The video below, captured on Wednesday, July 02, 2014, relates to a situation that unfolded in south Florida that involved Livingston Manners and some still, as-of-yet unidentified Hollywood police employees.
We at Cop Block would like to address the article written and shared to Cop Block’s Facebook page by former author, Christopher Cantwell, entitled Dead Men Don’t Start Revolutions, as it was reasonably and understandably concerning to many of you and many of us.
As you know, Cop Block is entirely run by, and composed of, various dedicated and passionate volunteers. Our practice is to encourage almost all forms of discourse, as we believe there to be merit in the free exchange of ideas. We welcome discussions of all types, and are always thrilled when people volunteer to take on more responsibilities in the organization. However, we seek to maintain an underlying commitment to the non-aggression principle. In our view, Mr. Cantwell’s inflammatory call for violence and thinly-veiled implication that all cops, regardless of individual actions, should be subject to death, encourages a violation of the non-aggression principle.
We, the undersigned, would like to make known that we as individuals do not endorse Cantwell’s writings and as writers and team members of Cop Block, we affirm the Non-Aggression Principle and do not wish violence on anyone. We aren’t about promoting violence; we’re about educating, revealing the reality of the police state, and spreading the idea that Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.
DEO Odolecki, Greater Cleveland Cop Block, Ohio Cop Block
(Edit:Toni bones has requested her name be removed to avoid any confusion. “I requested my name be removed to avoid any confusion. admittedly I should have gone over this better before attaching my name to it. while I agree that Christopher’s post was against CopBlock guidelines and that I certainly do not advocate slaughtering anyone in public at your own discretion whether they have stolen others or not and find such notions extremely counterproductive to achieving a peaceful transition out of oppression. I do however advocate self defense and absolutely support his right to express himself. I do think that he violated CopBlock guidelines but I do not I think that he violated the non aggression principle and I would not wish to give the impression that I did not believe wholeheartedly that controversial speech is the very most important to protect, whether we agree with it or not. peace love and liberty”)
For a good breakdown of our reasoning, please see the following.
The idea that people do not have the right to initiate violence upon others is one that can be subject to a multitude of different interpretations. For our purposes here at Cop Block, it looks something like this:
First, let’s define “self-defense” and “justified force/violence.”
As a general matter, self-defense (or defense of another) is the use of reasonable force to repel, prevent, or protect the self, or another from imminent attack or danger. Another type of justified force would be use of violence/force for purposes of rectifying/compensating the effects of initiatory violence. Examples of this would be using appropriate/proportional force to retrieve stolen property, or seek restitution for a victim of initiatory violence, among others.
Contrary to what Mr. Cantwell’s article claims, it is not impossible to murder an aggressor, or aggress upon an aggressor; this is patently incorrect. Consider, for example, the following: Aggressor 1 punches Victim in the head, and runs off. The next day, Aggressor 2, a stranger to both Aggressor 1 and Victim, randomly ambushes Aggressor 1 and kills him. As Agressor 2′s actions are neither 1) reasonable force to prevent an attack, nor 2) use of violence/force for purposes of rectifying/compensating initiatory violence against himself, this would constitute murder. It is still initiation of aggression, even though Aggressor 1 also was an initiator of aggression upon someone else, in a separate circumstance.
This analysis does not change if the actors are police officers. Here at Cop Block, we stress that police are human like everyone else; they are not gods as most Americans are led to believe thanks to decades of indoctrination via government schools and corporate media, and ought to be subject to the same rules, responsibilities, and consequences as ordinary individuals. Badges don’t grant extra rights, but neither do they strip people of basic rights.
We have a fundamental difference in understanding of what is accurately described as self-defense or appropriate (non-initiatory) violence in the context of Mr. Cantwell’s article. In our view, self-defense (or defense of another) constitutes using deadly force upon the police only if they were initiating deadly force on a victim at the moment. Justified violence might be (and some may disagree) among the following:
Using a reasonable amount of violence to obtain the money those particular cops stole from a specific victim(s)
Using a reasonable amount of violence to obtain compensation for a specific victim(s) injured by those specific officers
At the very worst, if there was evidence those particular officers murdered someone, some advocates of the non-aggression principle might find (and many would disagree) that it is acceptable for a family member or private defense agency to exact some kind of forceful punishment.
These are the principles we believe to be applicable to all human beings, police officers included. With reference to the Las Vegas killings, in the absence of any evidence that those cops murdered anyone, killing them while they were eating lunch fits neither within the definition of self-defense, defense of another, or justified violence. It is thus murder. If Mr. Cantwell’s premise is to be accepted, then it follows that it is morally correct for random people (non-victims) to murder any criminal who has initiated violence, no matter how petty the offense. This is simply absurd.
Mr. Cantwell’s claim that anyone is entitled to kill cops at any time, because cops are constantly initiating aggression, is merely an ugly form of collectivism. This claim is essentially that because some cops commit murder, and many of them steal, all cops deserve to be ambushed and randomly executed, regardless of individual actions. This is no different from gang enhancement penalties, wherein people are punished excessively for crimes that otherwise should bear lesser penalties, on the sole basis that they are member of a gang. This is no different from saying that violence is acceptable if enforced for the “greater good.” If the non-aggression principle does not allow for street-style execution of people who have committed theft, it certainly doesn’t allow for street-style execution of cops who have been proven guilty of nothing.
It is also worthwhile to note there are different levels of aggression. Yes, there are cops that have committed murder, rape, and/or abuse. There are plenty that have not nearly committed anything rising to those levels. There are police officers who do very little aside from conduct traffic. There are police officers who spend most of their time at a desk. Even if we assume that all police officers commit some kind of theft through traffic tickets, the appropriate and proportionate punishment for theft is not death. It is a dangerous error to claim that it is justified to kill all police officers on the grounds set forth by Mr. Cantwell.
