More Evidence That the Miami Police Department is Out of Control

It was inevitable. There is too large a police presence in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood and the attitudes of some of the officers there are too aggressive for me to be able to live and work in the community for long without being harassed.

Today was the day. This morning I was physically assaulted by a Miami Police Department officer. I’m still not sure exactly what I did to provoke her.

The video above clearly shows what happened – I was on a public sidewalk outside of a yellow police tape that had been put up to designate a crime scene. I attempted to shoot video of the police officers working the area and interacting with neighborhood residents when WHAM! Suddenly Officer J. Mayorga, Badge Number 4212, decided that I didn’t say “How high?” quickly enough when she said “Jump!” So she came after me. Perhaps Ms. Mayorga doesn’t like cameras or doesn’t like photographers or woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, but whatever her motivation, her actions were clearly unreasonable, illegal and a violation of my civil rights.

Sadly, it seems that some Miami Police Department officers will stop at nothing, including drawing their weapons and shooting unarmed citizens, in order to assert their authority in Overtown and the surrounding, primarily black, neighborhoods.

One would think that an officer working a double shooting just as school busses are picking up children in the neighborhood would have better things to do than harass and physically assault a bystander shooting video with an iPhone on a public sidewalk.

But as a new resident of Overtown, I am quickly learning that some members of the Miami Police Department have priorities other than what the department claims to be its “core values,” including “Respect for the rules of law and the dignity of all human beings.” If these officers say up is down, down is up and the sky is green I’d better agree with them and do so quickly, because my dignity, the rules of law and my rights as a citizen extend only as far as these individuals’ emotional whims and personal prejudices.

My run in with Ms. Mayorga is just another example of how the police culture in Miami is out of control. It is a culture produces officers who are reactive rather than proactive, and whose reactions, even when thoughtless and disproportionate, are accepted and even encouraged by their colleagues and superiors. (Click here and here for more examples of how Miami police and armed private security guards harass photographers. Click here to read about the lawsuit photojournalist Carlos Miller has filed in response.)

My experience with police harassment in Overtown is insignificant relative to what the permanent residents of Overtown endure on a daily basis. My heart goes out to these people, Miami’s “Towners for Life,” but as the folks say in the video below, “This Is Overtown.”

6 Responses to “More Evidence That the Miami Police Department is Out of Control”

  1. sandra March 31, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    People that hate cops will always do and say beyond the facts look at the video yourself again and rephrase your words. I think you have alot more to learn. And as you mentioned cops don’t like the cameras in their faces they’re not hollywood stars. Go to hollywood and find yourself a real job and maybe you can get a real camera where you can be shooting videos and pictures to people will enjoy it the most. Good luck!

  2. Alex de Carvalho April 1, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    Clearly officers are not trained in handling these situations, even though most people carry cameraphones, flipcams, and other recording equipment. If it is illegal to photograph officers investigating a crime scene in a public place, then the photographer should be arrested. If it is not illegal, then the photographer should be left alone.

    What happened here is neither of these cases. What happened here is something in between and clearly subject to each police officer’s personal interpretation. One officer shoves the camera while another asks the photographer to move away. What is the law?

    More importantly, how are journalists supposed to report on crimes if they cannot document crime scenes? The story you linked to on Local10 includes a photo of the crime scene, including the officers.

  3. Some Blogging Guy April 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    You are 100% correct. The police down here are out of control. And getting worse. Keep up the good work!

  4. Dean Warthout April 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    I think we should issue pen-sized video recorders to every resident of Overtown. Let’s document every single incident of rogue policing but let’s do it with stealth. There are an army of us and we’ll all be filming you, Miami Police. Get used to this brave new world where you are accountable on You Tube!

  5. Alexander Carbonell July 25, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    That officer that assaulted you is going down. She is no longer going to be an officer. Along with three other cops they think, they can do whatever they want. karma is biting them in the ass.I have video of her falsely arresting me. I currently have a lawsuit against the city . best wishes

  6. Alexander Carbonell July 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    On June 16, 2011 officer J. Mayorga Falsely arrest Mr.CARBONELL for asking two questions.The problem is that nobody exercises there rights because they don’t teach you that in school.The police know this, so they are accustomed to violating peoples rights.We must learn our rights and take a stand at whatever the cost. Like the legendary Bob Marley said in one of his songs. get up ,stand up,stand for your right, get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight

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