PINAC News was launched as Photography is Not a Crime two months after its founder, Carlos Miller, was brutally arrested for photographing a group of five Miami police officers conducting a traffic investigation on the side of one of Miami’s busiest streets, Biscayne Blvd.
It was February 20, 2007 and Miller, a veteran journalist, was on assignment for a local website, working on a story about gentrification in Miami’s Upper Eastside neighborhood when he began photographing the cops from more than 50 feet away.
The cops demanded to know who he was and Miller told them he was a journalist. The cops told him it was a “private matter” and ordered him to walk away.
Miller reminded them it was a “public road” and continued photographing them which was when the five cops approached him, threatening to arrest him if he did not walk away.
Miller, who had spent the prior decade covering the police beat for various newspapers, stood his ground and continued taking photos, knowing it was his First Amendment right to do so.
The cops responded by pouncing on him and beating him, twisting his arms behind his back and bashing his head into the sidewalk, throwing him in jail on nine misdemeanors.
Miller published his account of the arrest on a political website a few days later and the story went viral, picked up by blogs throughout the country, which made him realize the power of the blogosphere which was thriving at the time, especially in South Florida where there were dozens of blogs on various subjects including a few who criticized him for daring to photographing police against their wishes.
It was a time when the country was still under the spell of 9/11 which meant that anybody with a camera was considered a potential terrorist. A time when police still had control of the narrative, falsely claiming that Miller had been standing in the middle of the street blocking traffic while yelling profanities at the cops.
But Miller began to change that when he launched his own blog on April 28, 2007 to document his trial after the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office refused to dismiss the case. Miller also wanted to educate the public about their rights when it comes to photographing police in public because most people at the time were under the impression that it was illegal.
The blog quickly became popular with supporters praising him for standing up for his rights and haters trashing him for photographing cops against their wishes.
It was not long before Miller began reporting on other citizens getting arrested for taking photos in public throughout the country, revealing a widespread but unconstitutional pattern that was not being reported by the mainstream media.
It was a hard-fought battle that lasted several years because the local cops kept arresting him for legally photographing or recording in public during a time when Homeland Security was monitoring his every move on social media, which was revealed during a public records investigation.
But Miller, who was arrested four times in seven years, beat all his cases in court, including a conviction he had reversed upon appeal after he proved the judge, a former police attorney, had allowed improper evidence against him in trial as he expressed disdain for the blog.
Those victories were only made possible by the PINAC Community which donated the legal funds to keep him in the fight. Those victories showed the world that photography is not a crime
Today, most Americans, including police officers, judges and prosecutors are well-aware that we have the right to record cops in public, so the original mission has been accomplished.
And now that most citizens have cameras on their phones, we are seeing that police abuse takes place daily in cities and countries across the country. We are also seeing that most of these abusive cops have long been protected by their own departments as well as by prosecutors and judges and other government officials.
That is why PINAC’s new mission is to build a database of bad cops which we will do by educating citizens on how to obtain public records through their local governments, specifically the Brady List from local prosecutors’ offices.
But this mission will only be accomplished through your donations because Big Tech has taken on the role of government by restricting our reach on the basis that we report on “social issues” which is how they define police abuse.
Read more about the PINAC Brady Cop Project here or make a donation below.