Calling for the blanket death of all cops is not the appropriate response to whatever unknown/unproven aggressions one particular cop may or may not have committed. Central to creating a reality absent the institutionalized violence of the police state is the recognition of individual rights, individual responsibilities, and individual accountability based on specific individual actions and consequences. It is not about probabilities, possibilities, or likelihoods based on one’s profession/membership in a group/gang and what one has likely done and/or will do. That’s called statism.
In sum, it is a violation of the non-aggression principle to indiscriminately condone killing any particular group of people with no regard to individual actions. In application to Cop Block’s mission, we are are certainly a diverse group of people with a wide range of opinions. However, most of us agree with the above-stated conception of the non-aggression principle. We also seek to avoid inflammatory calls for violence, although we fully embrace the right of self-defense and realize that it is necessary and justified.
Yesterday I posted an article to the Cop Block Facebook page that was very anti military. I later removed the post due to overwhelmingly negative feedback from users. It was after all, sort of off topic for Cop Block. Still, it would seem that even those among us who have figured out that police are nothing but the violent malicious enforcers of the politicians, seem to hold a soft spot for the military.
If I had a dime for every time some slave told me, “Soldiers protect your right to say that,” I’d be independently wealthy by now. It would far exceed my adsense revenues. These sort of comments come rolling in any time you say something about the military, as if Afghanistan and Iraq were actually some threat to what I post on the Internet. Far from it, the only threat to my freedom in the United States is the United States government, and the only thing keeping the United States government in power is it’s enforcers.
Think about it folks; if you read this blog on any sort of regular basis, if you read Cop Block, you know that government, all government, is tyranny. The best case scenario for any government is to be a tolerable annoyance, and I certainly find nothing tolerable about government violence in the United States. The Cop Block website and facebook page is a constant 24/7/365 stream of police abuse, kidnapping, theft, assault, and murder, and that’s primarily just for pointing out when they exceed the “limits of the law.”
The fact of the matter is, police do so much more horrific violence within those limits than outside of them, and almost none of it is captured on camera. Every traffic stop is a death threat, and there are more than 17 million of those each year in the US. Every arrest is a kidnapping, and there are more than 12 million of those each year in the US. Almost none of these involve any victim other than the person the officer is threatening, and of course everyone is threatened by taxation, which is how police are paid. So everybody is threatened by police, whether they ever come into contact with law enforcement or not. There is no such thing as a good cop.
Once you understand that, it should not be a far leap to understand that the military is no better.
Police tell us they are keeping us safe by stealing our money through taxes, by threatening us on the highway, by putting us in prison for possessing drugs, by showing up at a crime scene half an hour after the crime took place. This is such complete and utter nonsense I shouldn’t even have to address it. We know that government lies to us about our victimizers keeping us safe.
Police And Military Same Difference
The same oppressors tell us the military is keeping us safe from foreign governments, and from terrorism. Anybody who has bothered to turn off their television for an hour a day can tell you this is just as ridiculous. There is no threat to the United States, but that which the United States creates. The constant interference in foreign affairs is what draws the ire of foreign governments and terrorist organizations to us.
They don’t “hate us for our freedom” and if that were the case they would go to any one of a dozen countries on Earth that has more freedom than the US. The top six nations on the Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom index are Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Canada. None of these nations are major players in the military business, they tend to mind their own business, and have a lot more freedom than we do in the United States. The United States doesn’t even make the top 45 nations on Earth for press freedom, yet it spends more on it’s military than all the top 45 nations combined. We can see very plainly here that militarism has a very negative effect on freedom. Hell the only charts the US tops anymore are per capita incarceration, and military spending. If anybody was protecting your freedom, it would stand to reason from these stats alone, that they are doing an absolutely terrible job.
If all these other countries wanted to take our resources, then why wouldn’t they attack one of the other top ten most resource rich nations on Earth? Why don’t those countries find themselves in perpetual warfare? Why aren’t they 41% of the world’s military spending? Simple. They aren’t interested in provoking foreign conflicts like the United States.
“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” ~ James Madison
Troops do not defend freedom, troops follow orders. To understand that, maybe we should address what freedom is.
Freedom is not something provided to you by a government. Freedom is a distinct lack of something, more specifically violence and coercion. Now, for certain you can lose your freedom by being held captive by some private party. You could be enslaved and kept in a dungeon somewhere by some deranged sociopath. However, when we talk about how free a people are, the common parlance is discussing government. In this context, freedom is a distinct lack of government interference in your life. It is taken away by laws, and taxes, and regulations, and really any government activity that is not explicitly there to repel some other threat.
In order to take away your freedom, it helps if most of your neighbors consent to the invasion on your life. When government wants to control more of your life, they make up insane stories about how there is some threat to us all, and how the only way to repel this threat is to search your vehicle, steal your money, and put you in a cage. Making up lies about foreign threats is part of the same exact business. When they tell us “Islamofascists” are going to take over America and institute Sharia Law, this is just plain ridiculous, it has absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever. It should be taken no more seriously than Reefer Madness and the war on drugs. But just like Reefer Madness and the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism is touted by TV propagandists, and despite 13 years of repetitive nonsense propaganda being disproven by rational outlets, people still take it seriously.
When these soldiers sign up and go to these foreign countries, are they keeping you safe? Are they protecting your freedom? No! Absolutely not. There is no threat to you over there, they are just acting as world police. Just like the cops abuse, kidnap, rob, assault, and murder us here at home, soldiers go into foreign countries and inflict similar injuries on a foreign people, and with far fewer restrictions on their behavior. They kill and destroy and kidnap and pillage for the singular purpose of expanding the influence of the same government that is oppressing you at home.
They might have signed up with noble intentions, they might have thought they were doing a good thing at first, but so did your local cop. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and frankly, once you begin doing terrible things, you lose your claim to noble intentions. You can’t kick down the doors of complete strangers and drag them out of their homes and kidnap or murder them, just because someone else told you to, and still say you’re being a good person. That’s not how morality works, and geography is no excuse.
So if they’re not keeping you safe, if they’re not protecting your freedom, what possible reason could they be doing all these terrible things for? For the same reason as your local police – for money, and for power, and for respect. They will do absolutely anything they are told to keep their jobs. When asked directly, most marines said they would fire on American citizens if they were ordered to during a federally ordered gun confiscation. We’ve already seen National Guard disarming people after Hurricane Katrina, and saying they would shoot Americans. We’ve already seen martial law in Boston.
Little by little, the tactics and equipment of the police and military are becoming indistinguishable. Why does Concord, NH need an armored personnel carrier? Well, because Free Staters are terrorists, of course, and they have to fight a war on terrorism, just like the military does. There’s no crime in Concord, NH; this is a weapon of war. Where do they get these weapons of war? Well, from the Federal Government, of course. From the same manufacturers as are making them for the military. Who trains them on how to use these weapons? The military, of course.
Then, many of these police already have military training, because they became police after being in the military. When one is trained for combat instead of a trade, there’s little else they are suited to do besides harass, assault, rob, kidnap, and murder people. This makes the military a prime recruiting ground for police departments. Take this quote from military.com: “Former military personnel hold a special place in the heart of police department recruiters across the U.S. The qualities of a great police officer are virtually identical to those of a great soldier.” Military service even credits towards retirement in most law enforcement agencies surveyed, a very strong incentive for making that transition. There are no solid statistics readily available on what percentage of law enforcement has military experience, but based on variousforum posts, the numbers can range anywhere between 10-70% of a department.
To summarize, let’s take a look.
Police: Rob, assault, kidnap, and murder you in the name of “law” here at home. They are paid through taxation (theft). They are increasingly becoming more militarized, taking their weapons, manpower, and training from military forces.
Soldiers: Rob, assault, kidnap, and murder foreigners in the name of “orders” abroad. They are paid through taxation (theft). They are feeding weapons and training to police to make them more militarized. They often become law enforcement officers after leaving the military.
Neither protects your freedom, otherwise you would have freedom. There would be no gun control, PRISM, checkpoints, war on drugs, high taxes, or burdensome business regulations if they did. They follow orders, and their orders are to take freedom, not protect it. If their orders are to disarm you, you get disarmed. If their orders are to kidnap you, you get kidnapped. If their orders are to kill you, you die. In that light, it seems rather ridiculous to put either of these professions up on a pedestal, especially if you already figured out that one of them is your enemy.
This post was submitted by Josie “The Outlaw.” Check out her website, “JosietheOutlaw.com.”
We now live in a world where it is legal for police officers to murder not only animals, but innocent people, use the threat of force to coerce peaceful people into submission, and not only avoid punishment, but are ENCOURAGED to act this way. We live in a police state, and before we figure out how to fix it, we have to understand how this situation came to be. It’s easy to focus our anger only on the ones actually committing the violence, but cops didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start violently oppressing people. Injustice flows from the top down. What we’re seeing today is largely the result of the politicians WANTING the people living in fear of the police, WANTING the police brutality which causes so many people to quietly obey whatever arbitrary, oppressive legislation the politicians decide to enact. So while we should definitely be condemning those who blindly follow orders, the ones giving the orders shouldn’t be let off the hook either, and most of us know this, which is why a lot of people, in an effort to fight against tyranny and government abuses, focus on the political process, on voting, campaigning and petitioning. This approach basically amounts to begging the government for freedom, which to me has two major flaws: first, it has a completely horrible track record of ever achieving freedom, and second, it pretty much tells the politicians that we accept that we can only be free if and when they tell us we’re allowed to. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need legislation to tell me exactly how free I am.
Now a lot of people ask what the alternative is, how, besides voting and petitioning can we prevent or stop tyranny? After centuries of one society after another voting themselves further into oppression, what we’re left with, our power, is resistance and disobedience. This can come in many forms – some people quietly find ways to circumvent or avoid the powers that be and their laws; some practice civil disobedience, and some forcibly resist. However, a lot of people can’t bring themselves to disobey at all, even quietly and passively, because they’ve been thoroughly convinced that, while it’s okay to ASK the politicians to change their laws, it’s never okay to disobey them, no matter how immoral and unjust. Unfortunately, a lot of the people who will never disobey a command happen to be walking around in a blue uniform with a shiny badge and false sense of authority.
Police like to pretend that their job is to “protect and serve.” It isn’t. Their job is to forcibly control the rest of us in whatever way the politicians tell them to. The politicians make up commands, call them laws, and their hired guns–”law ENFORCERS”–hurt any who disobey. Police know this, which is why you will often hear them say things like, “I don’t make the law, I only enforce it,” with the implication being that they aren’t to blame, because they’re just following orders and doing as they’re told. But that excuse was invalid when the Nazis used it, and it’s invalid today. It’s also completely cowardly to deny responsibility for your OWN actions, just because someone else told you to do something. How do you suppose the police would respond to some common thief saying, “Don’t blame me for mugging this old lady; someone else told me to?” They would respond exactly how we should respond to it when they use the excuse: You are responsible for what YOU do.
