A number of folks have requested updates to the July 1, 2010, post concerning my lifetime banishment from the Miami-Dade Metrorail.
I’m pleased to report that since I returned to Miami in early September I have been riding said metro unmolested. I have even made a few photographs while riding the metro, though not nearly as many as my friend Carlos Miller, who organized not one but two groups of camera toting defenders of the First Amendment to descend upon Miami’s Douglas Road station wielding enough cameras to make Kim Kardashian blush.
After both Mickey Osterreicher of the National Press Photographers’ Association and Stephen Murray of the Coconut Grove Village Council wrote letters on behalf of Carlos and I, Miami-Dade County Manager George M. Burgess responded in late September that Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) had met with the private security company contracted to patrol the metro and “stressed the right of the public to photograph in common areas of its public facilities. To that end, all contracted security officers have been retrained on the appropriate manner in which to enforce” the relevant Miami-Dade County ordinance 30b-5(2). Mr. Burgess further stated that a copy of the relevant ordinance had been placed “at all MDT Metrorail security kiosks.”
I have compiled the correspondence into the single, chronologically organized PDF above.
Though I consider this result a victory, I wonder why Miami-Dade County didn’t feel it necessary to retrain the police officers from the various jurisdictions who were also involved in the skirmish. I was more shocked by city/county officers’ ignorance of a law they’re paid to uphold than I was by the behavior of the officers’ rent-a-cop consorts. I suspect that had the real police officers been properly trained in the enforcement of 30b-5(2) the security guards would’ve saluted smartly and snapped, “Sir, yes, sir” once they’d been informed of the error of their ways. A working knowledge of the law by Miami-Dade law enforcement personnel sure would have saved everyone a lot of hassle, that’s for sure.
One final thought as I consider the hell Carlos and I went through because of the “terrorist threat” we posed with our cameras – Though “the powerful bombs recently concealed inside cargo packages and destined for the United States were expertly constructed and unusually sophisticated,” none of the devices involved cameras. Yet while they were constructed using a usually innocuous device that millions of passengers carry aboard the country’s mass transit systems millions of times a day, always without a second thought from any security guard – the lowly cell phone – I’m not holding my breath until an individual carrying a camera is considered less of a terrorist threat than an individual carrying a phone.