WeCopwatch To Offer Copwatch / Know Your Rights Course

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

2015 you will be seeing a lot of new WeCopwatch projects

 

From assisting the growth of Copwatch efforts in Ferguson, to the expansion of Copwatch initiatives nationwide, we are excited to see what the coming months have in store for us.

Know Your Rights Trainings
One of the issues any police accountability site runs into is the immense need for information. On any given day multiple inboxes are loaded with legal questions from people who have been abused by law enforcement, or are interested in forming a copwatch group.

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Founding member of WeCopwatch, Jacob Crawford ran into this same issue when he first joined Berkeley Copwatch in 2000. There were calls daily for Copwatch support, and at times, not enough hours in the day to even respond to all of them.

Back then the answer to this issue was to create a Know Your Rights Training Video “These Streets Are Watching” which would be played in living rooms and auditoriums across the country.

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With so many recent inquiries about how to start a Copwatch, WeCopwatch has been in the back rooms for the past month building an online course that will cover your rights during police encounters, and while documenting police stops.

This course will be ongoing, free, and available. 10 week online courses will be provided throughout the year with the availability of a Trainer’s to help assist. And anyone can independently sign up outside of the 10 week course offers, and take the course at their own pace.

The course allows people to either take exams or creative writing to determine one’s knowledge and understanding or the course material, and will have intensive focus classes on consent, detentions, arrests, documentation, de-escalation, handling evidence, national lawyers guild legal observing training.

If you want to grab some Copwatch gear, do so! All proceeds go right back into current projects.

WeCopwatch.org/Shop

Shirtss

We are also building our surplus. We have multiple cities we are trying to support. If you believe in the camera drive as seen in Fergsuson feel free to contribute here

COPWATCH CAMERA FUND

http://www.gofundme.com/Copwatching-in-Ferguson

If you have a used camera, or used mac, or can 3D print cameras, or am down to help press shirts and or literature regionally. Email us at WeCopwatch@gmail.com . We need regional support in Oakland, Ferguson, Chicago, Detroit and DC

 WECOPWATCH CAMERA DRIVEaidd

WeCopwatch To Offer Copwatch / Know Your Rights Course is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

The 1000 Camera Initiative

Friday, October 31st, 2014

A Canfield Watchmen and WeCopwatch Project

“We Need More Copwatchers. Not Cops with Cameras.” – David Whitt, Canfield Watchmen

The Canfield Watchmen is a community based Copwatch project recently formed in the Ferguson, MO, Canfield Green apartments, where Mike Brown was killed.

Canfield Green residents organized to educate themselves on their rights in police encounters and equip themselves with video cameras as a deterrent to further police misconduct. Funds raised by the Watchmen and Oakland, CA – based WeCopwatch enabled hundreds of Canfield residents to be trained and receive cameras.

The cameras led to a significant decrease in police harassment and violence, prompting the Canfield Watchmen to train residents of other St. Louis County neighborhoods and groups active in the Justice for Mike Brown movement.

Today, the Canfield Watchmen are announcing the 1000 Camera Project, a joint project of the Watchmen and WeCopwatch. One thousand St. Louis area residents will be trained and armed with copwatch cameras.

If you and your community reside in the ST Louis area and want to make a difference. Contact us! https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Canfield-Watchmen/283798761811477?fref=ts

If you support this project. Come buy some gear at WeCopwatch.org/shop All proceeds are currently going towards Copwatch projects in Ferguson

The 1000 Camera Initiative is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

(Ferguson) Canfield Watchmen Distribute Copwatch Gear For Halloween

Monday, October 27th, 2014

As you know, WeCopwatch and The Canfield Watchmen have been conducting Know Your Rights trainings and equipping local residents video cameras. This Halloween The Canfield Watchmen are handing out Copwatch shirts to newly trained to Copwatchers to help promote a safe environment for trick or treaters on Halloween.

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We sell the Copwatch Gear on WeCopwatch to be able to donate these shirts to the people we train.
If you believe in the project and want to donate for camera purchases, you can donate to Copwatching in Ferguson Fund.
http://www.gofundme.com/Copwatching-in-Ferguson

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Or if you want to support the Shirt distribution, check out our store
http://wecopwatch.org/shop/

(Ferguson) Canfield Watchmen Distribute Copwatch Gear For Halloween is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Copwatch Camera Drive For Ferguson Proving To Be A Success

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

http://funds.gofundme.com/index.php?route=fundmanager&url=Copwatching-in-Ferguson

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.
http://funds.gofundme.com/index.php?route=fundmanager&url=Copwatching-in-Ferguson

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.

Signed,

  • 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.”

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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.

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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 CopBlock.org’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

ACAB

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.

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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

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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