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National Press Photographers Association, Inc.

The Society of Professional Photojournalists Mickey H. Osterreicher, General Counsel


69 Delaware Ave. Suite 500
Phone: (716) 983-7800 • Fax: (716) 608-1509
lawyer@nppa.org

VIA FACSIMILE

July 2, 2010

George K. Wysong
Assistant City Attorney
Miami Police Department
400 NW 2nd Avenue
Miami, Florida 33128

Re: Photography & Filming Policy

Dear Mr. Wysong,

Please be advised that the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has been
made aware of a recent incident involving Charles Ledford, who was ordered not to take
photographs in and around the Douglas Road Metro stop as well as being denied access to
your transit system even though he had purchased a ticket. See:
http://verystretchy.com/blog/2010.07.01/banned-from-metro. What is almost as disturbing as
that unconstitutional infringement of his First Amendment rights is the justification given by
transit guards employed by 50 State Security backed up by Metro-Dade and Miami police
officers and someone identifying themselves as an employee of the Department of Homeland
Security.

All of those involved in obstructing Mr. Ledford from taking pictures and barring his
entry into the metro system justified their actions by invoking concerns about “terrorism”
claiming that “it was against the law” for him to make photographs at the station and/or that he
was engaged in commercial activity. While law enforcement personnel may be on “high alert”
Article I, Section 2-11.14.(b)(2) of the Miami-Dade County Code of Ordinances sets forth the
exceptions to Chapter 30B-5 of the Miami-Dade Transit Rules and Regulations whereby
“[n]othing in this section shall require any permit from: (i) Individuals filming or video taping
only for their own personal or family use; (ii) Employees of print or electronic news media
when filming on-going news events. This exception shall not apply to simulations or re-
enactments orchestrated by print or electronic news media; or (iii) Students and faculty
filming exclusively for educational purposes. It should have been very apparent that Mr.
Ledford was exempted from the prohibition against photography by either (i) or (iii).

While I appreciate your concerns for public safety I would hope that you can
understand that photography/videography by itself is not a dangerous or pernicious activity
unless accompanied by other behavior giving rise to probable cause or reasonable suspicion
that would merit further investigation. Equating this activity with terrorism creates an
atmosphere of initial distrust and suspicion, which has led to this incident and the
unconstitutional actions by Miami law enforcement. Public photography/videography is a
protected First Amendment right of expression limited by reasonable time, place and manner
restrictions. The key word here (as in most cases) being “reasonable.”

Additionally, any limitation on permitted photography should be governed by the


amount of disruption such activity causes, such as blocking access to walkways for extended
periods of time or interfering with MDT operations or personnel. It should not be based upon
te personal opinions or prejudices of individuals or officers. It should also be recognized that
when a person has finished taking photos/videos in a reasonable manner, without having done
anything else, stopping that person for questioning may cause more of a disruption than the
activity itself.

This is not the first time that our association has had to deal with these issues. In 2005
NPPA successfully opposed a Manhattan Transit Authority proposed rule change that would
have banned photography and videotaping in its subways and bus systems. Last year I
personally worked with the Amtrak Police General Counsel to revise their photography
guidelines and police general order. I am more than willing to do the same here. Last month I
addressed a similar issue with the MARTA system in Atlanta and am working with their law
department to create an improved photography policy. NPPA sincerely wishes to work
together with you to avoid any further incidents regarding photography and interference with
people engaged in First Amendment activity. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank
you for your attention in this matter.

Sincerely,

Mickey H. Osterreicher
Mickey H. Osterreicher
NPPA General Counsel

cc: Sam Terrilli, Esq.