Entries Tagged 'Copwatch in the News' ↓
March 2nd, 2013 — Berkeley, Berkeley PD, Copwatch in the News, Excessive Force, Mental Illness, Police Violence and Killings, Racism
Groups from across Berkeley came together on Thursday morning for a press conference following the death of a woman in police custody to raise questions about police practices, including deadly violence, and the secrecy that shields these actions from public scrutiny. Community members spoke out against police responses to mental illness crises and police violence against transgender people. A People’s Investigation is underway to break the silence, and examine the convergences that led to her death in her own apartment, surrounded by a sizable police force. What happened to Ms. Moore after police arrived for a mental health call? Why did she stop breathing? And if there is something predictable about who dies–disproportionately people of color–when police come to the door, how can the People’s Investigation launched from and by the community help us find answers and fight back together?
In remembering Ms. Xavier Moore, we also remember others–among them, Peter Stewart, killed by police responding to a mental health crisis on the Hoopa Reservation in June of 2007.
For Press Conference coverage, see KTVU:
September 16th, 2012 — Copwatch in the News, Police Violence and Killings, Racism
There’s been a lot of organizing in Vallejo following the horrifically violent murder of Mario Romero by the Vallejo Police Department on September 2, 2012. Mario Romero was sitting in his car in front of his home with his brother-in-law when police opened fire on both men. Over 30 rounds were fired into the car, and Mario’s sister, Cynquita, saw the killing unfold. Their brother in law, who was protected by Mario’s body, lived through the barrage. The family of Mario and the community around them has refused to take this quietly.
There have been rallies, marches, community meetings, and press conferences. In the latest of an ongoing series of responses to this violence, the Reverend Floyd D. Harris, Jr., president of the National Network in Action, invited Berkeley Copwatch to Vallejo on Saturday, September 15th, 2012 to present a Know Your Rights Training, to discuss ways to document police activity and organize against police violence, and to meet with Vallejo civilians to discuss the role of police in all of our communities. We met at the Vallejo Police Station, and then moved to the park in the afternoon sunlight.
There was an impressive community presence: long time and senior members of the Vallejo community, including Native American activist and allies, young people and mothers, families who have also lost loved ones to the police, including the family of Guy Jarreau, Jr. (killed by police on December 11, 2012) and vibrant children everywhere. Among these gathered was Mario’s family. It is difficult to put words to how the Romero family showed up there. In numbers alone, they are a presence. But it is something beyond this that affirms the family as something to reckon with, a force. They were massively pulled together and sharp and strong. They bore witness to the violence as a family.
We offer, again, our immense solidarity with this family, and our sadness with their loss.
There are stories in Vallejo about the police that are disturbing, and that echo stories from Oakland to Anaheim, and towns across California. There is the unrelenting killings of black and brown men that rise weekly in this state. There is the immediate and sprawling devastation that is wreaked on families and friends, on the circles and layers of communities affected by each police killing. And other stories emerge–the chilling details that speak to neighborhoods terrorized by police: where cops practice “predatory policing” (in these cases, specific people or families remain targets for years, even generations); where cops repetitively shine lights into the same people’s living rooms night after night; where cop cars roll up on innocent civilians with their lights off, or plain clothes cops crash a scene without uniforms, and violence follows; where violence by cops is investigated internally, by the cops themselves; where ambulances don’t arrive for extended periods after a police shooting, no matter how close the hospitals are; where cops make a traffic stop and the first question they ask the driver is, “Where’d you get this car?”
Everyone there knows the figures: Mario’s killing was the seventh police shooting since May of this year in Vallejo, five of these were deadly. To be clear: Five people have been killed by police in Vallejo since May of this year. Vallejo has a population of roughly 117,000, with a per capita income of $26,000 and an unemployment rate from two years ago at 15.8%. People are being killed in front of their homes in Vallejo, and the community has no access to the names of officers who have used deadly force against their community in the past and who remain on the force. Even in cases where they may have fired, say, 30 rounds into a car. And, as is far too common in cases of police murders, families have difficulty accessing the autopsy reports. And, as in the recent incident, when families and friends and others in solidarity and anger organize rallies that demand answers, the Chief of Police won’t come out to meet them and address their concerns.
We saw a lot of homemade buttons with Mario’s pictures on them, commemorating his life cut short. We saw Guy Jarreau Jr.’s family wearing t-shirts with the date and street names of the intersection of Guy’s murder remembered on the front of the shirt, and a picture of Guy. We waited to start the training because the family was holding a car wash to raise funds for the funeral.
Berkeley Copwatch stands with the family of Mario Romero, Guy Jarreau Jr., and all the other people shot by police in Vallejo. In these struggles for justice and safety, we remain committed to offer whatever solidarity, training, and resources we can to support Vallejo Copwatch and other police accountability initiatives.
