Saturday, December 26, 2009

Carlos Miller won his appeal!

Photographer Carlos Miller started his blog, Photography Is Not A Crime, after he was arrested for what he claims was simply exercising his rights to photograph anything in public. He was arrested for photographing police in a construction zone because they claimed he was standing in the middle of the street and disrupting traffic, and then resisting arrest without violence.

As he describes on his website, public photography is not a crime. Anything visible from the public street can be photographed. This is how Google Maps can give you a convenient street view of everything. This is why Americans can carry cameras around any city without fear.

But if you read enough of his site, you start to understand that Miller has a bit of an ability to instigate. I don't blame him for this. I think that in order for society to progress, authority must continually be challenged. I'm not calling for an all-out revolution. I'm saying that if something doesn't make logical sense, you should question it and see if you can understand it. If you think something should be changed, fight for it. The thing is, here, Carlos is fighting for rights that already exist and are on the books. He's fighting against wrongful arrests. He's fighting against cops who can bring you in just for rubbing them the wrong way.

So just recently, Miller won an appeal to his conviction. His appeal was that the judge in his trial allowed illegal evidence to be submitted. The judge allowed the state to introduce evidence from Miller's blog, which was started after his arrest. Miller was also evidently sentenced by a judge who was biased against him and who had a personal beef with Miller's blog, which should have been legally outside the consideration of his trial and conviction.

In his post, you can see Miller agreeing that he pushes things a little bit when he discusses his second arrest. Miller was serving probation and community service from his first conviction, and while in Miami, he shot another round of pictures of cops. They arrested him and are trying to charge him on resisting arrest without violence. And nothing else. But how can you resist arrest without having a reason for an arrest? Miller states that he could have stopped after photographing the cop who was texting while he was supposed to be supervising events on duty. Instead, Miller went up to the cop and tried to ask him what his name was.

Of course, Miller could have walked away and avoided arrest. That would have been the safe way. The way that most people behave. Most people wouldn't confront a cop if they didn't have to. I certainly wouldn't. I don't want a record, and I don't want to test the laws and the interpretation of the laws. But if you think about it, what is the illegal part of photographing someone in public, and then what is the illegal part of walking up to that same person and trying to talk to them?


And this is why Carlos Miller started his blog and fights his arrests. One of the best quotes I've seen is a comment on the "About" page of his blog:

"Carlos is fighting for rights that most of you don’t even know you have."

Keep up the good fight, Carlos.

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