By William R. Toler
According to Miami prosecutors, apparently a “real” journalist is one that doesn’t question the police. And apparently, police and prosecutors don’t think Carlos Miller is a real journalist, as he told Free Talk Live Thursday, “because I wasn’t kissing their ass.”
The founder of Photography is Not a Crime was found not guilty of resisting with out violence Wednesday in a trial stemming from his January arrest while covering the Occupy Miami protest and eviction by police.
The arrest order was given by Miami-Dade flack Major Nancy Perez after questioning an “order” to move off the public sidewalk as he passed by her on the way to his car. From the PINAC About page:
While in jail, Miller’s footage of his arrest was deleted from his camera, but he managed to recover it and post it on his blog, proving to the world that he was not resisting arrest.
In the ensuing months, Miller discovered that Miami-Dade’s Homeland Security Bureau had been monitoring his Facebook page, sending an email to Perez on the day of his arrest, informing her that he would be documenting the eviction.
Prior to that discovery, she had claimed in a deposition that she had never heard of Miller before his arrest.
But after the revelation, she told a local television station that Miller was being investigated by the department’s Homeland Security Bureau for making threats* on the internet, an allegation she is unable to prove.
[*Miller said one "threat" was writing "Let's see what happens" when he said he was going to attend the Occupy protest.]
In regards to what a “real” journalist is, Miller’s attorney Santiago Lavandera responded with this:
“In this country, when you’re a journalist, your job is to investigate.
Not to be led by your hand where the police want you to see, so they can hide what they don’t want you to see.
No, when you’re a journalist, a real journalist, it’s your job to go find the truth. As long as you are acting within the law as Mr. Miller was, you have the right to demand and say, ‘no, I’m not moving, I have the right to be here. This is a public sidewalk, I have the right to be here.’
He did his job. He has the right to do his job the way he sees fit. It’s not up to these prosecutors to tell anybody, much less an independent journalist, how to do their job. It’s not up to the police officers, it’s not up to a judge or the president.
In this country, journalists do their job the way they see fit.
What’s he describing is Cuba. What he’s describing is a communist country. The government says you can’t be here because I say you can’t be here.
And it’s infuriating to me that a prosecutor would try to get up here and try to convince you that just because a police officer says something, that he has to bow his head and walk away.
That is a disgrace to the Constitution of this country.”
During the trial, Miller said prosecutors tried to paint him as an “anarchist” and said he was “antagonistic.” While trying to capture an arrest (the night he was arrested himself), he had yelled “get the fuck out of my way” to a group of cops in riot gear who were blocking his shot. Perez tried to claim it was toward her.
Despite the testimony of the “officials”, Miller had a surprise witness, an “Ace in the hole”: Miami Herald reporter Glenn Garvin.
Garvin told the jury that there was no doubt I was a journalist and not a protester, the opposite of what prosecutors had been trying to convince the jury all day long.
He also said that when he was saw me getting arrested, he immediately thought he was going to get arrested, so he asked Nancy Perez if it was all-right for him to be standing there and she said, yes, he was under no threat of getting arrested.
That proved that police had not established a clear perimeter, contrary to what they had been arguing, claiming that I had deliberately walked into that perimeter after being told I was not supposed to be there.
Miller described the jury deliberation as a long 35 minutes. “I’ve been confident,” he told the Independent Register, “The video is clear and the law is clear.” But he added, “There’s always doubt…you never know what’s going on inside their heads.” Two potential jurors had been dismissed because of being anti-cop, Miller said.
As the jury returned to the courtroom and was going through the formalities of reading the verdict, Miller said he was just ready for them to get it over with. He was prepared to appeal if it hadn’t gone in his favor, but as you’ve already read, jurors declared him not guilty.
“It really was emotional,” he said. “The great part was the judge was smiling.”
Miller is planning a civil suit against Perez and the Miami-Dade Police Department for a violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 USC § 1983.
“This is a really strong case,” he said. “It just doesn’t look good for them.”
The trial was recorded and Miller hopes to have all clips online.
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