Another South Florida cop proves to be ignorant of the First Amendment when he arrested Channel 10 reporter Jeff Weinsier for doing nothing but standing on a public sidewalk.
This time, the whole incident was recorded by a Channel 10 videographer, which gives the public a rare insight into the police behavior to which many of us reporters are accustomed.
Weinsier and the videographer were on the sidewalk in front of Miami Central High School working on a story about school violence when a group of Miami Dade Public Schools officers walked up and ordered them to cross the street.
In a conversation that sounded almost exactly like the one that took place before my arrest, Weinsier responded by saying, “This is a public sidewalk” and asking “why are you asking us to go across the street”?
The heavyset lead officer responded only by repeating “I am kindly asking you to cross the street” as he shoves Weinsier and the videographer into the street.
At one point, the heavyset officer physically tries to shut the filming down by shoving his fat hand in front of the lens and pushing the camera down.
The officer also pulls Weinsier’s microphone out of his hand, but gives it back to him when Weinsier’s demands it.
Across the street, Weinsier can be heard calling his editor on the cell phone. He can also be heard telling the videographer that “if they’re going to arrest me, we’re going to get it on camera.”
It is obvious that Weinsier decided that he would subject himself to arrest because he was aware that the cop was out of line by demanding him to leave the area.
The only problem is, Weinsier was carrying a loaded gun in his waistband. Even though he has a concealed weapons permit, he is still restricted from entering school grounds with his weapon.
Although it is clear from the video that he never actually set foot on school grounds nor any grass for that matter, as police initially reported, Florida law considers any area within 500 feet of the school a “school safety zone” in regards to trespassing.
But as I explained in a previous post, it would have to be evident that the trespasser did “not have legitimate business in the school safety zone” as Weinsier clearly did.
There is no mention of a School Safety Zone in Florida Statute 790.06, which addresses Concealed Weapons Permits. The law simply states that is unlawful to carry a concealed weapon into a “public school district”, “school”, “college” or “school administration building”.
However, Florida Statute 790.115, which addresses the possession or discharging of a firearm at a school-sponsored event or school property, states that is a felony to possess a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.
So it’s obvious authorities are going to be focusing on the concealed weapon as they try to build a case against Weinsier.
And that is a shame because the only weapon he needed at the time was the one being openly carried by his videographer.211