Monday, April 23, 2012

DHS monitored a photographers Facebook page hours before he was arrested while covering a demonstration.

Florida photographer Carlos Miller was arrested while covering a protest.

"Eleven hours before I was arrested during the Occupy Miami eviction in January, the Miami-Dade Police Homeland Security Bureau sent an email to various police officers, which was then forwarded to the department’s public information officers – including arresting officer Major Nancy Perez - informing them that I would be documenting the action.

The subject of the email was “Multimedia information/Situational Awareness.” It included my Facebook profile photo where I'm trying my hardest to look like a terrorist thug."

It also included the following statement about him.
Carlos Miller is a Miami multimedia journalist who has been arrested twice for taking pictures of law enforcement. He has publicly posted on social networks that he will be taking pictures today in order to document the eviction.
The email makes it clear that the Homeland Security Bureau was monitoring my Facebook page since before my arrest – not that I have an issue with that considering I have my profile set to public.

Even more compelling is why did Detective Maritza Aschenbrenner of the Homeland Security Bureau felt the need to advise officers of my presence when there were going to be countless other reporters and activists also documenting the eviction with cameras?

Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, who has fired off two letters to Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus over my arrest and the treatment of an América TeVe reporter, is also flabbergasted.
“I find it very troubling that a unit formed to deal with terrorist activities found it necessary to send out an email advising other departments and law enforcement officers that a journalist would be covering a newsworthy matter of public concern,” he wrote in an email after I sent him a copy of the email in question.
“It would be best if they followed their own directives that photography is a First Amendment protected activity and ‘should not be reported absent articulable facts and circumstances that support the suspicion that the behavior observed is not innocent . . . but rather reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism or other crimes.’
“Unfortunately it appears that by their very actions they continue sustain the misguided belief that by its very nature photography is a crime. At best – behavior that chills free speech is extremely unprofessional – at worst it is criminal.”
The five others that were jailed that night were arrested by City of Miami police and have since had their charges dismissed.

No comments: