The Report of Investigation submitted on Sept. 11, 2012 by Henry Folsom, the Missouri State Highway Patrol employee who last September shot Jeffrey Weinhaus, has made it’s way to Cop Block.
For complete background, contact info, ways you can help Weinhaus, and updates, see: CopBlock.org/JeffreyWeinhaus
Have you ever derided a “public official”? I’d guess a lot of us have.
When recounting to your friends the multiple times you’ve been pulled-over and harassed by the same police employee on a fishing expedition are you apt to use glowing descriptors?
When giving an overview of a beat-down you witnessed a couple months prior outside a club, in which blows were delivered to a peaceful person by someone who claimed obedience per their badge, might you use colorful language to aid in communicating the seriousness of the situation?
The threats Folsom cited stemmed from the Aug. 16, 2012 video Jeffrey Weinhaus published called The Party’s Over. Yes he used the word “motherfucker” more than once. But was anyone made a victim? Is swearing rationale enough for the theft of ones computers by “the authorities”?
If Folsom’s vague language – that fails to articulate any demonstrable harm, is accepted on its face, then what’s to prevent such claims to be made against anyone who derides a “public official”?
Look at Folsom’s text. Could the same ambiguous claim referencing such a statement be attributed to you? I’m sure, for example, many people have called Manny Ramos and Jay Cicinelli – individuals who beat-down and killed Kelly Thomas – motherfuckers. Should all those folks have their houses searched and computers and cameras taken?
Why are Folsom and Mertens in Franklin County at all? They work out of Troop I of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Franklin County is supposedly under the jurisdiction of Troop C. If Weinhaus had really done something worth looking into, why hadn’t someone from Troop C spearheaded the follow-up?
Folsom doesn’t say who at the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office he spoke with but I’d guess it was Robert E. Parks, the same person who notarized the Aug. 22, 2012 search warrant and who’s now prosecuting Weinhaus? It sure seems like a way to provide-for job security.
I should point-out too that I’ve never seen a copy of the arrest warrant Folsom claimed to have obtained on Sept. 11, 2012. Nor have I heard from any of the people on the ground in Missouri that are closer to the situation that they have seen the arrest warrant. We’ll see if this document ever emerges…
Again, Folsom is vague. With whom did he contact at Franklin County Sheriff’s Department? Who declined to assist? If such a call does exist, can a record of a time stamp through the switchboard be provided? In fact, Folsom’s claim conflicts directly with statements made by Gary F. Toelke, who’s employed at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.
In a letter response to Weinhaus and in a phone call with me, Toelke, in no uncertain terms, noted that he and his colleagues were not made aware of Folsom’s actions. This conflicts directly with MoRS 43.200 (pg.3).
Interesting to learn of the inclusion of Patrick Cunningham Mike Maruschak, employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Did Cunningham or Maruschak writer reports about the incident that transpired? One would think such a practice would be protocol. Why haven’t those been made public?
Note Folsom non-nonchalantly admits to lying to Weinhaus – to pretend that his computers were to be returned. Police employees can and do lie. Their friends in legal land say such a practice is perfectly acceptable. Strange, that’s not something I’d choose to pay for…
Were reports written by the as of yet unnamed employees from Troop C of the Missouri State Highway Patrol who were present? Why haven’t those been made public?
Did the fact that the MFA Oil station didn’t have surveillance cameras factor into the decision by Folsom and crew to suggest it as a meeting place to Weinhaus? I’d guess we’ll never know but something to ponder.
Again, the use of lies is frequent. Folsom knowingly peddled a false rationale to Weinhaus – that he was to receive his computers and cameras. And that he – Folsom – would only be accompanied by one colleague.
It’s clear now, in retrospect, that it would have been wise for Weinhaus to trust his gut and to appear with others. At least then the interaction could have been filmed from multiple angles. And who knows – it could have deterred what unfolded from happening altogether.
Have the two men who were working on the gutters been interviewed? It’d be interesting to hear if the way their remember the story unfolding matches more-closely that of Folsom or Weinhaus. I’ve also heard of at least two other witnesses – a man delivering sodas from his truck, and a teenager who is hearing impaired – though Folsom makes no mention in his write-up. If anyone has contact information for any of these witnesses please encourage them to reach out via email@example.com
It’s pretty telling that Weinhaus right away disclosed to Folsom that he didn’t trust him, and that he recognized that meeting in a public place would provide at least some level of protection. At least that was the thought. It’s clear now, as it’s been communicated to me all along, that it was Folsom who suggested the meeting location.
Folsom here claims that “I immediately recognized that Weinhaus was not responding to my conversation”, including his statement to Weinhaus “that I had the papers right here for him to sign to get his computers back.”
Yet both of these, nor the instruction to Mertens, never happened. That’s objectively provable thanks to an audio recording that later emerged. Unbeknownst to Folsom, Weinhaus had, before he stepped out of his car, called his ex-wife Val on his cell phone, which he put in his pocket. Val recorded the call.
As a lesser point, note that Folsom’s statement – “Weinahus remained in a stationary position along side of his vehicle” differs from the news report that initially aired, which communicated with viewers that Weinhaus “started walking” toward Folsom and Mertens. Admittedly, when stories are timely it’s not uncommon for errors, as all info isn’t known, but it causes me to wonder if the media source corrected it’s misstatement. To me, it’s just another example of the lamestream media defaulting to side with the so-claimed “authorities.”
Missouri is an open carry state. Weinhaus arrived with a handgun in a holster on his hip, as did Folsom and his cronies. Sure, some folks wouldn’t advise open carrying to a pre-arranged meeting with folks who wear badges (or is that in fact exactly the time to exercise ones rights?) and even if that’s wise advice, it still doesn’t make Weinhaus a criminal for doing so.
