from the producing-excessive-noise? dept
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).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.
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.
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.