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The party in the police state: Memorial Day weekend, race and badge-heavy feds


Picture 1South Beach’s Memorial Day 2013 bash is a party in a police state.

Barricades line the South Beach streets. Mobile watchtowers rise on Ocean Drive. And packs of officers on foot, bicycles and ATVs keep the partiers — and even the guys grilling on the beach — in line.

The result as of Saturday afternoon: No one got shot, unlike in 2011. No one had his face chewed off, unlike 2012.

And few seem too concerned with a police presence. But many feel it’s a little too heavy and a little too targeted toward African-American youth, who have made Memorial Day on South Beach as big as it is controversial.

“A lot of people say it’s a hassle,” said Evan McCloud, a 30-year-old from Bridgeport Conn. “But it’s not that bad if you’re minding your own business.”

“It’s not like the police are just bothering people,” he said.

Moments later, a pack of bike-mounted police officers stopped to talk to him and his two friends as they cooked with two $4 Publix-bought disposable grills balanced on a section of wall between the beach and the promenade.

“No grilling,” one officer said. “You have to put that out.”

“I give you an A for ingenuity,” said another.

Story is here.

Picture 6Later, about 11:15 p.m. Saturday around Drexel Avenue and 14th Street, a gaggle of Miami Beach Police and at least one federal marshal had stopped 4 black males, pulled them out of their car and appeared to be searching it.

When I tried to get a photograph from a safe distance (a street corner sidewalk), one cop said " get the fuck out of here." That's when the record button on the iPhone was pushed.

Man, some cops sure hate cameras. Most of the good ones don't. They have nothing to hide. And most police are good, decent and hard-working people who have a tough job. But not all are.

A good example of a professional officer: Miami Beach Detective Juan Sam Pedro, who diffused the situation. A department spokesman said the agency has made sure that its officers respect the rights of the press after a run-in with a Channel 10 camera man in 2011.

"All Miami Beach Police Officers were trained into the 'do’s and don’ts' when it comes to picture taking in a public area by anyone including News Media Personnel," Robert Hernandez said.

The two officers who wanted all recording stopped were not city police, Hernandez said. It's therefore likely they were both with the marshal's service.

Of course, there will be those who think it's perfectly OK for police to command a person (reporter or simply private citizen) to move. However, it's well-accepted case law in Florida that a person has the right to photograph a public scene in public, provided it doesn't interfere with law enforcement's legitimate investigation. In this case, I was well away from the crime scene, and there was no threat.

And had I been allowed to photograph from the safe distance away, there would have been no confrontation -- and no video.


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If it is OK for the Feds to tap reporters' phones, why is is not OK for cops to hassle reporters?


Braver man than I, Marc.


The guy from CT doesn't know how cops treat ppl in Sobe on other wknds, so he doesn't recognize the drastic difference.

Mark Sanchez

Well away from the scene? So you know what they were investigating or you just assumed you weren't interfering? I saw 3 males on floor right behind the cops you were messing with. I think you need to walk a mile in their shoes Marc, 2 have to deal with you now while your spreading your I have a right to be here crap, while 3 guys are behind them. Why didn't you just film from across the street in the first place not arms length.


It seemed you were pro icing them to try and get an actual story..


I don’t know why this reporter had to harass The MBPD. It seemed to me that the officers were intentionally being pestered by the reporter to get a reaction out of them. An investigation was being conducted. Although the video was dark it looked like the camera person was too close to the people being arrested. If I were the cops, I would have done the same thing and asked the reporter to move away. He could have filmed from across the street and zoomed in. Plus, the reporter said the cops were coming off in an “intimidating fashion” when it was the reporter who seemed to be intimidating them. That B.S. from the reporter saying “I pay your salary”. That is always the last word from any citizen who has a grudge about something and has lost an argument. Finally when the reporter realized it was going nowhere and he was leaving, he had to give the cops one last jab and say “You are acting like this because you have a gun and a badge, and you are badge heavy cop”.

What kind of unprofessional reporting is this when the reporter lets emotions get in the way? I don’t want to know the officers badge numbers or who their superiors are, I want to know who this reporter’s boss is and why is this on The Miami Herald??

Last, as a Miami Beach native born in Mt. Siani in 73 I want to thank Officer San Pedro and the rest of The MBPD for all of what you go through to keep us safe. I have no idea what you must have to endure night after night, but THANK YOU!!


This reporter is a dush. He is trying to stir something up. I can't believe the Herald posted this garbage. I wish the cops would of arrested this clown. You were totally out of line.


Did you guys watch the same video as us, or are you just cops or something? The fact that you guys don't even take the time to use Marc's name leads me to believe you aren't regular readers.

