Copwatch Camera Drive For Ferguson Proving To Be A Success

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

WeCopwatch has brought the first purchase of Cameras back to Cantfield neighborhood in Ferguson. Cameras are charging and we’re doing Copwatch and Know Your Rights Trainings.

For those that don’t know.
WeCopwatch has been on the ground in Ferguson for the last week Copwatching and connecting with residents in the Cantfield neighborhood. (the location where Mike Brown was murdered)

The space is autonomous, and has been stepping up as a community to be able to host the large volumes of people who come to pay their respects, and to also have a safe space for those who are grieving.

The police have made this process extremely hard with multiple officer involved shootings through the week and daily tear gassing. In recent days, A State of Emergency has been put in place. Drones are flying in the sky, The neighborgood of Cantfield has been contained by roadblocks and police blockades.

There is a general consensus that more cameras are needed and with daily police attacks, it makes sense to to get them into people’s hands as soon as possible.

We’re in the process of getting a bulk camera order together so that residents in each building in Cantfield Neighborhood have cameras.

Protesting will eventually slow down, but this is the type of mutal aide that is lasting and extremeley effective.

WeCopwatch is collaborating with people on the ground on this copwatch initiative, it is everyone’s hopes that we fundraise over the next couple days and place our orders immediatley thereafter.

Your donation is way to stand in solidarity with people who are under attack by police, and the sooner folks are armed with cameras, the better.

This Fundraiser was called for by community leaders in the Cantfield neighborhood.

Copwatch Camera Drive For Ferguson Proving To Be A Success is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Cop Block is Committed to the Non-Aggression Principle

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Dear Readers,

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 Revolutionsas 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.


  • Pete Eyre, Co-founder
  • Nathan Cox, Virginia Cop Block
  • R0thbard, Tech team, LWA
  • Georgia Sand, Editor/Writer
  • Janel Florez, Co-Founder of MO/KS Cop Block
  • 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.

Cop Block is Committed to the Non-Aggression Principle is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Victory For Scott Olsen

Friday, March 21st, 2014

$4.5 Million Tentative Settlement Reached In Scott Olsen’s Lawsuit for “Less Lethal” Shooting by Oakland Police

The City of Oakland has agreed to pay Scott Olsen $4.5 million to compensate him for devastating brain injuries he suffered when an Oakland Police officer shot him in the head with a “less lethal” munition on October 25, 2011, during a demonstration in support of Occupy Oakland. The lead filled “bean bag” round, fired from a 12 gauge shotgun, shattered Mr. Olsen’s skull and permanently destroyed part of his brain. The settlement in Olsen v. City of Oakland, 3:12-cv-06333, is pending final approval by the Oakland City Council. Mr. Olsen was represented by attorneys Jim Chanin, Rachel Lederman, and Julie Houk.

“After serving two tours of duty as a United States Marine in Iraq, Scott Olsen could never have imagined that he would be shot in the head by an Oakland Police officer while he was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights in support of the budding “Occupy” economic justice movement,” said Rachel Lederman. “Scott was 24 years old when the shooting and ensuing brain damage robbed him of what had been a promising career as a computer network and systems administrator.”

Jim Chanin said, “There was no dispute that Scott Olsen never posed a threat and was protesting peacefully. He was shot because OPD commanders decided to simultaneously use chemical agents to disperse the demonstrators and have officers shoot impact munitions at anyone who might be throwing something — even though this violated their own written policies. The obviously foreseeable result was that the officers shot people who were desperately trying to flee the scene, including Mr. Olsen.”

Screen shot 2014-03-21 at 6.44.50 AM

Mr. Olsen had only been at the demonstration for a matter of minutes before OPD commanders gave the order to use munitions on the assembled crowd. He was shot 18 seconds later. Lederman explained, “The commanders knew the teargas and flashbangs would cause people to panic and run, yet they elected to shoot SIM into the densely packed crowd and it is only a matter of luck that more people weren’t injured as severely as Scott Olsen or killed. If the police had done sufficient planning for the demonstration and followed their own Crowd Control Policy, the use of weapons could have entirely been avoided. After all, no other Bay Area city responded to Occupy with SIM or teargas and no other city has incurred the enormous costs that the people of Oakland have as a result.” “The cost is not only money,” added Olsen. “If people can’t speak out without fear of being shot we don’t really have democracy.”

After being shot, Mr. Olsen lay on the pavement critically injured and bleeding from the head, clearly visible very close to the line of police officers. When concerned protesters ran to his aid, OPD Officer Robert Roche threw a flashbang-like CS Blast grenade into their midst, causing them to scatter. The grenade exploded close enough to Mr. Olsen to burn his shoulder as he lay helpless. Civilians re-approached and persisted in carrying Mr. Olsen to safety, screaming for medical aid – but no law enforcement personnel responded or summoned medical attention even though their own policy requires them to provide medical aid to anyone hit with a SIM.

Screen shot 2014-03-21 at 6.41.47 AM

In an independent investigation commissioned by the City, former Baltimore Police Chief Tom Frazier found that “the fact that no law enforcement officer, supervisor, or commander observed the person falling down or prostrate in the street during the confrontation was unsettling and not believable.”

Mr. Olsen said that he is unable to return to his high tech career. “In the hospital, I had to learn how to talk all over again. Part of my brain isn’t working anymore. It’s not like something I really want to talk about all the time. I relive it every day.“

“This is the same police department that shot longshoremen and protesters with so-called less lethal munitions during a peaceful antiwar picket at the Port of Oakland in 2003,” explained Chanin. “At that time, the City and Police agreed to stop these practices and adopted a model policy for constitutional policing of demonstrations.” “But as soon as they had some more large protests,” said Lederman, “OPD scrapped that agreement and repeated the same mistakes. Scott Olsen’s is the worst of the injuries that resulted from that and I wish I could say it will be the last but that remains to be seen.”

