to pieces.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Pretty convenient

explaining he had researched the law

It ought to be a requirement that any law enforcement officer should be able to quote you the exact location of the law you are breaking (Title 9 chapter 68 Section 80 paragraph 1, etc) and also have a current copy of the law at hand, whether printed or electronic. They ought to be able to say to you as you are being arrested what law you’ve broken.

They enforce the law. It’s their job to know what they are enforcing inside and out.

shane (profile) says:

Cash Forfeiture fiasco has gone on for years. I think a couple of decades now.

Police can take your money, never press charges, and never return it.

Sean thinks it’s “convenient” that people are carrying all that cash…. even though it’s perfectly legal, and pretty much the only way to stop feeding the crooked banking system.

Where are our banking prosecutions for the worldwide economic crash? But we can surely force citizens to stop taking pictures. Thank goodness for that.

Thomas (profile) says:

Police departments..

have a group called “internal affairs” which in theory is supposed to investigate police misconduct. In the real world the internal affairs people do everything they possibly can to cover up police misconduct.

In Boston, the police lost a big case for seizing and arresting a man simply taking video of cops beating someone. The police lost and the governor told the cops to stop doing that. Two days later, the police again arrested someone for taking video of a cop. They simply do whatever they want to do, regardless of the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Agreed, if the police officer does not know the law, he/she has no right to the badge, your the last line of defense, from a mere accusation, without you enforcing accusations, those who accuse will stop accusing, and, grudgingly no doubt, stick to the facts, and a better informed jury, but its gotta be an honest jury, one that respects life, otherwise they’ll be next, if not already

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