The reporter was standing on a public sidewalk and was pro-actively engaged BY a US Marshal. If anything the US Marshal started the situation, refused to even look at Marc's ID, refused to ID himself, and basically tried to intimidate a member of the public. I think the local police officer who stepped in actually did an admirable job to defuse the situation and he clearly knew Marc was in the right. Although, Marc probably went a little overboard in keeping up the arguing at the end when he shouted after the US Marshal about the phone call, the US Marshal clearly demonstrated that he was again a jerk that had no respect for members of the South Florida community and capped it off by talking about its a Sunday and blah, blah, blah.

Bill Cotterell

Hey, don't look at this from Marc's perspective or from the cops' perspective. Imagine if you were one of those four guys seated on the pavement with their backs against their car door.
First, Caputo was approached by the cops, he didn't interfere with them. Second, he is politely asking some public employees about how they're doing their jobs. If they're too busy to talk right now, fine, they don't have to -- but they can't tell a citizen standing on a corner he can't observe or shoot video.
Not knowing the terrain, I don't know if Marc was too close or if the cops just wanted him across the street so their actions couldn't be observed. But it doesn't appear he's interfering.
I've worked with Marc in Tallahassee for several years. I've seen him hold public employees, including governors and legislators, to the same standard. Like, "You have our tax money and legal authority, we can ask you how you're using it."
There are plenty of countries, and plenty of periods in our history, when people could not question authority or the press could not examine government actions. I'm not aware of that ever working out well.

Kathy h

Marc Caputo and Bill Cotterell (one of the commentators)are two of the most respected reporters in the State. Both cover the Tallahassee political beat providing us with news about the questionable actions of elected officials and State government agencies. Both provide us with news that is relevant to every citizen. They are why "freedom of the press" is such an important aspect of this country's constitutional rights. Bravo, gentlemen!


Frank, before you assume things, I am not a cop or have any affiliates. I don’t know what the correlation is between me not using Marc Caputo’s name that led you to believe that I wasn’t a regular reader. I am simply a local resident who Google’d from my phone “memorial day weekend miami 2013” to see how crowded the traffic going down to Lincoln Rd. was going to be as I was contemplating having dinner there. I am not at all a political/activist type person and not a regular reader of The Herald, and have never commented on an article before. But, when I saw this article I got pretty upset that Miami Beach was called a “police state”. I think that went too far. If it were true, then it wouldn’t bother me, but it’s not!! Miami Beach is very dependent on tourism dollars and the last thing we need is a badge heavy reporter using his/her power to try and get a story at the expense of all the business owners that depend on these dollars. I am sure that there is going to be at least one possible tourist that sees this video and says “maybe we won’t go to Miami Beach”. One U.S. Marshall reacting a bit too abruptly towards Marc’s sarcastic tone towards him is not a story that warrants saying that “Police want no media presence”. Personally I would never put up with someone talking to me in the sarcastic demeaning tone the way Marc did towards the Marshall when he said “apparently not” (reacting to not knowing what a Herald press pass looks like). Also, when officer San Pedro calmed Marc down, listen to how sarcastically Marc said “Thank you”. Having said that, I think Marc was in the right about his situation BUT in my opinion, he handled it very unprofessional with his attitude towards the officers. I do commend him for what he was trying to accomplish, but I think he just pushed it too far.


The biggest barrier to freedom are those who don't mind sacrificing rights because "if you're not doing anything wrong...."

Memorial Day remembers and celebrates those who gave their lives for the very freedoms that some of the commenters here would brush off.

Did our Grandfathers brave a deadly hail of machine gun fire on the beaches of Normandy so that the police could intimidate the citizens? Did tour Fathers and Uncles die in the jungles of Vietnam so we could be wiretapped, surveiled, and watched for signs of political heresy 24-7-365?
Are our Brothers dying in Afghanistan & Iraq right now because they feel that a fascist police state is the right way to bring peace to a society?

We must have the right to question the police. We must have the right to film them in the process of policing (otherwise how do we ever challenge methods that we find unacceptable?) We have a social contract. We give up some certain liberties for the benefit of all. I think we'd agree that we never agreed to go this far.

I applaud Marc's courage. If more of us were 1/2 as brave, we might be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf in dark places 1/2 a world away.


Marc looked like he was out to pick a fight, I'm a cop from NYC and he was too close he should know better. Also so sick and tired of the I pay your salary crap! I pay taxes all public servants do so I guess I pay my own salary Marc! Marc is brave? Are you kidding me? The cops aren't?


There was no "story" here. The reporter was out of line. Whether they were Federal Marshals or Police is irrelevant. They were officers on the job at 11PM on Memorial Day week-end. I am sure they have families or friends they could have been with, but they were doing their job and don't need a snarky reporter in their face with a camera trying to make himself a "news worthy" story. Egregious. As far as the comment about the tax payer who pays their salary, for real? I'm a tax payer that buys products that are advertised in newspapers and tv ads which pays THIS REPORTER's salary! He should be ashamed of this video and story.

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