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

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: 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 reenactments 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.


Mickey H. Osterreicher
Mickey H. Osterreicher NPPA General Counsel cc: Sam Terrilli, Esq.

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