Activist Assaulted by Miami Police for Taking Photos

Carlos Miller

Activist Assaulted by Miami Police for Taking Photos.

Renita Holmes, a Miami inner-city activist, said a police officer assaulted her while she was photographing a candlelight vigil last month.

The vigil was to memorialize a man named Marvis Williams, whom she said was the eighth person to be killed in this area of Overtown within the last year.

A Miami police officer named Keandra Simmons – who is related to Williams – did not want Holmes photographing the vigil.

“She said, ‘why don’t you leave? Why do you have to take pictures?’” Holmes said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime.

“She was not in uniform. She comes running out of the crowds of the marching family and says, ‘get the fuck out of here, this is my motherfucking family.”

Holmes stood her ground, telling Simmons she had the right to document the vigil.

“Next thing you know, I got this big black man pushing against me,” she said.

“I put my camera in my pocket and they’re pushing me towards my car. They’re saying, ‘you’re causing a disturbance.’

Holmes, who had been holding her seven-year-old son’s hand, ended up getting separated from him during the tussle.

“(The cop) was grabbing my arm and wrist and pushing me. I wasn’t resisting him.”

Another cop pulled out his handcuffs as the first cop pushed her towards her truck.

“They basically bum rushed me. They didn’t say anything to anybody else who was standing there.”

Once in her truck, she demanded to know his name and badge number because he was wearing a police t-shirt without a nameplate.

He refused to give it to her so she drove to a local precinct where she tried to file a complaint.

She ended up talking a group of other cops, including one who threatened to arrest her for making a false report.

“I told them to go ahead, I would sue them for making a false arrest,” she said.

She kept asking them for the name of the officer whom she said assaulted her, but they refused to give it to her.

Through other sources, she eventually found out his name was Hank Kelly, but she isn’t even sure that is his real first name.

She also ended up filing a complaint with internal affairs, but hasn’t heard back from them.

Those of us familiar with internal affairs investigations know that when and if they do get back to her, they are not going to sustain her allegations against the officer.

We wouldn’t expect anything less from cops investigating cops.

Note: Although the photos are dated 1/1/2008, they were taken last month.


Citizen Journalism