Four black youths sat in the middle of the street as police swarmed around them.
I went to take a picture from the sidewalk. An officer said I couldn’t.
“I’m a reporter with the Miami Herald.” I said.
The response, delivered from a U.S. Marshal: “Get the f--- outta here.”
If there’s a slogan for how some in the federal government sometimes view the press and the public, it’s that: Get the [expletive] out of here.
After being sworn at, I insisted on remaining and started shooting video. But neither that Marshal nor another would give his name as we exchanged not-so-friendly words.
Ostensibly, the dispute looks like a case of over -policing Miami Beach’s Memorial Day weekend. (In a separate caught-on-camera moment, Miami-Dade Police cuffed and applied a choke-hold to a black 14-year-old, whose resisting-arrest charge came after officers said he looked threatening and gave them, according to CBS4, “dehumanizing stares.”)
On another level, the confrontation between police and press is a window into a secrecy-obsessed unaccountable government. It’s particularly common in the federal system, and not just with the Marshals.
The agency that houses the Marshal’s Service, the U.S. Department of Justice, has seized phone records of more than 100 staffers at the Associated Press. DOJ also accused a FOX News reporter of essentially being a spy and went so far as to obtain his parents’ phone records.
To explain himself, Attorney General Eric Holder offered an off-the-record meeting with some media organizations. Some declined the invitation, only to have a Democratic National Committee spokesman say this on Twitter to the press: “Kind of forfeits your right gripe.”
Translation: Get the expletive outta here.