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April 13, 2023
Miami Beach police officers are no longer enforcing a new law that critics believe has emboldened officers to arrest bystanders using their phones to film police on duty.
The department announced Thursday that it had suspended the law last month following a series a controversial arrests, the Miami Herald reported. Chief Richard Clements ordered the local law’s enforcement to be suspended on July 26, police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said. The temporary stoppage will allow for officers to receive additional training, Rodriguez said.
In the early morning hours of the day the ordinance was suspended, two men were arrested as they video recorded police officers at the Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach. One man was filming police as they repeatedly beat a handcuffed man accused of fleeing police after striking an officer with a scooter, officials said. The second man was arrested after filming officers as they waited outside the lobby to transport the first man to jail.
Thirteen people have been arrested under the ordinance, according to arrest data provided by police. At least eight of those arrests were of people who had been using their phones to record officers. All 13 were young Black men or women. Most of them still face a potential criminal trial, including Maple.
The ordinance, which the Miami Beach City Commission unanimously approved on June 23, did not gain widespread visibility until after a series of rough arrests at the Royal Palm hotel in South Beach on July 26. Miami Beach police have been accused in the past of improperly and aggressively responding to people who record them while on duty.
Activists have also long accused Miami Beach police of treating minority groups unfairly. The local ordinance, which the city commission passed unanimously on June 23, makes it a crime to stand within 20 feet (about six meters) of officers with the “intent to impede, provoke or harass” them.
ARTICLE: JENNIFER BARRETO-LEYVA
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MIAMI HERALD