Now, some people make a distinction between police violence that is legal and police violence that is illegal. If you ask me, that distinction is meaningless. If you violently assault someone who hasn’t threatened or harmed anyone else, that is immoral, regardless of whether the politicians wrote a law telling you to do that or not. Legislation does not determine what is right or wrong. If you use force only to defend against aggressors, that is perfectly legitimate and noble. But if you initiate violence, attacking someone else who wasn’t threatening or harming anyone, then you are the bad guy, whether you have a badge or not and whether some “law” told you to or not. So when it comes to police abuse, I don’t care whether it’s politician-approved violence or “illegal” violence. Either way, it’s wrong, and it’s up to ALL OF US to stop it.
But how do we do that?
Police are human beings, and whenever we can, we should begin by appealing to their reason and morality, by trying to persuade them to do the right thing, including disobeying immoral orders. However, such appeals only work on people who still have the ability to reason and to judge right from wrong. Unfortunately, a whole lot of people in “law enforcement” don’t fit that description. I don’t know what those shiny badges they wear are made of, but sometimes it definitely seems like wearing a badge causes a type of brain damage, making a person incapable of judging right from wrong, incapable of thinking for himself, and giving him a twisted, backwards view of reality.
Of course, not every cop is the same, and they shouldn’t all be treated the same. When we approach someone in uniform or they approach us, we don’t have to start by being defensive and angry. If they can be calm, polite, considerate and rational, we should also be calm, polite, considerate and rational. I’ll be the first to admit, that’s not always how I’ve approached police. I consider their job to be inherently immoral, and I’ve done my share of screaming at them, which I now view as less than effective in most cases.
While not every cop is the same, and some are less violent than others, I would think of a GOOD cop as one who would stop a BAD cop when he sees him doing something wrong…and that rarely, if ever, happens. This is not to say that all cops are inherently evil, but as a whole they very much seem to think and act like any other street gang. In the event that a police officer with a conscience tries to stop or speaks out against violence or injustice perpetrated by his fellow officers, he is said to have “broken the blue code,” and will usually be condemned, ostracized, threatened and intimidated. If he isn’t terminated outright for doing the right thing, he will usually be bullied into resigning. In other words, the system as it now stands, instead of weeding out the bad cops, weeds out the good ones.
This reinforcing of bad behavior comes not just from other individual officers, but from police unions, and the official policies of entire police departments. For example, the Dallas police department just issued a policy allowing cops involved in shootings–as shooters or witnesses–to say nothing about what happened for 72 hours, giving them time to review any available video or other evidence before saying anything. The purpose of this policy seems pretty clear: to make it so that cops don’t get caught blatantly lying, in reports and under oath about such incidents, as has occurred over and over again in the past. Obviously, the agenda here is not to get to the truth and expose the truth, but to cover it up.
When the truth can’t be covered up, police departments will still usually make excuses for misconduct. Rarely does an officer face any retribution, even for committing violent, criminal acts. Often they even get REWARDED. When you hear that an officer has been suspended with pay, what that actually means is that he was given a paid vacation for his actions. If that doesn’t reinforce bad behavior, I don’t know what does. The average cop knows that, nine times out of ten, whatever he does he will receive unconditional support from his peers and superiors. The resulting “us versus them” mentality among cops has been getting worse and worse in recent years, to the point now where many police departments are essentially telling the public, “we not only view police abuse as acceptable, we encourage it.” Then they wonder why so many people now hate cops.
So whenever you’re dealing with the police, make sure you know what consequences to expect. Dealing with police can be like dealing with wild animals: sometimes you might want to talk softly and move slowly just out of self-preservation. If you go in yelling, with arms waving, you may very well get viciously attacked. Then again, the creature known as “law enforcer” can be very unpredictable, and even if unprovoked, might decide to tase you, cage you, or kill you. This is more true now than ever, with the police state growing as it has been, and the politician’s hired guns becoming more and more hostile and violent.
But there’s an important distinction to be made here. On the one hand, we should remain calm and polite, unless THEY make things confrontational and violent. On the other hand, it would be a huge mistake to act as if their misconduct is okay with us. Often, remaining civil is a good idea, whether it’s because you’re trying to win them over with logic and compassion, or just because you’re trying to avoid being assaulted. But we should never talk or act as if we think those shiny badges give them special authority and extra rights.
In most cases, if they are doing something immoral, we can peacefully point out to them that they are the bad guys, that we don’t view their actions as legitimate; that we don’t view them as protectors, but as aggressors. It may be uncomfortable, even scary to do this, but it is important that we make it uncomfortable for them to mindlessly follow orders. Don’t try to win them over by pretending that what they do is legitimate or just, or by condoning or making excuses for their actions. Our end goal is peaceful coexistence, an end of violent aggression, but if you’re so eager to get along that you will excuse and tolerate oppression, you aren’t helping peace or justice, you’re just reinforcing the idea in THEIR minds that they’re supposed to treat you that way.
There are a lot of practical suggestions about things to do or not do whenever you come face to face with someone with a badge. Most of you know most of these already, but it can be difficult to keep them in mind when you’re under duress or being physically assaulted. Things like: don’t ever consent to questioning or searches, always record the actions of the police, get their badge numbers and names, call attention to what they are doing to try to get as many witnesses as possible–and witnesses with cameras are obviously especially valuable.
But then there is the more uncomfortable question. When things get really bad, if those wearing badges are brutally assaulting someone, or are about to kill someone, when do you stop talking, and actually intervene? And yes, I mean by force if necessary; I mean doing whatever it takes to stop the aggressors with badges from harming innocent people. When do you put down the camera, and break out the fists? Or the guns? I know it’s an uncomfortable topic, and I don’t presume to tell anyone else what their answer should be, or where they should draw that line. But think of it this way: if a group of people–uniformed or not–were in the process of beating you to death, while a couple dozen others were watching, what would YOU want the spectators to do for YOU? Whatever it is, do that. The bottom line is, unless the police know we HAVE such a line, they will assume they can get away with absolutely anything, including outright murder.
When watching yet another example of police brutality, whether on YouTube or right in front of your face, it’s easy to think of THAT as the problem. In reality, each individual case of police abuse is merely a symptom of a larger problem. Whatever injustice happens in front of you, or happens to be caught on tape, know that thousands of cops are doing worse and getting away with it. Yes, sometimes we have to treat the symptom, especially if someone’s life depends upon it. But treating the symptoms won’t fix the problem until we identify and defeat the underlying disease, which is authoritarianism.
When it comes to the symptoms, there are many ways to create deterrence, whether it’s by appealing to a cop’s conscience, or shaming him, or even scaring him away. Sometimes mere words can accomplish it; sometimes injustice can only be stopped by using opposite and equal force to stop the aggression of the agents of the state. But the ultimate solution is to end the mentality and philosophy which makes those symptoms happen in the first place. The idea that legislation, and badges and uniforms, actually grant special authority and special rights to certain people, making it okay for them to forcibly control, extort, assault and cage others who have harmed no one, that is the lie that has to go. And right now, not only do those in law enforcement believe that lie, but most of their victims, and most of the general public, believe that lie as well. Until we can destroy that lie, and help people to realize that we each own ourselves and that no one has the right to rule another, expect the symptoms to keep getting worse. As long as the people think we NEED to be dominated and controlled by government, we will be. But when the people finally figure out that society should be free, with no masters and no slaves, that is what we will have.
A quick message to the people who wear the badges: You’ve probably noticed that more and more people distrust, fear, and hate the police. Have you ever asked yourself why that is? Has the whole world turned into malicious criminals, who just can’t stand you dishing out righteous justice? Or are YOU doing things which are giving more and more people good reason to resent and despise you? If someone was talking about having to forcibly defend themselves against ME, I would at least wonder if I was doing something to deserve that. Do you hear people talking about forcibly resisting plumbers, or mechanics? I don’t. Why is that? If you’re only here to protect people, and to perform a service, why do you suppose more and more people are arming themselves – mentally and physically – for a possible violent confrontation with you? You CAN choose not to do something that makes so many people hate you. Good people won’t need to forcibly resist you if you choose not to inflict injustice on them in the first place. And saying it’s your “job” doesn’t make it okay, and won’t make your victims or their families any more happy about it. The fastest, most peaceful way for oppression to end is for agents of the state to refuse to commit it. If you don’t want people to call you a fascist, don’t BE a fascist.
Two months ago, on March 5th, I was struck by a hit and run driver while walking in downtown Las Vegas. Anybody that’s familiar with Las Vegas traffic knows that in itself isn’t exactly an unusual event. However, a string of incredibly oddly timed and interconnected events surrounding my own incident, including another local activist being hit by a car the previous day, have made many within the local activist community wonder if there wasn’t more to it than just a random car “accident.” In fact, some have even classified it as an assassination attempt by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Personally, I’m putting this out there because I feel that it’s important that people know about it and that there be a public record of it. Because of my injuries, which included a broken back, and the medication that I was taking for those injuries, it did take me a while to get this written, but once again, I think it is important to get this on the record. Not unlike other issues involving Cop Block related activities, when those activities make you a target, visibility and transparency are important not just to ensure accountability but to provide protection for those involved. I really don’t want to see any other “coincidences” happen to any of my friends or other activists within the Las Vegas area and making it public makes it difficult for it to happen again without people connecting the dots.
This account is rather long, but I don’t think I could have condensed it much more and still shown all the various connections and commonalities between the incidents of the week in question and the past two years that establish the possible motives and “likely suspects.” To make things a a little easier to follow, I did create a timeline that lays out most of those connections in a visual manner, which you can find a thumbnail to below.
A Timeline of Events Surrounding the Week of Oddly Timed “Coincidences”
Click for a larger, more readable version
That week actually consisted of four separate incidents involving members or associates of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective (a local activist group that several members of NV Cop Block also belong to). All four of those involved members with ties to anti-police brutality activism, in general, and protests using chalk, in particular. That detail is fairly significant because last August the LVMPD dedicated an entire task force and two months of their time to investigate, charge, and arrest four people (the “Sunset 4“), including myself, for conducting chalk protests relating to police killings in the Las Vegas area and the lack of accountability for questionable shootings or even several that amount to outright murder.
When the cops in Las Vegas kill people their ONLY “punishment” is paid leave.
The first of these incidents, on March 4th, 2014, was when one of the “Sunset 4” arrestees was stopped by Metro police for the rather arbitrary reasoning of supposedly following the car in front of her too closely. To further complicate this incident, just prior to the stop, she had dropped off Ballentine, who had also been among those of us arrested in August of 2013, prior to being stopped.
During the stop, the cops brought up the fact that she had been arrested for chalking and questioned her about her involvement in protesting. At the time, it was considered harassing, but because it was the first incident, it was assumed that they had just noticed the arrest on her record and wasn’t widely believed to be a targeted act.
Later that same evening, the second incident took place, this time involving local activist Jen Harney, who had organized a widely publicized protest shortly after the chalking arrests. Similar to my own incident, while crossing the street downtown she was hit by a car. Later, it was determined that the person driving the car she was hit by was not only an ex-cop, but that he currently works for a company that sells weapons and equipment to police departments.
The very next night, on March 5th, I was walking to the bank down Charleston near Las Vegas Blvd. As I (legally) crossed 8th street, a car made a right turn off of Charleston, ran into me, and kept going. During the collision, I suffered a concussion, and as is often the case in accidents, I don’t remember much beyond the initial point where I saw the car was going to hit me. However, I do have some hazy memories of afterwards and I’m pretty certain that the car didn’t make any effort to stop at all.
