Miami Beach PD Blocks Enforcement Of New Law Miami Beach Cops Abused To Arrest People For Filming Them

from the [fox-overseeing-henhouse]:-goddamn...-this-thing-is-full-of-foxes dept

In May, the Miami Beach city council passed an ordinance that basically made it illegal to come within 20 feet of cops.

The Ordinance prohibits any person, after receiving a warning from a law enforcement officer not to do so, to approach or remain within twenty (20) feet of a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful performance of any legal duty with the intent to: (1) interrupt, disrupt, hinder, impede or interfere with a law enforcement officer's ability to perform such duty; or (2) provoke a physical response from a law enforcement officer; or (3) directly or indirectly harass a law enforcement officer.

This law was supposedly needed because occasionally law enforcement is a bit more difficult to perform, like during occasions when there are more people in Miami Beach than usual. But there was some concern this meant Miami Beach officers would be able to arrest people for filming them. That point was raised by one city commissioner during the vote on the ordinance and quickly dismissed by the city attorney.

[Commissioner David] Richardson to Rafael Paz, the acting city attorney: “Is there anything in this provision ordinance that would prohibit someone from videotaping? Because I know that with George Floyd there were some questions about bystanders videotaping the officers, and I know that’s been a topic of conversation over the last year on whether or not that’s permissible activity, so is there anything in this that would prohibit it? Would that be considered harassment?”

Paz: “Commissioner that would not be considered harassing and videoing of our law enforcement officers is legal and permissible under the law.”

LOL. Well, I guess Miami Beach officers have agreed to disagree with the city attorney's interpretation.

Thirteen people have been arrested under the ordinance, according to arrest data provided by police. At least eight of those arrests were of people who’d been using their phones to record officers. All 13 were young Black men or women. Most of them still face a potential criminal trial, including [Mariyah] Maple.

Here's what happened to Maple:

[A] previously unreported video [showed] how police pepper sprayed a 27-year-old New York tourist, Mariyah Maple, after she had been peacefully recording a traffic stop in the 600 block of Collins Avenue on July 25.

Maple, who was later charged under the ordinance, can be seen recording as a police sergeant asked her to leave and, before she could respond, whipped his bicycle around like a shield, struck her hand and immediately deployed pepper spray. Sgt. Vincent Stella has been assigned to administrative duty while the department reviews the incident.

As the Miami Herald notes, this is at least the third time in the past few weeks that recordings of incidents resulting in the enforcement of this new law contradict officers' claims and arrest reports. And two arrests that occurred within hours of each other made national news. Miami Beach officers arrested New York resident Khalid Vaughn as he filmed them beating a handcuffed arrestee. His friend, Sharif Cobb, was arrested shortly after as he filmed officers preparing to transport Vaughn to jail.

Fortunately, those charges have been dropped by the State Attorney's office. These charges, however, still remain active:

In the aftermath, five Miami Beach police officers wound up charged with misdemeanor battery after prosecutors said they used excessive force in making arrests.

Since the cops can't seem to get the law right, the law is being taken away from them.

The department announced that it had paused enforcement of the law on Thursday, the same day the Miami Herald reported on an additional incident involving the ordinance in which police pepper sprayed and arrested a woman from New York who had been filming a traffic stop in South Beach in late July. A spokesman said the directive was actually issued late last month, after a series of troubling arrests.

On July 26, Chief Richard Clements “verbally” ordered his deputy chief to suspend the enforcement of the ordinance, according to department spokesman Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.

Officers will now undergo additional training on the "nuances of the ordinance." But there's no nuance to be had. The city attorney says it's legal to film police officers. Police officers don't want to be filmed. So they arrested people using this new law until someone made them stop. That's why vague laws that expand police power are so dangerous. If a law can be read as a new way to abuse people and infringe on their rights and protections, it will be.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, filming police, free speech, miami, miami beach, miami beach pd


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Sep 2021 @ 1:57pm

    The law isn't magic, it didn't make them act like that

    The problem isn't so much the law open to abuse as the corrupt cops who are abusing it, as it's not like if there were any good cops in the department they would likely feel that they had to mace and arrest anyone who got too close even if the latter was an option under the law.

    Sacking the law and giving them one less thing to use to abuse the public with is a good short-term fix/goal but any long-term solutions must be aimed first and foremost at the corrupt cops and giving them a swift boot out the door, hopefully to be replaced by less corrupt ones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2021 @ 6:15pm

      Re: The law isn't magic, it didn't make them act like that

      Sacking the law

      If only. No, they're only stopping enforcement. And only until they "educate the officers on the nuance of the law".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 4 Sep 2021 @ 11:53am

      Re: The law isn't magic, it didn't make them act like that

      the corrupt cops and giving them a swift boot out the door,

      Using the term ``corrupt'' as I suspect you are, to identify cops who are unwilling to follow the law or the Constitution, the suggestion of giving them a ``swift boot'' may leave the police station empty. Well, there may be a secretary or two, but generally no cops.

      Remember, this is Dade we are talking about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 2 Sep 2021 @ 2:21pm

    I think "vague laws" deserves its own tab on the Techdirt masthead... would fill up pretty quickly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JMT (profile), 2 Sep 2021 @ 3:31pm

    "Police officers don't want to be filmed."

    Then these camera-shy authoritarians need to get another damn job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ACAB, 2 Sep 2021 @ 3:37pm

    How many bullets?

    Does it take to get to the center of a systemically corrupt body of people who only believe in just-us? I mean it's been 40 years of "reform", it's old. #abolishthepolice already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2021 @ 6:39pm

      Re: How many bullets?

      What do you think shooting them would accomplish?

      Guy tried that in Houston. He got blown up by a robot with c4 strapped to it and then they used the incident to justify increasing the number of police officers.

      Christopher Dorner tried too. Not a single one of the cops who shot at vehicles not even remotely close to match the description of his vehicle where held accountable.

      It just doesn't work. All it does is give the government an excuse to ramp up the violence and oppression and the majority of society will agree they're justified.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 3:38am

    the way things are, cops are not there to protect and serve the public anymore, they are there so as to be able to abuse the public, to beat the public, to rob the public, to make the public afraid of the police and get away with these and any other disgraceful behaviors they can possibly get away with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lostinlodos (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 2:57pm

    There’s three separate issues in the linked films.

    First: we have cops who abused their power with excessive force. Assault. Battery. And a host of other crimes. Mind you fleeing an officer is a crime in most of the country.

    Second: the filming bystanders were within
    20 feet of the officers. Therefore breaking the law.

    Third: the response To the offenders who were filming were also excessive.

    It’s good to point out all issues.
    The law didn’t cause the problem. The extreme overreaction by the officers did.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 4 Sep 2021 @ 12:00pm

      Re: [cause of problem]

      The law didn’t cause the problem. The extreme overreaction by the officers did.

      The law was an essential element of the problem. Cops could not arrest for violation of the law were the law not in place. And with qualified immunity, the failure of the actual fact pattern to conform with the law is unlikely to produce consequences for the cops.

      Again, remember, this is Dade we are talking about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lostinlodos (profile), 4 Sep 2021 @ 1:30pm

    Yes. At the same time the law had the ability to keep bystanders fro
    Corrupting a crime scene.

    All offending officers should be tried and convicted.
    But there is good in the law. Despite the misuse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2021 @ 3:41am

    Thirteen people have been arrested under the ordinance. and now there will be 13 lawsuits!

    Since the cops can't seem to get the law right, the law is being taken away from them.

    the blue lies mafia will use and abuse anything they come across, laws, tasers, pepper spray, QI......

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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