June 17, 2011

The Public Wins One

DSC_3035Last week, there were signs posted all around the historic Himmarshee Village in Fort Lauderdale, stating that "photography of this area is prohibited", that the ban is "strictly enforced by FLPD",  and "violators subjet (sic) to arrest".  The signs even cited a city ordinance.

The law cited, City Ordinance 16-1, reads:
Sec. 16-1. - State Offenses and county ordinances adopted
(a) State Felony.  It shall be unlawful for any person to commit, within the corporate limits of the city, any act which is or shall be recognized by the laws of the state as a felony, felony of the first degree, felony of the second degree, or felony of the third degree.
(b) State misdemeanor.  It shall be unlawful for any person to commit, within the corporate limits of the city, any act which is or shall be recognized by the laws of the state of the as a misdemeanor.
(c) County Ordinance. It shall be unlawful for any person to commit, within the corporate limits of the city, any act which is or shall be recognized as a violation of any county ordinance which is effective within the city.
(d) Penalties.  Any person convicted of violating this section, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld shall be punished in accordance with the penalty clause of the state statute that the person, corporation or entity was convicted of violating.
Basically, all that 16-1 says is "if it's against the law in the State and the County, it's illegal here, too."

Photography is not illegal in the State of Florida, or in Broward County.  It can't be. As we noted above, it's protected under the First Amendment.

At least one lawsuit was filed, and Carlos Miller arranged for a group of photographers to make an appearance in Himmarshee Village.


Carlos Miller being interviewed by Channel 7.

But by the time we arrived on the scene, all the offensive signs had been removed.

This photo shows the same corner as the first photo in this article, a few days later.

Another difference in the last few days; uniformed cars have been replaced with un-marked cars.  But there were still armed, off-duty police officers working security.

One of them tried pretty hard not to start citing the photographers, but her job was made difficult by the odd decision not to have any clear demarcation between public areas and the area being blocked off for the production.  She couldn't resist going to the manager of  Bourbon on 2nd Street to try and incite some trespassing charges; she stepped inside the restaurant, and within a minute or two, he stuck his head out to see if we were blocking the door.

Which we weren't.

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Off-duty police officer pointing out the line she wants us standing behind. 
She never did produce any supporting documentation for that line.


And what did they not want us to see?

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I don't know either.  The Glades never riled up such a fuss; I hope whoever thought the signs were a good approach gets the pink slip they richly deserve.  Oh, not for the feeble attempt to violate our rights; for exposing the production to needless negative publicity. This should never have been an issue.

I would hope that this doesn't affect future productions from filming in South Florida.  A lot of productions film without incident, and without riling up the locals.

We promise we won't interrupt your shoot if you don't violate our right to have one, too.

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