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Miami Beach Police Temporarily Suspend Ordinance Used Against People Filming Officers

MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) -- The Miami Beach Police Department has temporarily suspended a new ordinance that critics say was being used to arrest bystanders using their cellphone video cameras to record police on duty.

According to a statement released by police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez, "On July 26, at the directive of the Police Chief, MBPD has temporarily suspended the enforcement of CMB Ordinance 70-8 until all Miami Beach officers receive additional, in-person training on the nuances of the ordinance. As a result, there have been no arrests pursuant to this ordinance since July 26."

The local ordinance passed in June makes it a crime to stand within 20 feet of officers with the "intent to impede, provoke or harass" them.

Arrest data provided by the police shows that 13 people have been arrested under the ordinance. At least eight of those arrests were of people who had been video recording officers. All 13 were young Black men or women.

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.

Miami Beach Rough Arrest Surveillance Images
Surveillance video image of rough arrests that led to criminal charges being filed against 5 Miami Beach police officers. (Courtesy: Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office)

Prosecutors later dropped the charges against both men and filed misdemeanor battery charges against five police officers who had been at the scene.

A day before the hotel arrests, police pepper-sprayed and arrested a woman who had been filming a traffic stop in South Beach. The charge against the woman hasn't been dropped.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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