Our friend Carlos Miller, a Miami-based photo journalist and intrepid investigative reporter who never backs down from controversy or authority, went into Hialeah with his camera and found a little too much (contemporary) Cuba.
‘This Is America, This Is Not Cuba’: Group Making Request for Public Records Detained by Cops After Staff Felt ‘Intimidated’ by Cameras
A group in a municipal office in Hialeah, Florida, making a request for public records was detained by police because employees felt “we had ‘invaded’ the city clerk’s office and ‘attacked’ them with our cameras, putting them ‘under threat’ and causing them to feel ‘intimidated,’” Carlos Miller from Photography Is Not a Crime wrote on his blog.
In a separate incident the next day, a man making a request for records in Miami claims he was threatened with arrest.
Miller, a photojournalist who has long advocated for the rights of filming cops in public, said he and Joel Chandler, described as a “records guru ….who has sued hundreds of government agencies for refusing to comply with the state public record law,” walked to Hialeah city hall with other men to request records.
According to Florida law, Miller noted, any citizen can walk into a government building and verbally make such a request.
“But government officials tend to force citizens to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops to obtain the records, usually insisting the requests be made in writing, allowing them to throw the request on a back burner and go back to their usual business of whatever it is they don’t want us to see, which is why they go into a panic when they see us walk in with cameras,” Miller wrote.
It was Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez who first told Miller he could not film inside the building. But Miller, well-versed in is rights of where and when he can use his camera and take snapshots (he’s detailed some of these to TheBlaze in the past) continued to film regardless of the objections from the mayor and other staff.
Video shot by Miller shows the men being told to submit a written request for the record they were seeking. Florida law though states a “person requesting a public record does not have to fill out a form to do so.” The law does include that requestors are still encouraged to put them in writing as it would help clarify the scope of the request to staff.
The group stands around for several minutes, as the city employees try to contact the city attorney to explain the policy about video recording inside government offices and the supposed policy requiring written requests for records.
Continue reading HERE.