Finally, the last incident happened two days later on March 7th, 2014, during a “First Friday” art festival, which is held every month in downtown Las Vegas. Once again, this involved Jen, who was holding the official grand opening for a gallery and art supply store she owns. Late in the evening, a group of uniformed LVMPD officers came to the store.
While there, they displayed no actual interest in shopping, but instead stood together outside looking through the window. Soon after, they approached the doorway and again just stood watching as Jen’s partner, who is not particularly involved in activism, spoke to some customers. She asked them if there was anything she could help them with and subsequently asked them if they would like her to give them a tour of the gallery. They refused both those requests and continued for some time behaving in a way that made her feel very “freaked out” and intimidated, in general.
Metro Doesn’t Like When People Bring Attention to All Those Murders
As previously stated, taken separately none these incidents are particularly unusual in Las Vegas. Even those clearly involving intimidation and harassment are pretty standard behavior for Las Vegas area police departments. While it gets a little more suspicious, even the two incidents involving people being run down by cars within less than 24 hours could conceivably just be wild coincidences. However, taken as a whole and factoring in all the common connections paints these as a rather unlikely and most oddly timed set of “coincidences.”
First of all, as has already been pointed out, all four of the incidents involved someone with both a connection to anti-police brutality protests and the previous chalking arrests. Secondly, three of those four incidents involved obvious, direct, and provable connections to the police and even to the LVMPD. The lone exception to that is the hit and run against me, in which the driver has not been identified. Thirdly, the limited time frame itself casts suspicion on the randomness of these events. All four of these incidents happened within a 96 hour period and three of the four took place within 24 hours of each other.
Expanding beyond that, there are even more common connections than those simple, obvious ones. On February 14th, 2014 officers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) abused and subsequently murdered a man after cyclists called 911 to report that he was attempting to flag people down and appeared to be in need of assistance by Red Rock Canyon, just north of Las Vegas, and instead of offering that assistance they sent police to arrest him. In response, members of Nevada Cop Block conducted a protest involving chalking at the headquarters of the Nevada Highway Patrol, which had also had an employee present at the shooting, a few days later.
This particular protest took place roughly two weeks prior to the beginning of the four incidents. In addition, an undercover police officer in an unmarked vehicle was parked across from the NHP headquarters when those taking apart arrived, even though it hadn’t been announced publicly until about thirty minutes before it was scheduled to take place. This clearly shows that the police are still closely monitoring (the justification for those earlier illegal arrests involved surveillance by the LVMPD, both online and in person, which was detailed in the arrest reports) the activities of NVCB and the Sunset Activist Collective.
Yet another “coincidence” is that these incidents all took place during the week prior to the second Saturday of the month. This is significant because “Second Saturdays” are the days on which the regular monthly anti-police brutality protests that lead to the arrests for writing things the cops didn’t like with chalk are typically held. And a protest at the headquarters of the BLM was in fact scheduled for that day, although it was postponed by one day (see below) due to the four incidents that week.
The Motives and Previous Examples of Retaliation
Arrested for drawing with Chalk
There are no shortage of clear motives for Las Vegas police to go after members of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective. Members, both individually and as a group, have a long history of being very active within local grassroots organizations. This has often involved acts of civil disobedience and many times has involved direct criticism of the police and their historical lack of accountability. After the murder of Stanley Gibson in December of 2011, a regular, sustained pattern of such protests began.
Metro showed their willingness to engage in retaliation and intimidation against those who would dare to criticize them and their policies by engaging in a targeted and concerted effort to justify arresting us on trumped up charges. Not only did they attempt to characterize drawing with chalk as a graffiti crime, but they also threw in the old standby for “stacking” charges of conspiring to commit the non-crime. In order to do so, they created an actual task force dedicated to investigating, charging, and arresting some people writing stuff with chalk. Also, as detailed in the police arrest reports, they engaged in surveillance of those they wished to arrest. This included monitoring of online and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc), as well as actual, physical surveillance.
Additionally, even the bogus graffiti charges only allowed for a citation to be issued, which the city had already refused to prosecute, unless the “damage” caused amounted to more than $250. So, in order to arrest the “Sunset 4″ they had to convince the county District Attorney to actually prosecute it and they had to inflate the clean-up costs for something that throwing a little water on would remove. All of that (once again) was for some people writing stuff with chalk on sidewalks.
Not surprisingly, there was a rather large uproar within the community once the ridiculousness of the charges and the outrageous $1550 clean up bill was made public. This led to the charges being dropped shortly after and was yet another in a long string of embarrassing incidents that would eventually lead to Clark County Sheriff Gillespie announcing that he would not be running for office again in the upcoming election. The story also got picked up by the AP and received national press coverage, which had the inverse effect of shining a bright light on all the questionable killings and complete lack of accountability toward them that we had been protesting in the first place and which they were trying to intimidate us into not bringing attention to.
The LVMPD doesn’t limit themselves to retaliating against and harassing everyday citizens, either. It was recently reported by a former Metro captain that the top brass within the LVMPD held an internal meeting to coordinate an effort to dig up dirt on Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak. The reason that they wanted to do so was in order to discredit him after he opposed a proposal to raise Las Vegas area sales taxes to finance the hiring of additional cops (more on that later).
Why Would They Come After Me Specifically?
Pointing at Gillespie
This is something that people not familiar with local police issues and the people involved in those issues might ask. One of the more obvious reasons why I would be chosen is a simple matter of convenience. I’m pretty well known around town for being an avid bike rider and prior to being injured I rode on the average about three hundred miles a week between commuting and recreational group rides. So, if you were going to pick someone to target with a car “accident,” picking the guy who’s on a bike in traffic at least two or three hours every day is a pretty easy choice to make.
