A photojournalist working for the online pub Category 305 was knocked to the ground and arrested by police last week after taking he refused to leave a corner of Biscayne Boulevard in Miami where he was reporting a story. Cat305 editor Rebecca Wakefield has the story of the arrest of freelancer Carlos Miller, a veteran police reporter who spent four years covering crime for the Arizona Republic. Here's the guts of it:
========================================== Miller, who estimates he was about 20 yards from the officers, began to shoot. Immediately, a female officer he identified as Officer Reid turned to him and said, "Sir, may I help you?"
Miller identified himself, by name, as a journalist. Reid apparently was not impressed and, according to Miller, said, "You need to keep moving. This is a private matter."
"This is a public road," Miller responded.
Reid repeated her command. Miller argued that he wasn't breaking any laws and was just doing his job.
Suddenly, Miller said, the officers lost interest in the man they had been questioning, and focused on him. The commanding officer at the scene, a Sgt. Rahming, walked over to him and took him by the elbow. Rahming escorted him across Biscayne Boulevard, to the sidewalk on the east side.
Miller then made the decision that probably got him thrown in jail. He reached up with one arm and
snapped a photo of Rahming. "I knew it pissed him off," Miller admitted, "But it's not illegal."
Miller turned and saw that the other officers were also walking across the street. He took a couple of shots of them as well, motioning him to keep walking. And that was it. They'd had it.
Miller said that in the next instant, he was surrounded by the officers. One attempted to trip kick him to fall to the ground, but he was concerned about his expensive camera equipment, so he tried not to fall on his face. He heard one officer say "He's resisting arrest!"
Miller tried to explain he wasn't, but he'd lost his negotiating leverage a few minutes back. He went down hard on one knee. The officers planted (Miller said slammed) his face into the concrete and twisted his wrists and arms behind him to the point of pain.
"They were treating me like I was uncontrollable, a meth addict or something," he said. "I tried to explain, but one of them said, 'If you don't shut up, I'm going to tase you.'"
Miller, at last, shut up.
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Miller was hauled up and leaned against a car, where he said several cops "manhandled" him, removing batteries and camera memory cards and a notebook from his pockets, then throwing him in the back of a cruiser.
He was taken to a nearby police substation, where he said Sgt Rahming said, "I don't know what police departments you're used to dealing with, but this is Miami PD. We don't put up with that kind of crap."
Then Miller went to jail. ===========================================
You can also read Miller's own account here on the Democratic Underground site. My take: Miller may have been a bit more provocative than would have been advisable, but it's a bad arrest and the charges should eventually be dropped. The police involved ought to look for work in dictatorships rather than America because they'd fit right in. Make sure to read the comments under the story -- as someone remarked, it must have been posted on the Free Republic web site or some far right place, because there's a lot of hate filling that board (not the least of it prompted by the Democratic Underground connection).