Miami-Dade Police Watched Photog's Facebook Before Arresting Him at Occupy Miami Bust

Carlos Miller isn't shy about his M.O. -- he believes photographers have the right to photograph police on the job, and he's more than willing to get arrested to prove his point. So it's not necessarily a surprise that cops are well aware of the 305's most rabble-rousing photog. Yet there's still something deeply unsettling about a batch of internal emails that Miller just posted from MDPD's Homeland Security team.

The emails show that in the lead-up to January's mass eviction of Occupy Miami protesters, MDPD anti-terrorism unit was actively monitoring Miller's personal Facebook page.

The emails, which Miller acquired via a Freedom of Information Act request, show that hours before his arrest on Jan. 31 MDPD's Homeland Security bureau sent out an alert titled "Multimedia information/ Situational Awareness" that included Miller's Facebook profile picture.

Here's what they had to say about the photographer to the other cops on the eve of their raid on Occupy Miami's encampment at Government Center:

Carlos Miller is a Miami multimedia journalist who has been arrested twice for taking pictures of law enforcement. He has publicly posted on social networks that he will be taking pictures today in order to document the eviction.
In other words, the Homeland Security team was checking out Miller's status updates with sufficient regularity to know that he'd be out photographing the raid.

Miller says he's got no problem with anyone checking out his Facebook -- it's set to be public, after all -- but it seems odd that an anti-terrorism task force would be watching out for a photographer.

"These guys are trying to keep our borders safe from terrorists with guns or bombs or chemicals and they're spending their time on my Facebook page?" Miller tells Riptide. "My thing is cameras. I take pictures, that's it."

An MDPD spokeswoman says the department is reviewing the emails that led up to Miller's arrest.

"We continue to await the outcome of the judicial process before making any statements regarding this incident," says Lt. Rosana Cordero-Stutz.

Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association, echoes Miller's concerns with the email.

"I find it very troubling that a unit formed to deal with terrorist activities found it necessary to send out an email advising other departments and law enforcement officers that a journalist would be covering a newsworthy matter of public concern," he writes in an email to Miller.

Miller is still facing a criminal charge for obstruction of justice. It's a bizarre charge considering that Miller recovered video he shot of the arrest that seems to confirm that other media at the scene who were doing exactly the same thing as him weren't arrested.

The photographer says the emails suggest that he was targeted for arrest by Maj. Nancy Perez -- the head of MDPD's public information office, who personally arrested Miller at the scene.

"What really blows my mind is that you have Maj. Nancy Perez, the head of the PIO office, who's spearheading this whole thing," Miller says. "You'd think she of all people would be familiar with the freedom of the press."

You can read all the emails Miller obtained from MDPD at his site, Photography is Not a Crime.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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