During the arrest that has already been discussed there were several indicators that things soon became personal toward me for the cops, as well. Not only were several references made to Cop Block or “that Cop Block guy” by people during our booking, but I personally overheard a phone call (once again during booking) in which one of the members of the task force they created to arrest us stated “we got Kelly.” The fact that he mentioned me by name shows that there was some effort to target me personally. (I was actually rather pleased that they displayed such an awareness of Cop Block, since I think it’s important that they know we’re watching them and it showed that we were doing an effective job.)
This continued for about nine months before police first tried to intimidate us by issuing us citations for writing on sidewalks with chalk that is specifically sold for the purpose of writing on sidewalks. While those bogus tickets were never even filed, they set into motion the chain of events that led to the even more bogus arrests about two months later. That in turn led to even more embarrassment for Metro after public outrage at the ridiculousness of the charges and inflated clean up costs required to justify them led to those charges being quickly dropped.
Shortly after that, Sheriff Gillespie announced amidst an almost constant barrage of scandals involving the LVMPD that he would no longer be seeking reelection for the next term, but that he would instead be putting his full efforts into passing the “More Cops” tax, which would increase the county sales taxes in order to fund the hiring of additional cops, and that getting it passed would be considered his legacy as sheriff.
Also by chance, during the public comments for the final vote a few months later, when the tax was ultimately defeated (until the next sheriff gets into office and brings it back), I actually ended up at the podium at the same time Chris Collins, head of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association – the police union – and was able to reference a previous comment he had made that all the money being wasted and all the people being wrongfully killed “had nothing to do” with the More Cops tax.
That’d be great Metro
Those two instances of public defiance of the two biggest mob bosses in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, along with the ongoing protests and the public embarrassment caused by their previous attempts to bully us into stopping with citations and arrests, would by themselves be enough motive for someone to want to send a message to members of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective and to want to personally retaliate and try to intimidate me. As was shown by their plan to discredit Clark County Commission Chairman Sisolak, the defeat of the tax increase that was so coveted was enough to make them want to strike back at those involved in opposing it.
Furthermore, their attempts to have us arrested and jailed for four years (contrary to the single year that was widely reported, we actually potentially faced one year for each of the four charges against us) for drawing on a side walk with something that would take a couple minutes to clean up with some water and a broom (and in fact didn’t need to be cleaned up unless someone didn’t want people reading the things written about them), shows their vindictiveness toward us.
Even with all of those reasons to potentially want to go after NVCopBlock in general and myself in particular, it might still seem a bit farfetched that they would actually try to assassinate me with a car. In fact, I hadn’t been on the look for that sort of tactic and wasn’t entirely convinced it was the case until after the “First Friday” incident, simply because it’s so incredibly easy for Las Vegas area police to get away with murder that I always figured if they wanted to come after us they would just shoot at us.
This Offer Still Stands
However, within the past few days a story surfaced in which a Muslim that the FBI was trying to pressure into becoming an informant actually recorded a federal agent warning him that he “might get hit by a car.” So it’s not exactly a foriegn concept to them.
For decades, law enforcement agencies have employed “COINTELPRO” type programs to intimidate, falsely imprison, disrupt, and even kill activists and members of activist groups. On a federal level, the FBI used such tactics against MLK, Malcolm X, Jerry Rubin, Fred Hampton (who was drugged by a police informant and then murdered by Chicago police in his sleep), and even Albert Einstein, based primarily on their political activities and perceived threat to the power that those in authority at the time held. On a side note, while I don’t actually suspect that the Feds were involved in our incidents, someone self-identifying as a member of military intelligence did show up to our chalking actions at the Regional Injustice Center, one of the actions for which we were later arrested.
The “Aftermath” – AKA: Did It Work?
Not Gonna Stop
If that question is taken literally, then it did almost work. As a result of the hit and run, I suffered a pretty severe concussion, a very badly bruised shoulder, and worst of all a compression fracture to my spine (which necessitated the ridiculously uncomfortable brace in the picture at the top of this article that I had to wear nonstop, including while sleeping, for an entire week). While I’m much better and at this point it’s just a matter of some residual pain, I am still recovering from that broken back two months later. I’m also quite certain that had I been hit even a fraction of a second earlier and been more to the center of the car, rather than toward the right corner, I probably would have been killed rather than injured.
However, since I wasn’t killed, the answer is an unequivocal no. If anything it makes me more determined to expose them for the criminals they truly are. Not only did they not intimidate me into stopping, the “Second Saturday” protest that we had scheduled to bring attention to D’Andre Berghardt Jr., the person the BLM murdered out by Red Rock Canyon in February, 2014, went on as planned with just a one day postponement to Sunday. Personally, I think that the fact they felt they needed to take me out just shows that what we’ve been doing is working and getting to them. Plus, I think we owe it to the people that have been murdered in the past without any justice or accountability to keep at it.
Although, both the arrests and the recent incidents have actually caused some of the people who originally came to our demonstrations to back off, the LVMPD and other Las Vegas area police departments can count on the fact that I won’t be going away anytime soon and nothing they do will ever be enough to intimidate or scare me away from demanding true accountability from them.
Support NVCopBlock – Because We Always Support You
Additionally, the entire shop has been updated to accommodate the T-shirts and other new items that will be added soon. One of the new features is the ability to use Bitcoin and other “crypto” currencies within the shopping cart, if you’re into alternate currencies. (You can still donate directly to our Bitcoin wallet, also: 1JaQEAyPS71GW2JPPCMqMN53mTGMjVqctT).
