Miller’s trial is scheduled for July 25, 2012, and he’s raising money for his defense through his blog. “After the trial, I will file civil suit for deleting my footage. We need to send a message we won’t tolerate that,” says Miller. Officer Nancy Perez, the Miami-Dade policewoman who halted Miller at the Occupy eviction, maintains that the police did not delete his footage. “I can count seven videographers that were there taping the whole thing,” says Perez. “I had my own videographer there. Why would I need his?”

Officer Perez says that the bottom line is that people have the right to record officers. “They are not breaking the law,” says Perez, but she explains why she thinks these arrests might be happening. “I think there is a certain paranoia that’s occurring,” says Perez. “It’s not that they’re just going to show them in the line of duty. It’s the fact that a lot of unethical people do edit stuff and then spin it for other reasons.”

Perez says that possessing a press pass has nothing to do with people’s ability to record in public; but many police around the country do ask for credentials, and Stearns says that identifying yourself and your intentions is a good first step. “It shouldn’t be a necessity for your First Amendment rights to be protected, but I think in the heat of the moment, that is a helpful thing,” says Stearns.

Miller hopes others will go out and assert their rights to record. “Be professional,” he says “but be firm. Say no sir, the law is this, and I am completely within my rights to record you.” If asked to turn the camera off, “keep it rolling for your own self defense,” says Miller. “If they try to take your camera or delete your footage, then they are breaking the law.”

For his site’s fifth anniversary, Miller told readers he was planning to roll out a PINAC citizen-journalism press pass, so that his readers would be prepared when they’re asked to show press credentials. He plans to print and laminate the passes himself, and to outsource the process if they’re in high demand. He’ll be selling the passes through a new site he hopes will help him bring in money, called PINAC Nation, where he will sell merchandise related to his blog. The goal is to eventually hire a staff of two reporters to help him cover more stories. “In the beginning I had to search for these stories, and now they come to me,” says Miller. “I can’t cover all of them. A lot of stories go untold.”

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

 

Alysia Santo is a former assistant editor at CJR.