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Harassed photographer filing lawsuit against Miami-Dade

By   /   January 23, 2013  /   No Comments

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog

MIAMI — When private security guards working for the Metrorail system in Miami stopped photographer Carlos Miller last Sunday night for taking pictures, they had no idea they’d be brewing a storm.

HEY CITIZEN: Miller was forcibly detained by private Metrorail security guards for filming on the public transit system.

After Miller was forcibly tackled by the security guards for filming the Metrorail station and later charged by the Miami-Dade Police Department for “excessive noise,” he uploaded video of the altercation to his website and YouTube and they immediately went viral.

The video shows contractors for the 50 State security company allegedy harassing Miller, dragging him down an escalator and putting him in handcuffs.

On Wednesday he told Florida Watchdog he’s filing a lawsuit against the Miami-Dade County for abridging his First Amendment right to freedom of the press, amending a prior lawsuit from March 2011 that occured at a different Metrorail station.


YouTube

In that incident, Miller and a friend had their cameras taken by 50 State security personnel guarding the station, again claiming that filming is not allowed.

“They’re contracted by Miami-Dade County, so they’re extensions of the county government,” said the Miami activst. “They’re not exempt from the law.

“I know the law. It’s only illegal to take pictures without a permit if you’re doing commercial photography at the station, like advertising or a movie with lights and a whole crew,” he said.

He points to a 2010 letter from Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess, who reminded officials that the public does have a right to photograph in public places.

“MDT met with the security contractor and stressed the right of the public to photograph in the common areas of its public facilities. To that end, all contracted security officers have been retrained on the appropriate manner in which to enforce Miami-Dade County Code of Ordinances, Part III, Chapter 30B-5, governing photography on the transit system, and a copy of the aforementioned code has been placed at all MDT Metrorail security kiosks.”

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS: Miller was also arrested by police for filming during Occupy Miami protests in 2012.

Miller told Florida Watchdog he’s determined to fight the people who wish to abridge the freedoms of all Americans.

“Too many people in authority abuse their power and create their own laws. For the longest time, people only had freedom of the press if they had access to the press,” said Miller, a former newspaper photographer.

He expressed similar sentiments to Florida Watchdog when he was arrested for filming Occupy Miami protesters in January 2012.

But far from making trouble, Miller said he only hopes to educate his fellow citizens that rights to film must be respected by the authorities.

“This is the first time in history that we have real freedom of the press, not guaranteed just to people with journalism degrees or who work for corporate media. I want to educate citizens and educate cops,” he said.

“It’s important that the people know their rights.”

Miami Metrorail director Ysela Llort told Florida Watchdog they are “currently reviewing the matter.”

Contact Yaël Ossowski, Watchdog.org’s Florida Bureau Chief, at Yael@Watchdog.org and follow him @YaelOss

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Yaël is a writer, journalist and radio host. He has served as a Florida Bureau Chief for Watchdog.org and served as the site’s chief translator from Spanish into English. Yaël has worked as a multimedia journalist in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Tampa, and Vienna, and his writings have appeared in the Washington Examiner, The Gaston Gazette, Reason Magazine, Sunshine State News, Wisconsin Reporter, and PanAmerican Post. He has worked and studied in three countries across two continents. His Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History is from Concordia University in Montréal and the University of Vienna. He speaks four languages and his hometown is Saint-Hyainthe, Québec. His personal website is Yael.ca and his PGP key is available here.