Folsom wrote that he “ordered Weinhaus to get his hand off the gun.” Not once is Folsom or anyone heard requesting that a hand be removed from a gun. Weinahus didn’t trust Folsom. Folsom even admitted that in this write-up.
What was Weinhaus to think when he saw Folsom draw his pistol and “position it at the low ready”? Remember, Weinhaus had been told by Folsom, repeatedly, that he was to receive back his property, noting that he “assured” Weinhaus of that point.
Think about it another way – if Folsom was correct in his actions – of unholstering his weapon and holding it in the “low ready” based simply on the fact that he was interacting with someone open carrying – then what’s to prevent such latent hostility from being replicated tens of thousands of times across Missouri when anyone wearing a badge encounters someone else open carrying, who doesn’t also have on a badge?
Folsom admits to shooting at Weinhaus a total of four times. Mertens might have fired his weapon. Were those weapons secured immediately afterwards so ballistic tests could be conducted? I’d hope that was standard operating procedure.
Yes, as some may correctly point-out, such testing isn’t always foolproof as the markings left from a barrel on a round change throughout the life of the barrel, but it’d still be accurate enough to compare the rounds next fired through to those barrels (say, in a controlled environment like a crime lab) harvested from Weinhaus’s body.
Also, how can Mertens not be sure if he’d fired his weapon? Isn’t he a trained professional? Admittedly, such a situation is likely very tense, so even if we grant that Merten’s recollection may not be spot-on, in the least, couldn’t he have ejected the magazine and cleared the chamber of his pistol, to then deduce if he’d fired?
Folsom notes that Weinhaus had been “continually” drawing his handgun, yet it was only “partially out of the holster” post-shooting – was Weinhaus moving in slow-mo?
And I’ve never once heard of a police employee securing the firearm of someone they allege caused them fear of death push their firearm back into their holster and then removing the holster from their belt. Wouldn’t it be safer to remove the firearm, which was already supposedly unholstered? I’m hoping to get a copy of the 26min audio that was recorded via the phone in Weinhaus’s pocket (thus far only a less-than 30-sec clip of the shooting has been shared) – as that allegedly contains a question near the end that has one person asking about the location of the handgun, which would mean Weinhaus’s handgun was not secured in the mannter claimed.
Folsom wrote that Mertens “attempted to give further medical treatment to Weinhaus’ injuries.” Again, I don’t now possess objective information but I’ve been told that after the shooting, Weinhaus was left unattended until the EMTs arrived. I’m hoping to get a copy of the 26min audio that was recorded via the phone in Weinhaus’s pocket – from which it can be inferred due to the lack of such related conversations, that medical care was not rendered. When/if that happens it’ll be shared at http://CopBlock.org/JeffreyWeinhaus. Alternatively, it’d be good to hear what is recounted by witnesses at the scene.
Nothing like Troop C employees “investigating” Troop I employees.
About a month ago I blogged about the arrival of CopBlock.org Bracelets and thus far over 200 have gone out the door. That being said, I’m looking to liquidate this inventory and have adjusted the price accordingly. You can now get CopBlock.org bracelets for a little as .50 cents each! Simply click below to get started.
The post below was originally published to LibertyWebAlliance.com (LWA). Our friends at LWA have been integral to the growth and impact of CopBlock.org – and more importantly, to the spread of the ideas behind this decentralized project.
In addition to hosting CopBlock.org and providing much behind-the-scenes IT support, LWA hosts and helps get off-the-ground many of the Cop Block offshoots that have websites.
To be clear, without LWA, Cop Block wouldn’t be what it is today. If you have the means, consider supporting their efforts.
- the video “Help Maximize Cop Block’s Impact“, which includes this passage: “… another vital component I hope to have better-funded is our IT, which is quite literally the backbone of our operations, specifically the hosting that’s provided by Liberty Web Alliance“
- posts made to CopBlock.org that reference Liberty Web Alliance
by Liberty Web Alliance
It is with mixed emotions we celebrate CopBlock‘s 3rd anniversary of educating people that “badges don’t grant extra rights”.
- On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see how many people have been reading CopBlock and how it has grown.
- On the other hand, as Pete Eyre would say, we would rather a day come when this type of public spotlight and activism is no longer needed.
So it is with optimism and sadness that CopBlock must continue on.
Right now the site is averaging about 4,500 visits per day. We hate doing the whole begging for money thing but just remember that keeping a site with this amount of traffic up-and-running, loading quick, and secure from attacks is expensive in both time and money. If you place value on our impact please support us.
We believe in this so much that we do this whether the community support it or not but it sure makes it easier when we aren’t alone.
There are also dozens of CopBlock sub groups that have sprung up.
View all of Archive.org’s CopBlock snapshots
- Become a fan of CopBlock on Facebook
- Follow CopBlock on Twitter
- Subscribe to CopBlock on YouTube
- Support CopBlock by buying merchandise and donating
As part of marking our 3 year Anniversary, please stop by our post on Liberty Web Alliance and leave a comment about how CopBlock has impacted you or others.
Note that the videos below are all raw (shot with my HTC Evo 5 via Cop Block’s Bambuser channel, my chest-mounted GoPro, and/or my Canon Vixia HF R10. At the conclusion of The Cop Block Tour I’ll make time to put-together some solid, over-arching videos using content from this stop. In the meantime, if you are so-compelled, you’re welcomed and encouraged to utilize this content and all other content at CopBlock.org.
On Friday, Jan. 25th, I left Richmond and made my way southwest toward Winston as part of The Cop Block Tour.
Almost immediately upon entering the arbitrary political boundary of North Carolina I encountered snow and later, ice. As I didn’t want my Tahoe to be among the many vehicles seen off the road, the last 30miles of the drive were done in four-wheel-drive-high.
I wasn’t expecting a big turn-out at the Winston meetup, yet that didn’t mean a lack of interactions with Winston police employees – though all were civil and actually pretty productive.
If you’re in this area I encourage you to connect and get active with:
Though I arrived at the end of the stop (the driver stopped was not given a ransom), it was still good to both make the driver and police employee know that people are out there filming such encounters, which hopefully helps make it more likely such folks are on their best behavior.
A short time later, after parking in the lot of a nearby WalMart, I had a pretty congenial convo with current Winston police employee Woods (fast-forward to 2:35) and was able to leave literature both with him and his colleague, L. Waszczenuk #664, and I encouraged them to check out CopBlock.org/WelcomeLEOs and share any feedback.
This next video isn’t too captivating, yet it’s shared here to show what I think is a good practice – film whenever you see or are involved with a police interaction. If you never need to use the footage, cool, but if it’s not collected at the time it can’t be recreated should something happen.
Later, I saw more police lights in the distance and walked over to create an objective record of whatever actions were happening. In this case, it wasn’t anything too crazy – just a guy with a BMW who was unable to make it up the icy hill.
It’s shared here both to reinforce the value of filming all police interactions when possible, and because I attempted to share some Copblocking-related tips on the way to and from the scene.
When on the road with The Cop Block Tour I have thus far split time between crashing at friend’s places and fulltiming in my Tahoe. I gave a little overview of fulltiming in my Tahoe:
And a short time later approached Winston police employee Reese (sp?), in an effort to both learn why he and a number of his colleagues were in such a close proximity to my location, and to share ideas.
As I thought when initially approaching, the presence of Winston police was due not to me, but a minor traffic accident. Still, as I point-out in the video, it was a good use of a couple of minutes as Reese is now aware of CopBlock.org/WelcomeLEOs.
Since other Copblockers weren’t present to record the above interaction from another vantage point, I left my GoPro filming from my locked Tahoe – just in case…
Later, I double-checked to make sure it was alright that I park in the Walmart lot. Though they tend to have an open policy for overnighters, as a way to incur business, I thought it worth asking as I respect property rights.
I had spent four months in Winston over the fall, from which this content was generated from myself and other activists in the area:
Those interactions, coupled with Copblocking while rolling around, likely made many employed at Winston police aware of CopBlock.org and the efforts of those involved with the decentralized project, as Nehemiah James not too long after, submitted a post to Cop Block upon the recommendation of a Winston police employee, who apparently also recognized the not-too-professional actions of his own colleague. Read about in the post: Unlawful Treatment By Officer Lovejoy
On Wednesday, Jan. 23rd, 2013 I met-up with some good folks at a Richmond diner to discuss ideas and tactics on how we can together help to bring-about a world free from the coercive monopoly of policing.
It was a good crew – some folks present were already active with Virginia Cop Block, including Nate Cox, who founded the group, Chris Staples, who recently brought his solid writing skills to the table, Jimmy and Phil, who helped on the ground with the Liberty Empowerment Project, and a number of others active on the periphery or who had interest in learning more about the ideas and tactics those present utilize.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, one of the main reasons for The Cop Block Tour is to help facilitate the connections between individuals who live near each other, so that they can collaborate and have support on the ground. One example of that happening at this meetup was that now, one person active south of Richmond, largely alone, is now aware of someone else who lives not too far away, who has interest in getting more-involved, which should make future efforts even more effective (and less-risky). Good stuff.
The actual Copblocking efforts of this stop weren’t too frequent. I used my down time to do work online. Yet, when we rolled around town we had our cameras at the ready (nothing I saw necessitated any further on-site activity) and during many interactions, outreach, including the sharing of literature, was had.
Virginia Cop Block
- Taking a Stand Against the Police State by VA CB founder Nate Cox
It’s clear that Nate and others active with Virginia Cop Block have had a significant positive impact in the Richmond area and throughout Virginia. Check out related posts made to Cop Block about their efforts. Just imagine if their reach were had in every city and town (it’s starting!).
Whenever an email is received at firstname.lastname@example.org that shares a recount of a situation in Virginia, I don’t hesitate to pass it along to VA CB, knowing full-well that the high-caliber of people involved will be able to reply, assist, or support those seeking help.
As I was rolling south to my next stop – Winston – I did a recap of my time in Richmond and shared some related thoughts:
Right now I’m on the road in my Tahoe with The Cop Block Tour.
People have asked what its objectives are – for me it’s two-fold:
- to facilitate the connections of good folks in the same area to make more-likely future collaboration
- introduce into the conversation of police accountability the fact that badges don’t grant extra rights [via convos and resources like /knowledge, /groups, /startagroup, /knowyourrights, /graphics, /flyers, /apps, /submit, YouTube videos, etc.)
As I say on the /tour page:
For a relatively little bit of coin, a lot ideas and resources will be shared and many good folks will connect, thereby lessening the ability of the fear peddled by those who claim the “legitimate” right to initiate force to take hold, so we can work together to proactively create a reality absent institutionalized violence.
I thought I’d share a couple of write-ups I’d done in the past as I think it’ll help provide more background for my advocacy that policing be provided like any other good or service – not via coercive interactions, but via consensual interactions. The first post – A Was For America – was published in late 2011, the second – My Journey To Embracing Freedom in All Issues At All Times – in early 2007.
I share them here not because I think you learning about me is more important than me learning about you, but to support my claim that ideas have consequences.
That’s why we created the “Welcome LEOs” page (LEO = “law enforcement officer”) in an effort to have a conversation that points-out that while most in policing have noble aims, they can never be achieved through a coercion-backed monopoly.
Think about just how paradoxical and impossible it is for someone to “protect” you if they first steal from you?
To take a cue from Herbert Spencer, I concluded that I have the right to ignore the state. Critical to reaching that conclusion is grasping that “the state” is just a bad idea. And that ideas can be modified or replaced.
If you are one day aggressed upon – if someone claims a “right” to disarm you, or to steal your house by dressing it up as “eminent domain”, or your vehicle due to “asset forfeiture”, fault lies not with text on paper but that individual.
From the conclusion of the first essay below:
Most individuals mean well, but they’ve only been exposed to the misinformation peddled in gun-run schools and by the mainstream media, which communicate that it’s ok for people working for the government to do things that would be wrong for others to do. Introduction to the ideas of self-ownership, one mind at a time, can only encourage the peaceful evolution toward a more free and prosperous society.
Realize that there is no rule of law.
Order is emergent.
‘A’ Was For America: My Journey to Voluntaryism
By Peter Eyre at voluntaryist.com
I was born in 1980, in Ponca City, OK – a town of about 25,000 two hours north of Oklahoma City. My old man – a chemist graduate from Madison by way of Purdue – worked at the Conoco refinery, the area’s biggest employer. My mom – who’d been a nurse at the hospital – opted to stay at home with me and my older bro.Growing up I played sports (sometimes poorly) and inherited my dad’s love of riding bicycles. My folks were supportive.
One book they gave me, The Way Things Work, instilled in me an interest to investigate what was beneath the surface. When I was ten a tree house we’d started building wasn’t getting finished, so I knew some change was in the air.We moved 700 miles up the road (I-35) to a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Save for math, school was easy enough but I tended to get into trouble for stuff. When younger – I got nothing more than checks next to my name on the blackboard. When older – I did nothing serious enough to get me caught up in the legal system, but I have had to apologize for some things I did in 11th and 12th grades.Though I spoke with Army and Marine recruiters in 10th grade, like most of my classmates, I ended up heading off to college. My worldview at the time was aptly summarized by my second tattoo – an American flag surrounded by the text “Love it or leave it.” I majored in Law Enforcement. A mandatory class in the Ethnic Studies department was the impetus for that becoming my second major. In both programs I found that more and more, I was often the lone voice of dissent.
Drug policy was the issue that got me into the ideas of liberty. James P. Gray’s Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It was one of the assigned books in a Sociology class I took, and provided me with a logical framework of potential alternatives. I consumed other books on the issue and in a Law Enforcement class, wrote a paper calling for the decriminalization of drugs. My Ethnic Studies classes caused me to question democracy, after it became clear that a majority doesn’t make something right. It didn’t make sense to me that people should celebrate the political victories of women’s suffrage or the ending of enslavement but ignore the fact that it was the same institution that had “legalized” such inequalities in the first place. Ride-alongs and time spent as an intern with the St. Paul Police Department only reinforced my belief that systemic changes needed to be made.
I went off to grad school at Western Illinois University, where I majored in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. The program was geared for those heading into the field rather than academia. My grades were good – 3.85GPA in undergrad and 3.91 in grad school. I attended conferences around the country and was active with many organizations on campus, including the College Libertarians.
Thought-provoking discussions at our meetings caused me to question the Statist Quo. I took my views on drug policy to their logical conclusion – get the State out of the way. The same happened to marriage and education and other issues. I quit thinking about working for federal law enforcement agencies since I couldn’t support any of their missions. Still, I thought I could have a positive impact working at a big police department. After all, wasn’t protecting people and property a proper role of government?
I tested with New York City Police Department, Seattle PD and LAPD, and scored at the 94%, 98% and 100% levels, respectively. But, after a questionable reading on the lie detector test administered by the LAPD, they found that I hadn’t been truthful about my use of “illicit” substances. Consequently, they dropped me from consideration. I thought more about my future. I withdrew my name from consideration with the NYPD and Seattle and interviewed and was then offered a job in the private sector working for a surveillance company. I had my choice of placements around the country and was to be given a car and quite-decent salary, but then I received an email that changed the course of my life. I had previously applied for an intern position at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., thinking that such an environment would be very beneficial to my intellectual development. I didn’t know anyone in Washington, D. C., but I knew it was an awesome opportunity, so off I went into the belly of the beast.
I exited the train in Union Station with two bags and my boxed-up bicycle in early January of 2005 and began my internship in the Foreign Policy & Defense department. The caliber of those I was surrounded by was impressive. Most of the other interns came from big-name schools and were well-read. I felt like I had some catching-up to do and I worked hard to get the most out of my time there. Weekly seminars by Cato staff on public speaking, op-ed writing, research techniques and more helped me become a more-effective communicator of liberty. In-house events and those around town exposed me to a lot of ideas and policy proposals. After a short time I got up the courage to question those I felt less-than consistent. And for the first time I was exposed to economics (I hadn’t had a single class in high school or college). Austrian economics specifically opened up to me an entirely new perspective on the world, one centered on the actions of individuals rather than on mega-data like GDP or nation-state imports/exports. This was instrumental in my progress to seeing political boundaries as arbitrary.
That summer I was fortunate to be one of about 40 in the Koch Summer Fellow Program (KSFP). John Hasnas led one of the sessions during our opening week, and though I wasn’t assigned to his group, I made time to talk with him at the suggestion of others in the program. I found his views thought-provoking and today continue to share his essay “The Myth of the Rule of Law” with others who believe law created and interpreted by man is a good thing. Through the KSFP I interned at the Drug Policy Alliance. While some colleagues there advocated for the government to be completely uninvolved with drug policy, most sought to redirect government involvement from enforcement to treatment. Healthy conversation ensued and working through political channels to bring about systemic change became even less attractive.
I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time and finally understood the “Who is John Galt?” reference I had months before seen on a t-shirt. In June, I went to the Porcupine Freedom Fest (PorcFest), the summer event hosted by the Free State Project, after its founder Jason Sorens addressed our KSFP class. It was the first time I was around people who openly carried weapons and were living the free lifestyle. Their attitudes were very infectious. In August 2005, I was hired by the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), which I still believe is one of the best bang-for-your-buck non-profits advancing liberty.