In July, 2013, the Oakland City Council approved a $1,170,000 settlement in a civil rights lawsuit brought by Rachel Lederman, Jim Chanin, and other attorneys on behalf of journalist Scott Campbell and 11 other persons, Campbell et al v. City of Oakland, 3:11-cv-5498. A separate lawsuit, Sabeghi v. City of Oakland, 3:12-cv-6057, was resolved in December, 2013, for $645,000.

As part of the Campbell settlement and a companion $1,025,000 settlement in Spalding v. City of Oakland, 3:11-cv-2867, regarding unlawful mass arrests of protesters, the City and OPD again agreed to abide by the negotiated Crowd Control Policy and gave U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson the power to enforce compliance with the policy for up to seven years.

However, according to Lederman, “OPD has refused to get rid of so-called “less lethal” weapons such as CS Blast grenades and lead shot filled beanbags, and until they do so, it is only a matter of time before we see another tragedy.”

Victory For Scott Olsen is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Cops Detain Man for Suspicion of Smoking Tobacco, Ticket Him for Loitering After They Won’t Let Him Leave

Monday, December 30th, 2013

This post was shared via’s submit page.

A Hispanic man walks up to a bus stop in downtown Salt Lake City (U.T.A.) holding a cell phone and wearing a hoodie and tennis shoes.

Officer Price approaches and asks him if he was smoking a cigarette.

He asks her if it looked like he was smoking, and tells her to leave him alone, he doesn’t like talking to cops.

At this point, the man begins taking video on his cell phone.

She continues harassing the man, asking repeatedly if he is smoking and calling another officer over.

She asks for the man’s ID.

The man asks “Do I need to show ID?”

She answers yes.

To confirm, the man then repeats, “I need to show ID in the state of Utah?”

Officer Price responds with telling him that she asked him if he was smoking and he is refusing to give her an answer, repeating that she needs his ID.

The man asks if this was an investigation to see if he was smoking.

Officer Price responds that she needs to see his ID because he is refusing to answer her question.

The man replies that he will show her an ID if he is being investigated for a crime, and asks if he is being investigated for a crime.

She doesn’t answer his question, and she says to let her see his ID.

She then switches her story up, saying that she saw him smoking a cigarette and he won’t answer her questions.

He asks, “So now you saw me smoking a cigarette?”

She responds that she only asked to see if he would be truthful to her, and now he is not answering her question and saying that he doesn’t want to talk to cops.

He responds with, “Well, no, because look at what you’re doing.”

She asks again for his ID and this time he complies, and hands the woman his ID.

She asks if he had any previous history with U.T.A., saying that it was private property. Then she asks if he was going to answer her original question.

The man refuses to answer the question and asks if he is free to go.

She replies that he is not.

Another officer approaches. Officer Price asks for help, saying that she saw the man smoking and he is refusing to answer her question.

The man finally answers her question, saying that no, he does not have any cigarettes on him and that he has “never smoked in his life” and that Officer Price is just hassling him.

He asks for his ID back and repeats that he wasn’t aware it was private property and that he would be on his way.

She asked if he was going to take a bus or was just waiting for a ride.

He tells her that he will not answer any more questions and asks her to give him his ID back so he could leave.

The man asks if he is being detained and officer Price answers that yes, he is.

He asks what crime he is being detained for

She changes her accusation to a charge of loitering (since they weren’t able to charge the man with smoking) even though the man had just arrived at the station when Officer Price began harassing him.

He asks, “So now I’m loitering?”

She asked if he had a reason to be there and he repeats that he is not answering any more of her questions because the cops are “being assholes.”

He asks for his ID once again so he could be free to go.

She repeats that the man is being detained at the moment.

He asks again, “For what crime?”

She does not reply, and a third officer approaches the scene.

He repeats his question, asking what crime he is being detained for.

He tells the cops that they should be ashamed of themselves, asking if what they were doing was really helping protect the property or was really just harassment of an innocent man.

He repeats that her original accusation was not loitering but smoking.

He says that since he wasn’t smoking, the officer was trying to charge him for something else.

The man approaches the other officers to see if they feel that the situation is unfair and the officers are unfazed.

The officer then hassles the man about talking, saying she can’t hear her radio, and he replies that it is his 1st amendment right to be able to talk if he wants to, that she can move away from him if she can’t hear her radio.

The woman writes the man a ticket for loitering.

Officer Price tells him he needs to remove his vehicle from the property.

She tells him he needs to sign the ticket for loitering, to which he replies that he had been trying to leave since she came over there.

At the end, he accuses them of taking money from people, he wasn’t loitering and they knew it.

He tells her that he got the whole thing on video – Officer Price wanted to get him for something, and since he was innocent of her first accusation, which she also lied about, she quickly changed her charge to loitering even though he had just arrived when she approached him. In the end, Officer Price ticketed an innocent man who simply questioned her rights to be bothering him in the first place.

Cops Detain Man for Suspicion of Smoking Tobacco, Ticket Him for Loitering After They Won’t Let Him Leave is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights


Monday, December 30th, 2013

ACAB – All cops are bastards. Most readers of this site have probably seen that phrase left as a comment online, heard it in conversation, or maybe even uttered it themselves. But is it accurate? I don’t believe so. And in fact, I believe it counterproductive.

Without a doubt, individuals – no matter their attire – are responsible for their actions and should be held accountable if and when they initiate force. But making such a blanket statement – that everyone employed in a particular occupation is a bastard – seems reactionary. True, each police employee, by nature of their job, is guilty of subsisting on stolen coin, but so are teachers and astronauts and millions of others. But have you ever seen someone tag a building with “All Teachers Are Bastards?” I haven’t. (Though I have witnessed folks who on one hand decry all police employees and on the other hand clamor for more funding for their favorite governmental program, which to me is hardly consistent, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

The thing that sets police employees apart from others who subsist on the political means is that they are the enforcers – the teeth of the bad idea called the state. As Albert Jay Nock penned:

The State’s criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal… No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose. Like all predatory or parasitic institutions, its first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and, second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity. For the sake of this it will, and regularly does, commit any crime which circumstances make expedient.

cb-propaganda-contest-bdger-212x265The granting of legitimacy to the idea of police as protectors is is crucial to the continuation of their racket. Since we were young – especially for those of us subjected to a dozen or more years of “education” in gun-run institutions – the extra rights claimed to exist for a person donning a police costume has been peddled as fact. That perspective has been happily parroted and reinforced by corporate media outlets. Of course, just because a claim is made, and made repeatedly, it doesn’t make it true.

Kids are told that the world is dangerous and to not talk to strangers unless that stranger happens to be wearing a badge. Competent adults are told not to look after those in their community but to call the “authorities” (notwithstanding the fact that police have no duty to protect the individual). There has been a massive propaganda campaign to paint police as benevolent and necessary (while becoming more militarized) and to divide us. Especially in post-9/11 Amerika.

Yet, writing off an entire group of strangers based on their occupation isn’t the solution. If police employees are viewed as bastards they’re not then seen as worth conversing with. There is thought to be no hope or chance of redemption. Thus, police employees, who are entrenched in an environment that puts those with badges as the only thing standing between civilization and chaos, have little chance of ever being introduced to ideas that call that paradigm into question. Group think – both for the ACAB crowd, and current thin blue line adherents, is crippling to the thought process. Use of the ACAB label only perpetuates the division both for the person levying the accusation and for the intended recipient.

Consider being in the shoes of a police employee. Your life, career, and friends revolve around the police culture. It’s not easy to walk away from – there’s a lot already invested. It’s a sunk cost. Being told that you’re a bastard likely won’t make you stop to consider deeply, the motivations of the person who levied the statement. In fact, it’ll probably just reinforce the preconceived notions that you already hold.

Yet, high rates of attrition (especially within the first few years), alcoholism and domestic violence, speak to the disconnect and internal struggles that many police employees feel, even if subconsciously, between the idealism of policing and the reality of the day-to-day. It takes a lot of integrity for a person to speak out, especially if they realize those around them – their friends and even their family – may not understand.

Admittedly, in this conversation, one thing has been bastardized – language. This is a key, and rarely addressed component, of today’s police state. In his essay Nature, trancendentalist thinker Ralph Wadlo Emerson wrote:

The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language. When simplicity of character and the sovereignty of ideas is broken up by the prevalence of secondary desires, the desire of riches, of pleasure, of power, and of praise, — and duplicity and falsehood take place of simplicity and truth

When the word used to describe an act, as well as the legality of that act, is contingent on the actor, it reeks of double standards. It’s that artificial paradigm that must be deconstructed. Calling the actors names won’t fix that. Change will happen only after double-standards are recognized and pointed-out to others (both police employees and their supporters).

Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty” – many take this to imply physical resistance. But in fact, isn’t ones’ mental state a necessary precursor to ones’ physical act?

If the way to eradicate the institutionalized violence of the police state is through violence, it would make sense to resort to the ACAB mantra, since the statement subsumes an “us vs them” paradigm. It dehumanizes the other – the perceived enemy – making any violence schemed or implemented toward an actor in that group not as deleterious to ones mind. But in fact it’s ideas – bad ones at that – upon which the police apparatus is founded, and relied upon to become even more entrenched. Unless of course better ideas are shared and acted upon. The key to successful resistance is ones mental state.

share-ideas-people-virus-network-nodes-copblockReal, lasting change won’t happen firstly or exclusively at the barrel of a gun but through the sharing of ideas that in no uncertain terms, make clear that all people – no matter their gender, place of birth, skin hue, or any other characteristic beyond their control – have the same rights, and that the initiation of force by anyone is not permissible. In this way, the legitimacy supporting the failed institution of a coercion-backed policing is eroded, one mind at a time.

It’s the difference between a revolution and an evolution.

Sure, a revolution may succeed in the overthrow of a current regime, but then what? In steps another crew that claims to have the right to control others in the area, and before long, the situation is back where it was.

An evolution on the other hand, breaks free from that mold. Rather than continue to look to a centralized hub of arbitrary authority, or to a piece of paper that supposedly enshrines our rights, or to others as leaders based on their title or outfit, each person is recognized to have the right to self-determination – to pursue their happiness free from interference from others. In that way, creativity, innovation, and human flourishing is maximized and the human species continues on.

The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
- Carl Sagan

We each as individuals have the ability to think for ourselves. When we’re presented with new information, new ideas, we can choose to reject it, incorporate it somewhat (and thus modify our own views) or adopt it completely (and thus disregard our previously-held ideas). True – a conversation with 100 police employees won’t land all 100 in the second or third category, but it’ll put more there than would be had such conversations never occurred. Police are people, and they can change their mind, and act accordingly.

Ultimately, you’re responsible for your actions alone. If you believe an idea sound and wish to make for a more harmonious world, it behooves you to share it with those around you, especially to those who hold and act according to ideas in conflict. If you disagree with someone, take the time to have a conversation. If their actions harm you or others, make it known. Should a police employee be considering according to their conscience the existence of a supportive community will go a lot further than hostility. Fortunately – and honestly not too surprising – we are seeing more police employees break rank and speak out or quit altogether. Let’s keep it going.

Those of us who value freedom from oppression need focus on the institution. Granted, there is a lot of built-in inertia supporting those institutions that legitimize the initiation of force for some, but ideas can spread quick – especially those based on such a commonsensical point – that we each have the same rights. One person can share an idea with those in their sphere, each of whom can in turn share it with those in their own sphere. Certainly, the freeing of humanity won’t come from a top-down decree but from each of us standing up and shaking off those who seek to control us.


ACAB is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Houston Police Donning Body Cams

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Over the past few weeks 100 Houston police employees have been given wearable body cameras. The head of their outfit – Charles McClelland – said that, “in trying to be accountable to the public, and being open and transparent, we’re very excited about this” and listed as benefits a lessening of citizen complaints, more convictions in court, better attitudes adjusted on both sides of the camera, and an officer safety enhancement as the video can be used for training purposes. But are body cams a step in the right direction or just the latest attempt to try to maintain authority?

As 90% of police interactions happen away from the area captured by dash cams, McClelland noted that that these body cams will make moot that need. The cost cited for each unit is $2,500 per ($850-1000 for the camera and the rest for storage capacity). Each device can record video and audio for four hours  and the data is kept on police servers for 90 days unless needed for court.

But just how easy will it be to obtain that footage? For example, suppose someone claims their rights were violated – will the recording be made public immediately? Will it necessitate a FOIA request? Will it be guarded or go missing? If McClelland and his crew wanted to save taxpayer money and maximize transparency why not upload all raw footage to their existing YouTube channel? Or perhaps make new YouTube channels for each patrol division and have a standard naming convention (ie date-time-badgenumber-videoclip)?

The new deployment of body cams are discussed in the first 6:30 of video:

McClelland did add that he believes these body cams are “the trend in the industry … in just a number of years all police officers across this country will be wearing some form of audio, video recording devices.” Earlier this year a judge mandated that body cams be donned by New York police employees who work out of the precinct in each of the five boroughs that most often utilized ‘stop and frisk’ shakedowns. And three years back, the Oakland police outfit spent over half a million dollars on body cams and instructed its agents to record if directly engaged with a crowd. Though it’s not been uncommon for police employees to fail (forget? neglect?) to do so.

Are body cams the answer for a more accountable police force? Are they worth investing resources into pursuing or will it be business as usual?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Me personally, I don’t think it worthwhile to put efforts into encouraging the adoption of body-worn cameras by police employees as it means time isn’t then being used to advocate for the ideal – that the provision of protection be provided via consensual interactions. A parallel to this line of thinking is that instead of working to try to pass ‘better’ legislation, one can create a better reality by simply living free oneself (and/or creating civil society mechanisms for those in ones sphere/community).

Those body cams are paid for with money stolen from area residents by people who claim to ‘protect and serve’ – that alone speaks to the perverse incentives inherent in their coercive monopoly. Would you advocate that employees at your grocery store steal your money and your neighbors money to wear cameras to help make sure they brutalize you or violate your rights? Of course not – you know, were one of those grocery store employees to initiate force, they’d be held accountable and it’d have a significant, negative impact for that business.

The same accountability mechanisms are absent with today’s policing model. The cameras are at most, the latest band-aid to try to maintain legitimacy for what’s inherently a faulty institution. That’s not to diminish the impact had by filming the police, but assuredly there is a world of difference in who controls the content.

Houston police outfit

Houston-based Watchdogs

Related content

Houston Police Donning Body Cams is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Call the COPS – But Not the Police

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

“Call the COPS – But Not the Police: Voluntaryism and Protective Agencies in Historical Perspective” is an essay by Carl Watner originally included in The Voluntaryist newsletter #123, published in late 2004. The “COPS” referenced, is an acronym for the Committee for Peace and Safety – volunteers who help maintain the peace – used by Jim Payne in his book Princess of Navina Visits Voluntaria.

Watner’s essay is six pages long, with a seventh page of citations, and on the eighth page, part of “The Myth of the Rule of Law” by John Hasnas. Watner notes:

The purpose of this article is to present a brief overview of the history and evolution of policing, and to show that the only legitimate police function (keeping the peace) is made impossible when the police are agents of the coercive state.

Even in the most totalitarian of regimes, police rely on granted legitimacy – on people buying into the bad idea that certain acts are permissible for some but not others. Bad ideas acted upon lead to bad consequences (insert any number of historic and current examples here).

Instead of believing safety can ever be obtained from a coercive monopoly might it make more sense to rely on your trusted network (as the Peacekeeper app facilitates), those you choose to contract with (such as those at the Threat Management Center), or any other voluntary arrangement?

Fortunately, we’re each reasoning beings, able to think for ourselves. If new ideas are thought more sound than those currently-held, we can incorporate them and act accordingly. That is the reason this essay is shared and why this site exists – to share ideas. After all, real change happens one mind at a time.

Call the COPS – But Not the Police

Counter the lies you’ve been exposed to by government schools and the corporate media:

Call the COPS – But Not the Police is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

FILM THE POLICE page now live!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Linked from atop the homepage is a new page – Film The Police, which was created to lessen the learning curve associated with that act.

The page is structured by the following headings:

  • Why Film The Police?
  • When Filming The Police
  • If The Police Engage
  • No Victim, No Crime
  • Legislation related to Recording Video and Audio
  • The Tech
  • Tips
  • Recovering Deleted Footage

View the Film The Police page

If you have thoughts on how the page can be made a better resource please do let us know.

Just imagine if at every police stop, every time someone was stopped and frisked or pulled over in their car, or visited at home, those nearby felt compelled to stop and film the police. That, more than any piece of legislation or policy change or new leadership, would help to curtail out of control police employees. Such a reality would undoubtedly be welcomed by those who already act in the right, as it would help to hold accountable those in the wrong.

FILM THE POLICE page now live! is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

This Year in Bad Cops by Lucy Steigerwald

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The write-up below was done by Lucy Steigerwald and originally posted to Vice.

It is cross-posted here to help make clear that the initiation of force done by police employees isn’t rare or isolated, which then underscores the need for us each to act in whatever non-initiation of force thought most compelling. Share this and other such content with those in your sphere, support those wronged by police employees, film police interactions, quit turning to their coercive monopoly for assistance, don’t take plea deals when there is no victim, etc.

The current policing institution is based at its core on violence – the claimed right to steal from some under the guise of protection. And those said to be protected – you and me – aren’t. Courts have ruled time and again that police have no duty to protect you.

Are you still paying those who operate a protection racket? Are you granting them arbitrary authority? What kind of precedent will that leave for the next generation?


by Lucy Steigerwald

This year we learned, again, that the people who are in charge of enforcing the law have no idea what they were doing. Major news stories on the NSA’s epic surveillance program, prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and the ongoing use of drones to kill people all over the Middle East showed just how deeply rooted the US’s military-law-enforcement-surveillance-prison-industrial complex is, and how at every turn there seem to be more abuses perpetrated either by the administrators responsible for these programs or the rank-and-file officers who weren’t given enough oversight or direction. The silver lining is that media outlets, individual reporters, and advocacy organizations from across the ideological spectrum have been banging the drum louder than ever and forcing us to pay attention to the evils of our criminal justice system. This year brought us journalist Radley Balko’s book on the militarization of the police, documentarian Eugene Jarecki’s feature-length indictment of the war on drugs, and a continuation of the excellent coverage of prisons and cops we’ve come to expect from Mother Jones, Reason, the ACLU, and other civil libertarian standbys.

Maybe this enthusiastic advocacy will someday lead to major reforms. Maybe we’ll even reminisce about 2013 as the year the long trend of incarceration and overaggressive policing finally broke. There were a few bright spots, after all: Bipartisan support for bills intended to reduce the harm done by mandatory minimum sentencing laws inspired Attorney General Eric Holder to offer his own modest reforms in that area. Washington and Colorado voted to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, thereby pounding a few more nails into the drug war’s eventual coffin. From today’s vantage point, however, 2013 mostly looks like another brick in a vast concrete wall—law enforcement as a whole was awful, individual cops and departments were worse. Lives were ruined and dogs were shot. Apropos of all that, here are a few “awards” for the guys with badges. There’s no prize money, just a faint hope that these dubious honors won’t need to be handed out again.

Most Racist Police Department: New York City
The country’s biggest police force would be hard-pressed not to wind up with some very awkward incidents—when you have 34,000 officers, some of them are going to mess up. But a few bad apples can’t be blamed for the NYPD’s stop and frisk program or its CIA-style monitoring of Muslims. For all the cops’ spying on mosques, they produced no useful tips, and stop and frisk didn’t lead to many arrests either. Between January 2002 and June 2012, nearly 4.5 million New Yorkers were stopped on the street and searched for drugs or weapons, and nearly 90 percent weren’t doing anything illegal. The majority of these searches were performed on black or hispanic individuals, giving the whole thing a strong stink of prejudice. Though the policy’s supporters—including lame-duck Mayor Mike Bloomberg—claim this makes the city safer and that minorities aren’t singled out because of their skin color, civil liberties activists begged to differ and sued in 2010. In August, a federal judge ordered reforms and oversight to the officially racist policy, but two months later she was dismissed from the case for being biased against the city. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has pledged to reform the practice once he takes office in January, even if some cops oppose his efforts.

Most Kafkaesque Definition of “Assault”: New York City, Again
A Manhattan grand jury, faced with the case of officers who shot two bystanders during an effort to apprehend an unarmed mentally unstable man in October, have decided assault charges are warranted, which makes sense given that, well, two people were shot. Except they have declined to charge the officers who shot the women, instead blaming the unstable man who had been darting in between cars and causing a bit of a scene on the day in question. He forced the cops to pull out their weapons and fire, apparently, and also made them miss. (By the way, he was eventually brought down by a Taser.)

Photo via Flickr user David Shankbone

Photo via Flickr user David Shankbone

Most Justly Earned Settlement: Daniel Chong
In April 2012, Daniel Chong, then 23 years old, was put into custody when a DEA task force raided his friend’s house. Put in a holding cell and told he wouldn’t be charged, Chong was left alone for the next four days without food or water. Chong was reduced to drinking his own urine to survive, and at one point he was so sure he was going to die he attempted to leave a note of farewell to his mother by breaking his glasses and carving “Sorry Mom” into his arm. After his was finally found, Chong was hospitalized for five days. On July 25, 2013, Chong settled with the federal government for $4.1 million. According to Chong’s attorney, the DEA said they intended to institute national standards that included cameras in cells, as well as daily checks on detained suspects.

Worst Asshole in Law Enforcement: Joe Arpaio
Where to begin with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio? The 81-year-old media whore has been elected six times, in spite of costing taxpayers millions of dollars, thanks to the numerous and justified lawsuits filed against him. First nationally known for bringing back chain gangs and attempting to humiliate inmates by making them wear pink underwear, Arpaio’s definition of law and order includes housing inmates in tent cities and jails that reach dangerous temperatures in the summer, serving cheap, rotten food, and, most recently, mandating patriotism in his prisoners. He aggressively pursues immigrants who crossed the border illegally—so much so that the Department of Justice has sued him for discrimination and disallowed him from enforcing immigration laws at all—but his deputies have ignored scores of sexual assault reports. In May, soon after a federal judge found that Arpaio had unconstitutionally targeted Latinos in his policing, he survived yet another recall attempt. Arizonans can’t seem to get enough of their racist uncle. God bless democracy.

 Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Photo via WikiMedia

Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Photo via WikiMedia

Most Racist K9 Officers: The LAPD
According to data compiled by the Police Assessment Resource Center, in the first half of the year, LA County Sheriff’s Department police dogs bit only non-white suspects. This is likely because K9 units were usually deployed in less affluent neighborhoods where crime is more common, but it could be argued that police dogs should only be used in very serious criminal incidents, since their use often leads to suspects getting seriously injured.

Most Cowardly Pet Killing, Dog Category: Antoine Jones of Georgia
On October 7, Antoine Jones, a six-foot, 300-pound probation officer, went to the Albany, Georgia, home of Cherrie Shelton, as he had multiple times in the past in order to check up on her son. As Jones walked to the door, Shelton’s 12-pound Jack Russell terrier Patches ran outside barking at him. Shelton told the local news she tried to explain that Patches didn’t bite, but before she could finish, Jones shot her dog, who died half an hour later. The officer said in a report he was threatened by the tiny dog, but though the Georgia Department of Corrections initially supported him, an internal investigation of the incident was reportedly opened at the end of October.

Most Cowardly Pet killing, Non-Dog Category: Unnamed NYPD Officers
According to a lawsuit filed by Evelyn Lugo, during a legally dubious raid on her home in September 2012 a New York cop stomped the family’s pet parakeet to death while yelling, “Fuck the bird!” The injuries to several family members are documented in photographs, so it’s quite possible the bird-murder portion of the complaint is accurate as well. RIP Tito the bird.

Most Cowardly Pet Killing, in Front of Children Category: Barry Accorti of Ohio
On June 10, a North Ridgeville, Ohio, police officer responded to a call to remove five feral kittens from a yard. According to the homeowner, officer Barry Accorti told her that the cats were going to “kitty heaven,” as the shelters were full, then shot them all 15 feet from her door. Her children saw the whole thing and were naturally hysterical, and the woman was baffled that Accorti would murder cats so casually within their earshot. Though the North Ridgeville Police Department’s Facebook page was swamped by threats and complaints when the story came out, chief Mike Freeman said his officer’s “actions were appropriate.


Photo via Oregon Department of Transportation

Photo via Oregon Department of Transportation

Most Unnecessary Use of SWAT Tactics, Cute Animal Category: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
In July, a nine-person team from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources raided the St. Francis Society shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in order to capture and kill a fawn named Giggles that had been rescued by the owner of the shelter. Though keeping wild animals is indeed illegal in Wisconsin, the shelter planned to move Giggles the following day, and in any case it doesn’t seem like it would take a whole squad—including four sheriff’s deputies—to foil this particular crime. Anyway, Giggles is dead now.

Most Unnecessary Use of SWAT Tactics, Plant Category: Cops in Arlington, Texas
In early August, the Garden of Eden, an organic farm in Arlington, was the recipient of a SWAT raid that lasted for ten hours. The police in had a warrant to search for marijuana, but they found no plants, and the only purpose the guns-out assault on the farm seemed to serve was to enforce a bunch of city codes related to gardening, grass-cutting, and chopped wood not being properly stacked.

Most Unnecessary Death of a Suspect, Taser Category: Cops in Miami
Tasers are generally less lethal than firearms, but they are unquestionably deadly at times, especially when fired at a person’s chest. On August 6, 18-year-old graffiti artist Israel Hernandez Llach became one of the highest profile Tasering victims after he got caught tagging a boarded-up McDonald’s by Miami police. Instead of letting the kid go, the cops decided to escalate things and pursued by foot and cruiser. When Israel allegedly ran towards an officer after being cornered, the teenager was Tasered once in the chest—minutes later he was dead. The family has filed a lawsuit, and autopsy results have not been revealed.

Clearest Sign That “Field Testing” for Drugs Doesn’t Mean Shit: The Pennsylvania Cops’ Accidental Detention of an Innocent Couple
Last week, a New York couple who were accused of smuggling cocaine with intent to distribute were freed after a month in jail when it was discovered that they didn’t have any coke on them after all. Oops. Annadel Cruz and Alexander Bernstein were pulled over on November 13 for driving slightly over the speed limit and too near the side of the lane, and the state trooper found a small amount of (actual) marijuana and a brick of homemade soap, which a “field test” showed contained cocaine. Except it didn’t contain shit, and on December 13, the Lehigh County, Pennsylvania district attorney dropped the charges.

A memorial for a homeless man killed by LAPD employees. Photo by Paul T. Bradley

A memorial for a homeless man killed by LAPD employees. Photo by Paul T. Bradley

Police Shooting Victim Least Valued by Society: “Donald”
On October 6, a homeless man was shot by the LA County Sheriff’s Department for “wielding a wooden stick” an incident that was covered by VICE’s Paul T. Bradley but mostly ignored by everyone else. It’s only thanks to Bradley we know that the man’s first name was Donald, his homeless acquaintances thought of him as harmless and friendly, and he had been recently harassed by the cops for jaywalking. Several witnesses said that Donald never had a stick at all, and that the final shot was fired at him when he was already on the ground. The shooting sounds unjustified, to say the least, but the only media account of it I can find, other than the VICE story, is a blurb in the Los Angeles Times.

Most Surprising Instance of Cops Being Held Accountable: The Fullerton, California, Police Department
Meanwhile, over in Fullerton, two former cops are currently on trial for the July 5, 2011 beating death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia. Regardless of what happens in the courtroom, the fact that the case got this far is a credit to Thomas’s ex-cop father and some determined community members who refused to shut up about it.

Worst Federal Law Enforcement Agency, Second Runner-Up: The ATF
As I mentioned just last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has had a rough time in the last few decades, and the last few years have not improved its dodgy reputation—for example, they lost 2,000 guns in Mexico during the ill-advised Fast and Furious program. Now it’s been revealed that the ATF have behaved in a similarly appalling fashion on US soil by opening fake storefronts and performing sting operations on mentally disabled drug addicts while letting potentially dangerous felons leave with illicit firearms.

Worst Federal Law Enforcement Agency, First Runner-Up: The DEA
In a perfect world, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wouldn’t exist at all. In a slightly improved world, the DEA would stay clear of any state in which marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use. We live in this world, however, so it counts as huge news that after two states voted to end marijuana prohibition, Attorney General Eric Holder hemmed and hawed for months before saying the Department of Justice would stand down and respect state law… mostly. But the DEA is about more than just drug raids. On September 2 it was revealed that the agency also has a secret database of phone records and what’s more, they sometimes start drug investigations using tips handed to them by the NSA.

Worst Federal Law Enforcement Agency: The NSA
The NSA isn’t supposed to be a law enforcement agency, technically—it’s mission is to monitor foreigners and stop terrorists and other James Bond–caliber supervillains. But technicalities be damned, the agency is clearly sucking up a staggering amount of information on American citizens, no matter how much they plead that they’re doing so unintentionally. Ever since June, when former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed that he got away with allegedly millions of documents from his former employers, the dirty dealings of what was once referred to as “No Such Agency” has been the story that won’t go away. For good reason: The NSA tracks cellphone location data and metadata in its mighty collection dragnet and it has access to data sent by just about every tech giant you care to name. The NSA’s director lied to Congress back in March, and so far efforts to rein in his agency have failed or were toothless from the start. The good news is that on December 16 a federal judge ruled that the NSA’s mass data collection violates the Fourth Amendment, which suggests eventual reform is at least possible.

Good Cop of the Year: Utah’s Chris Burbank
Throughout the year, many cops have saved people from burning buildings or dangerous criminals, arrested people who were genuine threats, and made their communities safer. What’s more rare is a cop who stands distinctly in opposition to modern policing’s worst, most dangerous practices. That’s why the Good Cop of the Year has to be Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank. Burbank expressly opposes prioritizing officer safety above anything else and refuses to embrace the us-versus-them mentality common in police departments across the country. In 2011, he personally explained to the city’s local Occupy movement when and why they had to leave their encampment, giving them plenty of time to gather their belongings and leave—or be carefully arrested if they so chose. In protest situations, he keeps his riot cops back because they tend to aggravate people into confrontations. Even more impressive and controversial, his officers don’t enforce immigration laws. Finally, instead of blaming disastrous drug raids like the one that killed Matthew David Stewart in 2011 on the homeowner, Burbank has taken such tragedies as a hint that the SWAT-heavy status quo is not safe for cops or for citizens. If every police chief believed, as Burbank does, that “[The cops] aren’t an occupying force. We are a part of the community,”this column wouldn’t exist at all.

Lucy Steigerwald is a freelance writer and photographer. Read her blog here and follow her on Twitter: @lucystag

This Year in Bad Cops by Lucy Steigerwald is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Against the Police: They don’t create oppression; they just make it possible

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

The text below was written by Jeremy Weiland and posted on 2013.06.19 to The pictures were added by this editor.

Weiland’s prose is shared here in an effort to cause readers concerned about police brutality to  consider how safety and protection could be provided without the double-standards inherent in today’s institutionalized provision.


by Jeremy Weiland

What I’m about to say may surprise you, but I assure you it’s the honest truth: in my personal experience, cops are overwhelmingly decent folks. They almost always conduct themselves “professionally” and have generally treated me with respect. I’m not saying stories of law enforcement abuse haven’t affected me–they absolutely have, and I’ll get into that. I’m not saying my arsenal of privileges haven’t colored my experiences. But as far as my personal dealings, I’ve encountered very few who were anything but by-the-book and courteous.

Because they are so frequently decent, I’m sometimes tempted to reconcile the profession of policing with the kind of free society I dream about. After all, I have several friends and family who are police officers, and I’m loathe to let ideology darken my opinions of them as individuals. I want to believe policing is possible outside the hegemony of a state, and that these people can be meaningful participants in a stateless community.

But I never persist in that belief very long. I cannot think of any acceptable justification for the existence of law enforcement as an institution at all. The entire enterprise is abominable, root and branch. There is no escaping the conclusion that, everywhere they exist, police are mercenary occupiers serving a power hostile to the authentic human flourishing. As I intend to show, so long as our society exhibits privilege and injustice, I cannot pretend law enforcement does not prop it up in some fundamental manner.


It is the transformation of the function of policing into a profession that chiefly offends me. It’s as ridiculous as professionalizing the role of the voter in a democracy. I’m sure contractors or bureuacrats could devise a way to vote more efficiently than any of us flesh-and-blood folks can, but wouldn’t that defeat the point? It’s crucial to a democracy that everybody vote; it’s what makes it a democracy (putting aside whether such formal democratic governance is desirable).

In the same way all eligble members must vote in order for a democracy to be most legitimate and authentic, being a member of a free, self-governing, non-authoritarian community necessarily entails policing on the part of every community member. After all, more is implied by “community” than mere proximity of domiciles. Rather, communities should comprise a population unit bound by shared values, a coherent body brought together and made distinct by the identity emerging from individual lives. When you surrender using coercion as an organizing principle, what other basis is there for collectivity?

These shared values do not ensure there will never be conflict, or even that these communities will always work. They do, however, ensure that the costs, side-effects, and consequences of that community’s values will be legi

ble to the people themselves. If you want racism in your community, well, you’ll have to do the dirty business of pushing around people yourself–no passing laws and hiring cops to do it for you. If you want to enforce unequal distribution of wealth, you can’t hire goons to keep your neighbors fenced off in squalor. Whatever problems face the community, at least the community cannot ignore them.

Professionalizing the policing of communities encourages people to promote values–such as through monopoly law–without fully internalizing the costs of doing so. These costs accrue not just monetarily; they are costs incurred through inconvenience, through mental calcuation, averting one’s eyes, and psychological coping, through the inalienable duties of community membership, through the inability to simply ignore the reality of your fellow man. If you outsource this, you don’t just concentrate power in a class of people with obscene incentives to abuse it. You also outsource your ability to learn whether or not your community actually functions at all. And you will be hostage to the police because you’re afraid to fully accept and participate in the consequences of your way of life. Shouldn’t that tell you something about your community?

a-tyranny-based on-deception-and-maintained-by-terror-must-inevitably-perish-from-the-poison-it-generates-within-itself-albert-einstein

I don’t understand why anarchists of all stripes underemphasize the degree to which anarchism is necessarily incompatible with mediating institutions like the police. It seems to me that speaking only of what people can expect to get from a stateless society smacks of typical individualist myopia. Abolishing constituted authority confers the duty to regulate and manage personally, relying on everybody to step up and do their part.

You can’t hold the responsibilities of human freedom without unfiltered, direct information about the conditions under which that freedom exists. To be free in a particular context must entail an awareness of that particular context. Anarchism, sans ideology, is ultimately about being present, directly experiencing the collective reality, noticing the fluid conditions that are equally capable of frustrating and liberating us all. Any political principles following from that approach downright empirical facts.

Anarchism prefigures a world in which people go about human business in all its facets, without mediation or privilege. Self-government doesn’t merely devolve the operations of governance, such as the parliamentary or legal, to the common man. It changes the nature of what we mean by government, transforming it from a formality of institutions running parallel to society into a day-to-day individual duty, a constant creation of and reaction to society, not in spite of the people’s confluence and conviviality but as its logical product.

We find ourselves held hostage by police and their increasing demands for more intrusive, more arresting, more egregious domination because we know our communities cannot work on their own. So we put up with the arrogance, the abuse, the concentration of unaccountable power. In addition to pointing out the evil and error of this situation, anarchists must stress that it is also an abdication to the state of the very essence of our social nature. A police force tangibly represents the abandonment of community, a clue that the collective values of the population do not align with the lived reality.

A community doesn’t require guards wielding lethal force to maintain itself. It doesn’t have to protect those with more privilege, power, or wealth from those with less. The very fact that you have to constantly protect power and privilege in first place, let alone do so by hiring the goon squad, tells you whatever arrangements you wish to protect are artificial, illegitimate, and unsustainable.


If community wealth is imbalanced, of course you will have crime. If you have a subclass of people who are disrespected consistently by the others, of course you will have violence. If you refuse to engage directly with your neighbors, of course you’ll need an armed mediation squad to protect you and yours from them and theirs. And if your reaction to the messy business of human beings is to wall yourself off from them with a professional cleanup crew, mopping up the trail of blood and pain your chosen existence creates, of course it will persist. To solve a problem you must first face it.

The police don’t create injustice, inequality, suffering, poverty, and crime; those things will probably happen anywhere to some degree. All that police do is maintain the status quo that allows these things to continue and intensify, protecting business as usual from them. “Bad people” exist, but I see no evidence that the police has some sort of unique ability to identify them, so prevalent are they in the halls of power (and donut shops).

By sanitizing the problems our laws, practices, and values create for us, they make our collective dysfunction possible. We don’t need to actually respond to the damage we cause; we just pay to have it managed for us, and this default attitude enables many of the intractible, ongoing crises of modern life because the community’s fluid, adaptive nature has been denied. The police allow us to pretend this constant failure of humanity is just the way the world is, instead of what we ask them to institute as an alternative to facing it head on.

It’s like a town living behind a dam that can’t hold; every time it floods, the solution is a bigger, better, more expensive dam, instead of just moving to a place that doesn’t require a dam. Similarly, it’s as if the police manufacture the community’s need for their services, with our all too frequently enthusiastic blessing. While I criticize the individuals who choose the crappy profession of law enforcement for not self-regulating more, I’m sympathetic to their predicament to defend an indefensible and unsustainable order. There’s no way to do it but with brutal violence, ubiquitious threats, and raw, unaccountable power.

Professional police create the illusion that we can be passive consumers of government. Law enforcement is the indispensible institution of the modern state, the fulcrum of authoritarianism in our society. The honest anarchist intuitively recognizes this, but may not realize that any future stateless society with a professional police class will inevitably end up as bad or worse. When it comes to anarchism, you cannot alienate your agency to personally produce the society you wish to participate in.

The only alternative to hierarchy, authority, and privilege is to reclaim our inalienable duty to be the police ourselves, to be members of a horizontal community, to be the exemplars of the values we claim to hold dear, and to face danger and suffering squarely. Anything less is nothing but an amusement park, a simulcrum of community that sells us tickets to a cage. That kind of farce has nothing to do with the anarchist project, which concerns humans and the communities that emerge from their congress.

Jeremy Weiland lives in Richmond, VA with his wife Tasha and their beagle Freddie. He writes software for a living and is active in radical politics. Other passions include music, backpacking, barbeque and the contemplative life. 

Connect with Weiland on Twitter:




Against the Police: They don’t create oppression; they just make it possible is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights