Help WeCopwatch Go Further

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In 2015 WeCopwatch deployed on atleast 20 out of state missions ranging from Oakland, St. Louis/Ferguson, Baltimore, North Charleston, NYC, Chicago and Detroit.

It should be known that WeCopwatch receives no formal funding, but rather has been able to travel due to a few donations, and money contributed from it’s internal membership.

It’s 2016. We’ve already deployed to NYC, Baltimore, and Austin.

In NYC we interacted with a lot of our Copwatch constituents and trained with WITNESS on video evidence collection

In Austin we deployed to engage in a week long Copwatch operation that included nightly shifts, and several Copwatch College sessions.

In Baltimore we deployed to support some Copwatchers we work with who had been arrested while copwatching.

These journeys often come at great cost to our pockets and our bodies. If we fly, we risk spending heavy out of pocket. If we drive, we wear out our bodies and lose time.

We’ve come to the conclusion that are best option for missions and rapid deployment are to travel by air. Multiple times over the years people have approached us with frequent flyer miles and so we have decided to reach out to the public and see what’s out there.

If you have miles, and you believe in the work that we do locally, and around the country, consider donating some our way. We generally find ourselves needed to get somewhere every month or so and if we had our flights covered, it would really make what little money we do have be better applied to the Copwatch work we do day in and day out.
Give us a holler. WeCopwatch@gmail.com

The STL First Responders

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The STL First Responders
A project of the Canfield Watchmen and WeCopwatch.

What do we do when the police shoot someone in our community?
In Oakland California, a coalition under the Anti Police Terror Project have been deploying to the locations of shooting to conduct independent investigations.

Here in St. Louis, we have begun to do the same. . .

The Function
First Responders are a coalition of people trained and dedicated to responding to police shootings and other high profile incidents involving police with the intentions of collecting evidence, identifying witness, and conducting independent investigations.

The Purpose
Within 24 hours of a police shooting, “official statements” are almost always released to justify the officer’s use of force. These narratives are often disseminated to convey an officer in fear for their safety, and to demonize and criminalize the person shot. These “official statements” often change in the falling months as more accurate information surfaces. But by then it is too little, too late.

Deploying first responders after a police shooting allows concerned citizens to challenge and scrutinize the police narrative, encouraging police investigators to do more honest and transparent investigations.

When deployed to a shooting, First responders wear many hats.
1. They are collecting information and evidence to contrast and challenge the “official narrative.”
2. They are documenting evidence that can be used for records requests, independent investigations, and to help in criminal and civil cases.
3. They locate witnesses and help link them to lawyers so they are protected from police retaliation.
4. They pass out information to recruit more first responders and to educate people about the dangers of talking to the police and the media.

The Roles
There are four different groupings of people who can be essential in a First Responder Network, and they often overlap and are not mutually exclusive.
1. The local community
2. The activist community
3. Lawyers
4. Journalists

First Responder deployment
When responding to a police shooting, people are often walking into chaotic, traumatic events. It is crucial to have people from the local community to lead in these deployments. It is also helpful to have activists and journalists to follow their lead and assist in helping where they can with documentation and evidence collecting. It’s also crucial to have a lawyer on the scene who can immediately connect with the family and with witnesses.

The Investigation
When conducting an independent investigation it is important to involve the people who were First Responders to the incident. It is also helpful to have lawyers and journalists who specialize in investigations and in requesting/demanding information. Activists and advocates can also play a helpful role in using the case and information collected to advocate for justice and more lasting change.

Training
Another aspect of building an effective coalition of First Responders is providing trainings to build capacity. Trainings include

  1. Evidence Collecting
  2. Filming crime scenes
  3. Supporting people dealing with trauma
  4. Interviewing witnesses
  5. Filing records requests, preservation letters, discovery
  6. Authenticating video and photos
  7. Releasing findings and investigations

Spring is near. Are you interested in becoming a first responder in the St. Louis area?
Contact us at WeCopwatch@gmail.com or get in touch with us at TheSTLFirstResponders

Busy Times

WeCopwatch has had a pretty busy year spreading the message about Copwatch.

We’ve trained hundreds of people across the country about their rights when stopped by the police and while copwatching. We’ve distributed thousands and thousands of Know Your Rights brochures to communities most impacted by police misconduct through our patrols and trainings. We’ve handed out hundreds of video cameras to people and groups across the states. We’ve also supported autonomous Copwatch Projects in Oakland, Ferguson, Baltimore, Detroit, North Charleston, and NYC.

WeCopwatch to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities, and in order for us to keep the momentum alive, we need your support. We can’t do it without you. Here are the ways you can help us out!

  1. Cameras and Equipment. Getting cameras and equipment for copwatching is a never ending priority. We fundraised for cameras for Ferguson, Baltimore, North Charleston, and Oakland this year alone.

  2. Travel and Organizational Funding. Since August of 2014, we’ve been on countless Copwatch trips and projects across the country, most of it coming out of pocket. Our projects and initiatives have been effective. We’ve want to do this full time.