I worked at IHS for over 2 1/2yrs, last serving as director of the campus outreach program, which demonstrated to me the benefit of coupling online and in-person communications. While there I read Bruce Benson’s The Enterprise of Law, Carl Watner’s I Must Speak Out, the Tannehill’s The Market for Liberty, and Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism just to name a few. At some point while at IHS I realized that I was an anarchist, although I initially hesitated to describe myself as such, fearing I’d do more harm than good since I might fail to adequately address the critiques posed by others. That self-censorship soon passed.
In early 2008, I left IHS for Bureaucrash, a then-principled activist-oriented organization. It was a tough decision, but it was my logical next step. The intellectual foundation and skills I’d acquired over the past few years and the discretion afforded in my new role facilitated the creation of tools and content that helped advance the voluntary society. A vibrant social network meant individuals could connect online, share ideas and even meet in-person. Events, videos, merchandising and other efforts reinforced this community’s growth. A year later, I left DC to “search for freedom in America” through the Motorhome Diaries (MHD) with my friend Jason Talley, who, too, had been active in DC’s libertarian think tank world.
We set out in our RV, dubbed MARV, the Mobile Authority Resistance Vehicle, and pointed our cameras at those advancing the freedom movement. We held meetups in over 50 cities and did media and outreach. Shortly into the tour we received an email from Adam Mueller, who I subsequently nicknamed Ademo, and who later changed his last name to Freeman, to show that he owned himself. He expressed interest in joining our project. A week later he took the train from Milwaukee to Chicago, and we picked him up as we headed west. A month later we were stopped in Jones County, MS for having a temporary, rather than a permanent, metal license plate. This led to our unjust arrest and the search of MARV, and underscored why we were doing what we were doing – the police state was alive and well, but so was the liberty-oriented community, who made hundreds of calls to our captors, raised bail money, and helped get more attention on our rights-violations. I still get teary-eyed when talking about the spontaneous nature of the support we received from friends and other lovers of liberty. After seven months we had visited 41 states, met thousands of people, and uploaded 200 video interviews from policy wonks, activists, thinkers and, yes, three politicians (including Ron Paul and Adam Kokesh).
In early 2009, I joined Ademo at Cop Block (CB), a police accountability project he’d started after being harassed by an individual working for his local police department. Its tagline, “badges don’t grant extra rights” and proactive tactics have resonated with a lot of people, including a growing number of contributors. Though everyone approaches the issue from a different angle and with a different tone, we all seek to communicate that it’s the monopoly on the provision of law enforcement that must cease to end the rights-violations from those wearing badges.
A couple of months later, after I bought Jason out of his half of MARV, Ademo and I founded Liberty On Tour, through which we sought to advance the voluntary society. Taking what we learned from MHD, we spent a few months on logistics for our next tour. This time, over 30 organizations such as FEE, FFF, Freedom’s Phoenix, Free Keene and Strike The Root stepped-up. We included their brands on our video intros and outros, wore their swag, adhered their graphics to MARV (a rolling billboard for liberty), distributed their materials, and more. By this time we had relocated to Keene, NH, to be involved with the growing community of doers on the ground seeking to achieve “liberty in our lifetime!” A few weeks before we hit the road we traveled to Greenfield, MA, to bail out a friend. We were filming, as we often do, which eventually led to us being kidnapped and caged by aggressors wearing badges. Together we were threatened with three felonies and five misdemeanors. After over a year of legal hoops – we had a trial. By that time, only three charges remained (including the wiretapping). We represented ourselves (though the judge assigned us lawyers over our objections) and communicated that it wasn’t us but those wearing badges that were the criminals. People were supportive and emboldened to stand up for their own rights. The jury found us not guilty. When the jurors left, they received a standing ovation from those present to support us.
We completed another cross-country tour – 13 cities in 13 weeks that departed from Keene and ended in Miami, complete with more unfounded arrests – and this past summer (2011) did a shorter tour focused mostly on the growing liberty community in New Hampshire. My experiences in these roles only further strengthen my belief in and advocacy for consensual interactions.
Right now, I’m brainstorming with Ademo about future plans for Cop Block and Liberty On Tour. The former has had enormous traction due to its decentralized nature and the sheer number of people whose rights have been violated by those wearing badges, so it’s likely we’ll focus efforts on that front.
The ideas of liberty and of voluntaryism specifically have made me a better person. Most individuals mean well, but they’ve only been exposed to the misinformation peddled in gun-run schools and by the mainstream media, which communicate that it’s ok for people working for the government to do things that would be wrong for others to do. Introduction to the ideas of self-ownership, one mind at a time, can only encourage the peaceful evolution toward a more free and prosperous society. And oh yeah – that American flag tattoo is now covered by a big circle-A, which has been an excellent conversation starter about my journey, and the ideas of liberty.
My Journey To Embracing Freedom in All Issues At All Times
I’m often asked, “How did you become a libertarian?” Because I believe it is important to humanize the face of libertarians so that they and the views they espouse cannot be dismissed on a whim by statements like, “You don’t care about people,” I will (hopefully) give a relatively-quick and entertaining overview of my journey.
While I cannot point to one specific date or event that turned me on to ideas, I do know that I always had some strong motivations, such as a thirst for knowledge and self-discipline. I remember one of my favorite books that my folks gave me when I was a kid was called, Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise, which helped spark my interest in questioning why the world works as it does.
When I was in high school classes were easy enough, but let’s just say my questioning of authority came out in force. Though I am tempted to move on, I think it’s worth emphasizing that my encounters with school bureaucrats caused me to question the system that I was supposed to seed authority to based on their demand. I still recall with relish the first time my folks backed me up in one of my “disagreements” with school officials (which instilled in me that when people are not complacent, reason can prevail over the status quo).
My first semester of undergrad was spent at the University of MN, where, among other organizations, I went to some College Republicans meetings. For those of you who just thought, “Eww!,” remember Axl’s call for “a little patience.” Apart from a memorable speaker from FL who had been instrumental in pushing through their right to carry law, their other activities did not appeal to me. I did not particularly care for promoting candidates with I whom I disagreed on numerous issues. My quest continued…
After looking ahead at all the math required for civil engineering (not my comparative advantage) I soon transferred to MN State University, Mankato and decided to major in law enforcement (LE). One of the requirements for LE was to take a class in Ethnic Studies (ES), under the auspices that cops should have more familiarity with different communities. It was these two programs and my own personal reading that laid the foundation for my libertarianism.
In the mandatory ES class, I was captivated by the history of oppression suffered by numerous groups through the actions of Congress and other governmental bodies. I decided to double major in LE and ES (which I learned was the first such combination at my school). In my ES classes, I found I was often the lone voice calling for less government. When confronting, say, racism, most of my classmates looked to the government as savior, which they thought could legislate the problem away, while I, on the other hand, saw that group A was only being denied their rights because group B was working through the government to restrict them, whether out of xenophobia, protectionism or any other rationale.
Later, when I had a more firm grasp on economics, I was able to take the lessons that had become clear to me in my ES classes; that big government allows for the restriction of rights. In economics, big government allows companies to rent-seek, to basically protect themselves from competition, which hurts consumers and entrepreneurs alike. (See, libertarians are not lap-dogs for big business, but rather than point the finger at a Haliburton we would say that the company is only acting under the incentives created by the government. The solution is not to deal retroactively with each misdeed but to be proactive and shrink the State.)
On to the LE portion of my undergrad. Those who seek to become a licensed Peace Officer (doublespeak anyone?) in MN are required to take a 1.000-question psych test called the MMPI. Though even as a freshman I was already considering moving away from the semi-socialist North Star State, I decided to take it just in case I stayed. My results? That I trusted people and questioned authority — not quite the typical attributes for a cop. But, I decided to continue on, doing countless ride-alongs with many jurisdictions and an internship with the St. Paul PD.
I was also getting a Sociology minor, and in my Law & Chemical Dependency class, one of the assigned books was Judge James P. Gray’s Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About Them. Though I was already strongly opposed to drug prohibition, this book provided me with a one-stop shop for all the reasons our drug policies were flawed. I was hooked. I devoured all drug-related books I could get my hands on. I started to question if I wanted to be another cog in the machine. At my internship with St. Paul, after I had accompanied a dozen officers on buy-busts, I asked the officers, “Was it worth it?” and was told, “Don’t think about it that way,” and “It’s just part of the job.” Even when I asked some of the brightest members of LE organizations I was in, some stated that drug prohibition was “job security.” That may be true, but the same could have been said by members of the Totenkopfverbande…
With graduation fast approaching I took the recommendation of some professors whose opinions I respected and decided to go to grad school. I initially sought out a MA in drug policy, though, despite my research I could find no such program. I even sent an email to Drug Policy Alliance head Ethan Nadelmann, and though some of his acquaintances, who were teaching at universities across the globe, let me know their programs had a course or two on the issue, the subject was just too specialized. (Though check out this link from an email I just got yesterday!)
I decided to continue on my LE route. I thought maybe I could work my way up the ladder and then change departmental policies that violated people’s rights (as I had become an outspoken critic of victimless crimes). Based on the excellent reputation of the program and the fact that I landed a Graduate Assistantship, I decided to head down to Western Illinois University (WIU).
One day when in line getting food, a girl (and soon friend) named Jamie asked me about my “No More Drug War” t-shirt. I had on. She soon brought me into the fold of WIU’s College Libertarians. Though the meetings, run expertly by my bud Kevin and our faculty advisor Dr. Chacksfield., were only scheduled to last an hour or so, we often discussed issues late into the night – something my friend Erica dubbed “mind sex” due to the stimulation. I think it would do it injustice to refer to it in any other way.
Through our informal discussions that pushed me to apply my beliefs in one area (such as prostitution) across the board (to areas such as government schools), our debates (and beat-down) of other campus political groups, and my continued reading, I soon came to fully appreciate the principled stance of libertarianism.
Being proactive, I wanted to secure a job prior to graduating. I tested with Seattle PD, who had come to Minneapolis to recruit. I later found out I was at the head of their applicant pool. I went out to NYC and took the written test and did awesome (though I was told by NYC cops I struck up conversations with, “You don’t want to be a cop here”). And I tested with the LAPD, including a 1.000-question psych test similar to the one I had taken over four years previously in MN. The results were the same.
I never entered the field of law enforcement, in part due to my disillusionment with drug prohibition, the bureaucracy, and the corruption, but also because I knew I could have a bigger impact on the outside. (Fortunately today, an excellent organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition exists, which is made up of current and former cops and prosecutors etc., who believe that drug prohibition is causing more harm than the drugs themselves.)
Initially I had a job lined up with a private surveillance company. I would have made decent coin and had a company car, but fortunately I received an email before my start day that took be down a completely different path.
I was accepted at the Cato Institute as an intern, where I was exposed to some of the most brilliant minds working on cutting edge research and policy proposals. After my stint at Cato, I was accepted into the Koch Summer Fellow Program, which is a 10-week long summer policy internship ran by the Institute for Humane Studies. My internship location? The Drug Policy Alliance. At the conclusion of the summer I was fortunate to be brought aboard the staff at I.H.S., and it still boggles my mind that I get paid for doing what I do.
Hopefully this story helped shed some light on my journey, in which I cut through a jungle of misinformation and propaganda and discovered a treasure: a principled framework that maximizes freedom and prosperity. If you need a tour-guide, please let me know!
I’ll soon be kicking-off The Cop Block Tour – connecting with Copblockers and like-minded individuals in a number of cities in an effort to advance the police accountability movement. Ideas have consequences and I truly believe that through the introduction and incorporation of better ideas, we can quite literally, change the world.
Here’s the current overview from CopBlock.org/Tour:
Kicking-off from Keene, NH in mid-January and ending a month and almost 4,000-miles later at the Liberty Forum in Nashua, NH, The Cop Block Tour seeks to facilitate local, on-the-ground connections, brainstorming and the sharing ideas and tactics, and collaboration, to grow and make more effective efforts for police accountability.
- To view and RSVP for tour stops, check out: Facebook.com/CopBlock/Events
- Donations, to help offset fuel costs and to provide resources to Copblockers, are much appreciated: CopBlock.org/Donate
My ultimate motivation to to live in a society free from the scourge of institutionalized violence. Most of us recognize that the theft of property or the attempt to coerce another person is wrong, yet many still don’t question the foundation upon which policing today is based – a claimed “legitimate” right to initiate force.
The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime. - Max Stirner
Through The Cop Block Tour, I hope to connect with individuals who recognize that the emerging police state we see isn’t the best way to achieve the stated desired conclusion – safety, security, freedom, peace, prosperity. The current means can never achieve those goals. But a different means can.
If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.
- Carl Watner
Police today claim to protect you, but then paradoxically demand the right to steal wealth you’ve created to fund their operations. And they claim such doublespeak fictions as “sovereign immunity” and “acting under color of law” to eliminate repercussions to their negative actions. When any double-standard is allowed for it can only worsen in size and scope. For more on this front watch the video Want to End Police Brutality? Focus on the Institution and the resources at CopBlock.org/Knowledge and CopBlock.org/WelcomeLEOs.
While I will churn out some polished videos when on the road, due to the quick pace of the tour, it’s likely that most of the over-arching, high-caliber content will be released afterwards. However, during the next month, I plan to upload raw content from each stop to city-specific playlists at the newly-created YouTube.com/CopBlockRaw so it can be viewed and utilized by others in the meantime.
Some background about myself – I went to school for law enforcement, worked in DC’s libertarian think tank world for four years, then hit the road with Motorhome Diaries then Liberty On Tour, and am now most-active with Cop Block, as I see the need for a complete liberty voice in the conversation of police accountability. That is, the fact that badges don’t grant extra rights, where we’re all free to act so long as we don’t initiate violence. For more, check out all my posts made to CopBlock.org.
Note too that it’s not just be behind this effort – many others helped lay the groundwork and are contributing behind the scenes. Much love to them!
Freedom is the emancipation from the arbitrary rule of other men.
- Mortimer Adler
It’s about freedom coupled with responsibility. Despite talking a good game – the “freedom” we’re said to have is usurped by those who claim to be “authorities” while such folks shirk their own responsibility for actions that cause real harm. The Cop Block Tour seeks to be a catalyst to bring-about real connections so that one day, the need for this project becomes non-existent.
I look forward to connecting with many of y’all awesome folks when out on the road!
This video, published in January 2013, provides background about CopBlock.org and identifies three areas, including a short tour, that are thought to be an effective use of resources to advance the fact that badges don’t grant extra rights.
Earlier today I received from an anonymous source audio from the Sept. 11th, 2012 shooting of Jeffrey Weinhaus by two Missouri State Highway Patrol employees.
For all related information see the meta-post: CopBlock.org/JeffreyWeinhaus
Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop I (the outfit where the shooter(s) are employed): (573) 368-2345
Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C (the outfit investigating the actions of their colleagues down the road): (636) 300-2800
If you’re in central Missouri:
- Connect with Central Missouri Cop Block: https://www.facebook.com/CentralMissouriCopblock
- Join us at the Central Missouri stop of the Cop Block Tour on Feb. 5th: https://www.facebook.com/events/196403167166026
Creating primer resources for active groups, ensuring a couple key components are covered, and funding for a month-long mini-tour are the three areas outlined in the video (script below) that I think will be good investments to increase Cop Block’s impact.
Interested and able to help? Please visit: CopBlock.org/Donate
Any coin is much-appreciated, though reoccurring donations will help provide us with a bit more stability so we can budget accordingly.
Setting-up reoccurring donations is easy. When at CopBlock.org/Donate, simply input the amount you want to donate (in this example I used 10FRNs) and click the green “Donate” button.
Then, on the next screen, select the frequency desired (in this example I choose “monthly”).
If you want to help fund one of the specific areas outlined in the video, just click the text “Include a message with your payment” and in the text field box that then appears, type the associated term(s).
In this example I keyed “key components.” If you identify more than one area, your donation will be split equally among them.
All donations received without a comment noting a desired earmark will be used to fulfill the asks given in the video (resources for groups, key components, short tour). If donations above that amount are received, they’ll be used in other ways to advance Cop Block’s mission.
When I get a better idea of the coin raised for the short tour I’ll post my intended route and will work to connect with Copblockers.
Script from Video
If you watch the mainstream news or listen only to those who claim the right to control your life, it’s very likely that you have a pretty bleak outlook on the world today.
But recognize that such a reality – the belief that you yourself, can’t possibly hope to address those problems, as they’re so overwhelming – is the very paradigm being pushed by those attempting to usurp your rights.
Uncertainty and fear are peddled to gain your acquiescence.
Their very existence and the scope of their actions are directly contingent on the authority you grant them.
Fortunately many individuals are thinking for themselves.
They realize that though they’re rightfully disillusioned, there must be a better alternative.
If you’re watching this video, it’s likely you’re already familiar with Cop Block.
If not, I encourage you to check out Cop Block’s About page, but briefly, Cop Block is a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goal of police accountability.
We do not hate cops. We believe that no one – not even those with badges – has extra rights.
We live by that fact and seek to share it with others. Both to safeguard our rights and those of future generations.
We choose to focus on police, because they are quite literally, the teeth, or enforcers of the State.
In fact, police claim a “right” to initiate force.
It is that institutionalized violence that is the issue.
Cop Block was founded three years ago this month.
In that time, the project has grown from a Tumblr site, to a group blog, to its current iteration, as a heavily-trafficked resource.
It’s clear we’re having an impact. But I know we can do more.
That’s the purpose of this video. To help get from here to there.
Over the next few minutes I’m going to share some thoughts and ask for your help, so that we can make more likely a reality where the institutionalized violence we see today is replaced by peaceful coexistence.
My hope is for us to so thoroughly change the conversation about policing, that the need for Cop Block becomes obsolete.
I brainstormed components and tactics we could add or grow, and I incorporated feedback received from Copblockers.
What is certain is that a handful of folks can’t do it all.
Key is decentralization and a consistent message.
I identified three areas that I consider low-hanging fruit, and that I think would offer a good return-on-investment, should you have the interest and ability to help defray costs
Firstly, resources for local groups
We house at CopBlock.org/Groups all known contact info for offshoots as well as allies.
This graphic shows the increased number of local groups, from the fall of 2012, until now.
How did this happened?
We’ve created content, such as the /startagroup document, to help lessen the hurdle for proactive Copblockers, who then plant a flag and connect with those in their area to make a difference on the ground.
We’ve created print-ready flyers to help make it easier to share ideas, made available through our store an inexpensive 200-piece literature pack, and make ourselves available to brainstorm and work together where it makes sense.
Just imagine how different – for the better – things will be when the simple act of making transparent the actions of aggressors becomes the norm.
I’m asking for your help to provide active Copblockers with resources, so that they can do more.
Your reoccurring donation, or one-time donation, earmarked for resources, will be used to have created primer resources, like know your rights documents and videos, and crowdsourceable resources, like print-ready flyers, graphics, a better smartphone app, and to provide literature to active groups.
I hope and think a goal of getting 100FRNs donated per month for resources is obtainable.
And if it the coin is there and it makes sense, one idea is to solicit proposals from groups on how they’d utilize it to have an impact in their area, then put the proposals to a vote on CopBlock.org and allow Copblockers to decide which group to award the coin. Think of it as an X-Prize of sorts for police accountablity.
Secondly, compensation for key components
Cop Block is decentralized. We solicit submissions from those who’ve experienced, witnessed, or have commentary about, police interactions.
There’s not a lack of such content.
Thus far we’ve received over 2,000 submissions.
The editing and scheduling of these submissions has for most of Cop Blocks existence, been done by a volunteer, or a group of volunteers.
But more-recently I started compensating another Copblocker, to the tune of 150FRNs a month, or about five bucks a day, to tackle this integral task.
Ideally, it’d be great if this cost could be covered by folks who appreciate the work, and who have deeper pockets than do I.
In addition to the editor, another vital component I hope to have better-funded is our IT, which is quite literally the backbone of our operations.
Specifically, the hosting that’s provided by Liberty Web Alliance.
Last year CopBlock.org was taken offline by repeated DoS attacks.
A small team of tech-savvy friends hardened the site, and moved it, as well as local cop block offshoots also based on WordPress, to a dedicated server.
That provided much stability.
Yet recent site-related issues have again necessitated the need to step-up our IT, and with that, comes costs, about 200FRNs a month.
So, for these two key components – editing and scheduling submissions, and IT – I’m hoping we can get reoccurring donations earmarked for key components, at 350FRNs per month.
Thirdly, funding for more in-person collaboration
The Internet has undoubtedly been instrumental for the sharing of ideas that now seem so basic
It’s facilitated connections that ignore arbitrary political boundaries and underscore that we’re not alone, which can only empower others to get involved.
And it’s allowed us to bypass completely those who historically have censored the free flow of information.
Yet not to be discounted is in-person communication, which is unparalleled in its qualitative impact.
Prior to focusing on Cop Block, I spent time criss-crossing the states in MARV, the Mobile Authority Resistance Vehicle, with Motorhome Diaries and Liberty on Tour.
Ademo Freeman, who founded Cop Block, was involved in both as well.
When on the road we created hundreds of videos and interacted with thousands of people – including some who’ve since founded Cop Block offshoots.
This past summer I raffled-off MARV and reinvested the coin into my current vehicle – a 1996 turbo diesel Tahoe.
In mid-January I plan to leave the ‘shire and roll to North Carolina to pick-up my motorcycle.
Instead of just rolling down and back, over a couple of days, I plan to, over the course of a month, meet with Copblockers from the eastern seaboard, Midwest and Rust Belt, especially those who have founded groups, so that we can brainstorm, share ideas, hit the streets, and generate content.
This past August when traveling to visit family and friends, I was able to get-together with the founders of Ohio Cop Block and Minnesota Cop Block.
It was clear that our interaction was of much value, to all involved.
I’m hoping you can help defray my fuel costs, to make this short jaunt more realistic.
This one-month jaunt I’m proposing, which will end in late February in Nashua, NH at Liberty Forum, where I’m slated to speak about Cop Block, will be a good way to prove the effectiveness of this outreach tactic on a smaller scale, and make more realistic a future, longer tour, that could incorporate outreach at colleges, know your rights trainings, and Copblocking.
Coin donated and earmarked for “Tour” will be used to help make this possible.
Fuel costs, which I estimate will be about a grand, will be my biggest expense. Any additional monies received will be used to provide resources to Copblockers met.
So to summarize, if you find any of these three areas compelling – groups, key components, or a short tour – and can help make them happen, that’d be much appreciated.
Any other donations made to Cop Block will be used to do outreach to current law enforcement employees, to compensate Copblockers for creating graphics, for video contests, and much more.
CopBlock uses WePay and Bitcoin.
Thanks for your time. And if you’re not able to donate coin, it’s all good – we appreciate link love and even better, learning of your own peaceful, proactive efforts to cause those around you to think.
Remember, decentralizing is key, feel free to implement any ideas you have.
All content or graphics you see generated by Cop Block are free for you to use or modify.
And I’m always down to brainstorm – just shoot me an email at email@example.com