In Vallejo, as in Oakland, Berkeley and across California, we need transparency into police behavior that cannot be achieved as long as Copley, the Police Bill of Rights, and the Caloca Boards are in place to protect police behavior from public scrutiny. It is from this reality that the task of patient documenting of police behavior becomes a critical aspect of a larger struggle to redefine community safety, combined with gathering together to share what we have seen, what we know. These gatherings are inspiring, and in these spaces, we find each other to fight back.
Watch this interview with Mario’s sister Cynquita to see some of what is going on in Vallejo:
For local coverage of the recent Berkeley Copwatch training, see
Check this out for a personal account of Guy Jarreau Jr.’s murder by his brother Joshua Henry:
June 27th, 2012 — Berkeley, Berkeley PD, Copwatch in the News, Militarization, Mutual Aid, Police State, UC Police
Apparently, the City Council isn’t happy with the BPD, but is the Bearcat already on its way? We’re not just upset about militarization and police department secrets, we don’t want it here:
November 6th, 2011 — Copwatch in the News, Recording police, Rights
From The Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle:
October 17, 2011
The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris on Friday ordered French Internet service providers to block access to Copwatch Nord Paris I-D-F, a website designed to allow civilians to post videos of alleged police misconduct. The decision was applauded by the police union, Alliance Police Nationale (APN), which argued that the website incited violence against police. Jean-Claude Delage, secretary general of the APN, said that “[t]he judges have analyzed the situation perfectly—this site being a threat to the integrity of the police — and made the right decision.” Opponents of Internet censorship were also quick to comment on the judgment. Jeremie Zimmermann, spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based net neutrality organization, called the order “an obvious will by the French government to control and censor citizens’ new online public sphere.” The site was ordered to be blocked immediately.France does not have an equivalent to the US First Amendment [text], which prohibits the government from making any law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” In August, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that there is a clearly-established First Amendment right to film police officers performing their duties in a public space. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that concerned individuals and cop-watch groups have a right to record the activity of police in the public. The case stems from a 2007 incident when police officers arrested Simon Gilk after he openly recorded three police officers arresting a suspect on the Boston Common.
April 14th, 2011 — Berkeley, Berkeley PD, Berkeley Police Review Commission, Copwatch in the News, Mutual Aid, Public Records Act, Rights, UC Police
“The complaint was brought to the commission by Berkeley Copwatch member Andrea Prichett, who said at the meeting that she was concerned with the department’s possible use of pepper spray and less lethal munitions at the March 3 protest. Prichett also requested in her complaint that the commission review the mutual aid agreement between the Berkeley police and UCPD.”
See the full article from Thursday, April 14th by Sarah Burns for The Daily Californian at:
March 26th, 2011 — Copwatch in the News, Recording police, Rights
from wtnh in New Haven, Connecticut:
“A bill before the Connecticut General Assembly would allow people to sue a police officer who tries to stop them from taking photographs or taping that officer working in the line of duty, such as making an arrest.”
In the video from Wednesday, March 23rd, watch for Mario Cerame, a strong ally in the struggle for police accountability, who has worked, with others, to bring this bill before the Assembly.
March 26th, 2011 — Berkeley PD, Berkeley Police Review Commission, Copwatch in the News, UC Occupations, UC Police
News on last Wednesday’s Police Review Commission meeting, where Berkeley Copwatch members, including Andrea and Russ, spoke to issues of concern.
From Ali Winston at The Informant
February 23rd, 2011 — Copwatch in the News, Recording police, Rights
February 22, 2011
On January 25th, 2011 Berkeley Copwatch helped to file an amicus brief in Glik v. Cunniffe, et al. – a case in the US First Circuit Court of Appeals defending our right to record police as they conduct their duties in public.
In recent years, footage of police violence and misconduct has catalyzed social movement across the United States. The recording of Los Angeles Police beating Rodney King in 1991 ushered in a new wave of public scrutiny around police brutality and accountability. The caught-on-tape murder of Oscar Grant helped the public readdress these issues. Both cases revealed the power of recording technology in the hands and eyes of the people.
Against the backdrop of these monumental cases is persistent police monitoring of local groups and civilians who use grassroots organization to establish means to hold the police accountable. Law enforcement officers and police departments across the US, in cooperation with the courts, are responding to public scrutiny with harassment and repression. It is in this context that the amicus brief for Glik v. Cunniffe, et al. , a case of First Amendment rights and their necessary protection was filed by local groups across the nation and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Plaintiff-Appellee (and lawyer) Simon Glik was arrested in 2007 by the Boston Police Department (BPD) while filming an arrest with his cell phone. The charges were later dropped but Glik filed a lawsuit against the officers involved as well as the BPD and won in district court. The case is now in the First Circuit federal court of appeals where our collective amicus asserts that, “the right to photograph police activity in public places is a grassroots accountability mechanism [that] helps foster greater involvement and trust by the community in local law enforcement” (Glik, p. 9).