Another really cool new feature with the new shop is that it has the option to sign up as an affiliate. What that means is that you can obtain a personalized referral link to share on your own website, Facebook, Twitter, or pretty much anywhere else you can post links. Whenever someone using that link purchases something on NVCopBlock.org, the person assigned to that link will receive 10% of any amount spent. So you can actually make a little money yourself by referring people.
Support Cop Block in Nevada and Get Some Cool Stuff in Return
Josh H shared this post via CopBlock.org’s submit page.
Date of Interaction: April 26, 2014
Police Employees Involved: Trooper Elliot #665, Trooper Cerney # 680
Police Employee Contact Information: Troop Commander–Captain Mike Gaudreault 4500 Avenue I P.O. Box 1500 Scottsbluff, NE 69363 Phone: 308-632-1211 Email: email@example.com
I was arrested for obstruction at a NSP checkpoint in Scottsbluff, NE.
This video is what I was able to record up until my phone was taken from my hand by a Nebraska State trooper.
I was traveling with my girlfriend and 2.5 month old son. As you can see, it was a license and registration checkpoint. I had all of my information ready to hand to the officer. It is all accurate and up to date and valid. From there I would assume that would be the end of the stop. Why the trooper would go to the passenger side of the car or why I would be asked to go to secondary is beyond me.
What happened after the video is I was handcuffed and made to sit on the side of the road. They couldn’t tell my why they were detaining me. They called a tow truck to move my car one block north and charged me $75 to do so. I was then arrested for obstructing an officer and taken to jail where I was made to post a $1,000 bail. My girlfriend was also charged with obstructing but was only given a ticket.
I’m obviously going to be fighting this charge and am in the process of finding a lawyer.
I’ll update this page as the process moves forward.
Please contact the Nebraska State Patrol to voice your concerns about the harassment of law abiding citizens at these intrusive checkpoints.
Cop Block of WNY (Western New York) is a new local group started up on Saturday, April 26th after videos of police brutality in Buffalo, NY had surfaced. Our goal is to raise awareness to incidents of police brutality and hopes of helping victims find some justice.
On 24 April 2014, this video was uploaded in 2 parts on Facebook showing Buffalo Police using excessive force while apprehending 23 year old John Willet of Buffalo outside a store in the area of Ontario and Philadelphia Streets. It all started on the night of April 19th, when Willet was driving, he noticed a car was following him. Fearing that it may be someone meaning to do him harm, he sped away. The car following him turned out to be undercover police car, which pursued Willet to Ontario and Philadelphia Streets. Willet parked his vehicle, got out and ran across the street where he willingly surrendered. Willet reported that he stood there with his hands in the air when an officer punched him and threw him down to the ground. Shortly after that is where the video begins, you can see that officers kneed and punched Willet while trying to apprehend him. Towards the end, you can see an officer kicking and punching Willet while he was handcuffed and laying face down, pleading for them to stop. Willet was charged with resisting arrest and minor drug possession charges. This video has been sent to Buffalo Police and Mayor Byron Brown. Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda ordered an internal affairs investigation into the incident and all the police officers involved have been suspended for the duration of the investigation. Commissioner Derenda and Mayor Brown both said that they will not tolerate any misconduct or criminal activities involving police officers. We are currently waiting for the result of the internal investigation. Thank you to everyone who shared and spread this video around, it has received the attention of both the local media and some national attention.
I look forward to see folks in the western NY area connect and create networks to support and share skills – such as the importance in filming all police interactions – your own and those who you don’t know. Capture the truth of the situation.
Oh did that say “Preventing”? Editorial mistake. “Committing” is the word we’re looking for here. That should be, “Recent Instances of Police Committing Sexual Assault.” Obviously.
Late last year, San Antonio police officer Jackie Neal was charged with felony sexual assault for handcuffing, groping, then raping a 19-year-old while on duty. He stopped the woman and claimed her car had been reported stolen. He then forced her to the back of his squad car and raped her. (More here).
In another instance late last year, Kim Nguyen, a student at Loyola Marymount University, filed a lawsuit against LAPD, alleging she was sexually assaulted by police officers. Ms. Nguyen was standing on the sidewalk with friends on March 17, after a night of drinking, when accosted by LAPD officers David Shin and Jin Oh. The officers singled Ms. Nguyen out, handcuffed her, placed her in the back of squad car. She testified in deposition that the officers sexually assaulted her.
She ultimately was tossed out of, or fell out of the moving squad car. Ms. Nguyen woke up after a six-day, medically-induced coma. She underwent several jaw surgeries and lost all her teeth. More here, here and here.
The San Jose Mercury News reported in March that Patrolman Geoffrey Graves raped a woman who was staying in a hotel because she had been arguing with her husband. Graves was booked on suspicion of one count of forcible rape. However, he spent no time in custody, as he posted the $100,000 bail. He is currently on paid administrative leave (paid vacation for a rapist who turned himself in). More here and here.
In another instance last month, a Detroit police officer Deon Nunlee was charged with sexually assaulting a woman while responding to a domestic violence call. Upon the reported rape, Nunlee was placed on administrative leave. After results from the rape kit returned, Nunlee was suspended without pay. More here.
In late March, San Diego Police may have fallen short of the legal definition of sexual assault, but nevertheless harassed naked women in a vile and perverted manner. Three officers with bulletproof vests and guns charged a strip club in San Diego, allegedly to ensure strippers were complying with licensing requirements. The officers held dancers against their will for some 3 hours, and photographed them – purportedly in an attempt to check permits. More here and here. Feel safer now?
This is not much of a surprise, considering the data suggesting cops are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than everyone else. While some may be optimist that a couple of these rapists were actually charged with a crime, it would be naive to be too hopeful.