We have our 501c3, a permanent space to run our projects out of, and we are currently looking for donors, sponsors, grants, and collaborations that can help us continue to spread the idea of Copwatch across the country and world.

If you want to help, or have thoughts or ideas, contact us at WeCopwatch@gmail.com, subject line: Support

Oakland Police Kill Again

Oakland has been pretty busy this year. Gentrification has provided the City and the Police with a new found sense of purpose: Protect capital, investments, and of course the massive migration of workers from San Francisco.

And the new comers are loving it. After all, they haven’t been neglected by a City that specializes in the kind of anti-blackness that displaces entire families that have been rooted in Oakland for generations. New-comers are enjoying the affordable housing, the great eateries, and the “safe spaces” that have been created for them at the expense of longtime Oakland residents. It’s also safe to say that the newer gentrifiers love the Oakland Police, and the Oakland Police love that. Being a settler never felt so safe, and being a Cop in Oakland never felt so warm and fuzzy.

But meanwhile in the streets, things are looking pretty bad. Far worse than last year to say the least. In 2015, Oakland Police have already been involved in three fatal shootings, as well as a mysterious death where a man died while trapped between two houses following a chase. The most recent killing happened on August 12, 2015, at the intersection of 27th Street and Martin Luther King Ave in West Oakland.

All we can know at this point has come from witnesses. A man was being chased by Oakland Police, crashed his car, and during a foot pursuit was shot and killed by three officers.
While information is still coming in, and Oakland Police claim he had a weapon, witnesses all say that he never brandished it at officers.

A protest was held that evening at the intersection where the man died.

memA memorial was placed where he died as well as in the middle of the intersection.

hwThe highway was temporarily shut down

Downtown experienced transformations

The march eventually ended back at the intersection where the man was killed, this time accompanied by dozens of Oakland Police Officers. .

We’ll update the post when more information comes in from sources more credible than the Oakland Police.

Police Know Their Job is a Joke. But We Don’t Think it’s Funny

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The Police Know Their Job is a Joke. But We Don’t Think it’s Very Funny
After a few years on the job most cops realize that the institution they work for is clearly as much of a problem as the people they claim to be protecting the public from. After all, locking people up for victimless crimes, and extorting poor people through citations and judicial processes inevitably creates the conditions that give cops job security.

In short, the police are proactively helping keep people in poverty which ensures they will always have a job. The reality is people who do time, and have paperwork are left with less options to succeed in this racist, capitalist power structure and even worse, when the police lock people up, they know they are separating people from their families that need them. Every petty citation for expired registration or biking without a light takes money from people who need it far more than the more affluent people that they are NOT stopping for the same “violations.”

ThisCopKnowThis Cop Knows He is Part of the Problem

But this is how policing works and they all know it. Police get paid, the city gets paid, the courts get paid, the state gets paid, and the corporations that facilitate this slave trade gets paid, all off the back of the people.
That’s why Copwatch is so important. Every time caring people stand together and watch the police, they are less likely to abuse people, and steal their money.

These days even cops are finally admitting that in the moment, Copwatch keeps them in line. To those cops we say this.

Your job shouldn’t be to stop, harass, cite, and lock people up. You are part of the problem. Many people make great cases that you are the problem.

If you are Police and you think Copwatch is so valuable then maybe you should. . .
1. Stop stopping people. Stop citing people. Stop arresting people.

2. Record and document your fellow officer’s corruption and abuse and send it to your local police accountability group.

3. When police abuse people, put your hands on them like you would any member of the public and put them in handcuffs.

4. Stop acting as if you have any special authority over people. After all if you really wanted to help people, you wouldn’t be a cop.

West Oakland Park Under Surveillance

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As gentrification places a firm grip on West Oakland, the city has been clearing public spaces of black faces by shutting down and fencing up parks once enjoyed by many. This has been achieved through heavy handed policing resulting in increased displacement of West Oakland residents, ensuring space for new outsiders.

The Filbert St. park on San Pablo and 32nd is one of the last open spaces in West Oakland that remains opened and used. These parks are often cleared and replaced with “Community Gardens” which are traditionally organized and run by gentrifiers, or they are fenced up in the name of “beatification” only to be re-opened when the surrounding neighborhood has become inhabited by a community of a higher economic bracket.

The Filbert St. park was fenced up back in late 2014, only to be torn down a day later.

But today the park has a new friend. An Oakland Police Mobile Command Center sits across the street from the park surveilling everyone and anyone in the immediate area.


Big Brother Video

Big Questions
Where are these videos being stored?
Will images of people be used to further surveil and criminalize the poor and homeless population who have nowhere else to go?
Will images of people be disseminated to patrol officers, many new to the force, eager to rise through the ranks and willing to stop many to catch just a few?

An Officer on site explained that the purpose of the surveillance vehicle was to serve as a deterrent to crime, and to function as an fully operational intelligence gathering center. He also mentioned that the command center was put in place in response to a recent murder of a young man who resided just down the block.

Failed Solutions.
WeCopwatch knew this young man, he was a sweet person, and his death came too soon.
But this kind of intelligence gathering/deterrent is disconnected, expensive, and is a poor solution.

It’s ironic that just two months prior, Oakland Police raided this young man’s residence likely with the intention of imprisoning him for a long time.
Their raid yielded nothing to speak of. Their armored vehicles and men with assault rifles and flash bangs was outrageous, unnecessary, expensive, and a poor solution.

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Imagine if the thousands spent in that raid, and these intelligence operations had been applied toward building people

up, not breaking them down.
we might be living in a different world. . .

One thing is clear, the overt surveillance being conducted is awkward, it is being conducted on longtime local residents, and is a sign that more police activity around the Filbert St. park is to follow.

This Oakland Police Killing was NOT a Standoff

Contrary to Main Stream Media headlines plastered across the internet, there was NO standoff between an unconscious man now known to be Demouria Hogg of Hayward, CA and Oakland police.

We don’t know much about the Oakland Police killing on June 6, 2015, but what we do know from a dispatch recording obtained by WeCopwatch affirms that on the morning of June 6, 2015, Oakland Police responded to reports of a man unconscious in a vehicle with “alleged” gun in the front passenger seat.

We know that Oakland Police made announcements over the span of at least an hour and fired no less than four beanbag shotgun rounds into the car where Demouria Hogg lay. None of this woke Hogg up.


Photos by WeCopwatch

We know that whatever happened that led to his death, happened very quickly.

Due to the length of time and amount of noise devices used to try to wake Hogg up, it is logical that the only way Hogg could have been woken up prior to him being shot would be by some level of force initiated by the Oakland police that were coming to take him into custody.

[The audio excerpts below obtained by We Copwatch are from Oakland Police Dispatch recording from the morning of the shooting. The recording are “edited” down to three minutes and focused only on the attempts to wake the unconscious person up, and the force used against him.]

It is important to note that there is a lot of communication relating to this incident that is not included; such as where to put responding officers and where to set up perimeters amongst other things.

The entire records can be downloaded here.

June 6 Oakland Police Shooting Dispatch Recordings


Big questions:

How did Hogg sleep through an hour of announcements and multiple beanbag rounds fired at his car only to be killed by Officers taking him into custody?

Did OPD wake Hogg up by tasering him and then shot him when he began moving abruptly from the shock?

Why didn’t OPD simply approach the car to retrieve the gun if the man was clearly non responsive to the barrage of bean bag rounds and announcements?

Why has OPD not released the body camera videos to the public? If they have nothing to hide, wouldn’t the video show why they felt justified in using lethal force over other less deadly means?

 

If you witnessed the OPD shooting death of Demouria Hogg or have information about this case please contact the Anti-Police Terror Project or We Copwatch.

Curfews, Undercovers, and Chest Cams, Oh my

1.

On June 5, 2015, Mayor Libby Schaaf’s ” protest curfew” on night time demonstrations was tested again as 100 people marched through First Friday celebrations yelling “Fuck The Curfew”.

Oakland Police cut the march off on the north and south side of the First Friday corridor, but police remained fairly hands off. The general sentiment around town is that OPD took a hands off approach because the protesters and the First Friday revelers were indistinguishable from each other and any crackdown would have made for bad press and a possible backlash from Oakland’s new coveted affluent class: the gentry.

The treatment of “Say Her Name” protesters a couple weeks back was very different. Police responded to a predominately black, woman led march by blasting “LRAD” (Long Range Acoustic Device) and throwing flash bang grenades at marchers, eventually detaining and arresting many from the demonstration.


Video Produced by WeCopwatch

Both events had heavy police presence with a zero tolerance approach to people being in the streets, but there is no question that there was a discrepancy of treatment to the different groups– largely because of who they were comprised of, and who was there to witness.

Repeat Offenders

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 3.30.21 PM Overt plain clothes cops were also spotted Friday night. Oakland police officer Omega Crum along with at least one more undercover/plain clothed cop were spotted mingling amongst protestors and spectators and when approached by Bay Area Intifada, hurriedly made his way through an OPD riot line.

[For those who don’t know, Officer Crum was also documented by different Copwatchers on Mayday in 2013 where he was spotted following and photographing a Muslim contingent within the march. Video of this encounter can be seen here: Pigs Are Haram ]


Video Produced by WeCopwatch and Bay Area Intifada

Many officers from different ranks were spotted without their body cameras (PDRd’s)– which is against protocol.

One officer in particular, Officer Ocampo, was spotted for the second time without a PDRD within the last two months.

Ocampo can been seen in the video below assisting US Marshals in an arrest in West Oakland without his body camera.


Video Produced by WeCopwatch

At this stage in the battle to “Break the Curfew” it is unclear to say where things are headed, but without a doubt protests against police violence will continue and Copwatch will be out there documenting police actions. If you want to know more about you rights check in with us at:WeCopwatch@gmail.com