Battles in the field of civil liberties over the right to record are being fought across the US on a state-by-state basis and constitutional rights groups, community organizers, students, lawyers, and police departments, are watching these battles closely. Twelve states now have legislation to restrict people’s right to monitor police, mostly relying on wiretapping statutes or two-party consent laws to ban recording of police conduct in the streets, as well as at protests and parties, on highways and in parks. In other states police create a hostile environment by arresting, detaining, or threatening civilian witnessing through bogus charges including trespassing, loitering, obstructing justice or interfering with arrests. In some cases, the punitive retaliation is extreme, with citizens who record public officials facing sentences of up to 75 years. Homeland Security measures are often cited as justification for these arrests while – paradoxically – video surveillance of citizens under Homeland Security becomes ever more pervasive and intrusive.
Police monitoring groups and citizens continue to fight back. The ACLU in Pennsylvania reached a settlement with the East Vincent and Spring City police departments to adopt a written policy and require officer training to insure citizens’ right to record police under the First Amendment. Atlanta Police recently affirmed the people’s right-to-record thanks to the dedicated work of East Atlanta Copwatch. Berkeley Copwatch and other direct monitoring and police accountability groups continue to patrol the streets and develop effective community databases to deter abuse, hold individual officers and departments accountable, to impact practices and policies, and to work together to help empower our communities.
Other groups in the Glik brief included Communities United Against Police Brutality (Minnesota), Justice Committee (New York, New York), Milwaukee Police Accountability Coalition (Wisconsin), Nodutdol for Korean Community Development (New York, New York) and Portland Copwatch (Oregon). Several of the groups offered declarations, including a founding member of Berkeley Copwatch, Andrea Prichett.
We wish to thank the Center for Constitutional Rights – and all communities and individuals – for standing up to police misconduct and violence. Please see our website (www.BerkeleyCopwatch.org) under “Resources” for the full text of the Glik brief.
Berkeley Copwatch has been organizing street patrols and community outreach events for over 20 years. See our website for details on upcoming Know Your Rights Trainings or write to us at Berkeleycopwatch@yahoo.com. You can always drop by the office on Fridays between 2 and 7 at The Grassroots House, 2022 Blake Street, in Berkeley.
February 18th, 2011 — Copwatch in the News, Events, Recording police, Rights
The highest concentrated poverty in the United States exists in Fresno. A diverse group gathered recently to discuss how to deal with police brutality that arises from the armed and often violent enforcement of class.
Fresno seemed like just another unknown far-off land to a southbound Toyota minivan full of Berkeley Copwatchers. But upon arrival to a reserved room in the Fresno Public Library, citizens and local activists gave these Berkeley-ites a taste of life in the Valley.
So it was: A six-hour-long Know Your Rights training in a windowless room on Saturday January 15, 2011.
The Fresno Brown Berets teamed up with longtime activist Gloria Hernandez to host Berkeley Copwatch for a mutual exchange of knowledge, experience, and to help us all realize that the copwatching community is far bigger than it might appear.
The highest concentrated poverty in the United States exists in Fresno. Permanent Gang Injunctions have already gone into effect. Between 2002 and 2009 Fresno had 27 police officers involved in repeat shootings of unarmed civilians with no disciplinary action taken against the shooters. Most of them are still on duty.
The cases of police misconduct that were shared throughout the day were some of the worst to reach my ears (but I’m a spring chicken in the Copwatching world). By the end of the training, however, all questions had received answers and everyone seemed comfortable with how to assert their rights. In fact, most of the answers to questions from the audience came from within the audience. Imagine a group – teens, grandmas, families, white, black, brown, Christian, Muslim, Native, male, female, whatever – all rising from their seats, ready to reenter the world outside of Know Your Rights but with their rights in mind, invigorated to empower themselves in the face of perpetual police brutality that Fresno sees more often than most. Everyone knew that to even begin to hold the police accountable community-members have to help spread a changing consciousness around policing. A consciousness that manifests itself in people watching what happens to their neighbors – in their streets – by armed Peace Officers who come from places outside of the local community.
And Fresno Police know about Copwatch. They see that an increasing number of people are watching them and it affects how they treat the public. After the training, later in the night, Fresno Copwatchers took the Berkeley folks out through their streets on just another weekend shift. One group of five Copwatchers documented Fresno Police towing a car because the driver had a suspended license. Another group of six happened to show up at the scene, honestly surprising the two officers on duty. In fact, these officers were caught so off guard by the herd of copwatchers that they called in their Sergeant to answer the copwatchers questions. This Sergeant could not provide any legal justification for why this car was searched and towed only because its driver had a suspended license.
So on it goes: increasingly popular, diverse, and non-violent engagement around police monitoring to send a moral reminder about who these Peace Officers are supposed to be working for.
February 13th, 2011 — Copwatch in the News, Recording police, Rights
In response to the continuing work of East Atlanta Copwatch, the Atlanta Police Department affirms citizen’s rights to record in public. The APD plans to adopt an operating procedure that will prohibit officers from restricting or interfering with direct video monitoring. Way to go East Atlanta Copwatch!
(Berkeley Copwatch is cited in article too)
Article by Bill Rankin in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution