Thank you to all who have donated and shared our fundraiser to get cameras into the hands of Copwatchers at Standing Rock.
In the coming days our Copwatch family at Oceti Sakowin camp will be conducing trainings about people’s rights when stopped by law enforcement and while observing the police.
We intend to keep this fund open so that we can place another order for cameras over the next week.
The goal is to equip every camp with the knowledge, tools, and resources to defend themselves in actions against the DAPL pipeline, but also in their communities back back home.
We are still in need of a couple things.
1. We need as many cameras as possible. New or used
2. We need a used Mac and hard drives to organize video so that Water Protector Legal Collective can best advocate and defend people arrested.
If you can donate to our open fund please do. All donations go to tools and resources for people who have been on the front lines.
FBI surveillance planes, drones and low flying helicopters are ever present over camp and armored vehicles and snipers are positioned on hilltops nearby at the ready.
Undercover provocateurs and DAPL employees frequently infiltrate the camp perpetrating violence against people.
Water Protectors are being met with violence as riot police indiscriminately swing batons and deploy tasers, gas, water cannons, and projectiles at peaceful people. But theres hope. The resistance continues to grow, and recently a Copwatch group has been formed on the groud at Standing Rock
WeCopwatch has been at Standing Rock for the past week supporting the formation of a Copwatch at Standing Rock. This is a Native run group who have been holding it down on the front lines.These cameras will be used for actions, police assaults, and security at the camps.WeCopwatch will be helping train trainers and different groups about their rights when interacting with law enforcement and while cop watching.
The situation on the ground is volatile. People involved in this project have already been targeted.
Right now we need to purchase at least 20 cameras. Ten for our group, and the rest for varies camps and tribes who are also on the front lines documenting the police. Donate what you can. Money will purchase cameras, but we need plenty of resources as well such as computers, video cards, hardrives, and literature.
This year WeCopwatch began offering a series of intensive Copwatch / Know Your Rights trainings and classes to Copwatch groups and individuals.
We feel that the responsibility of watching the police falls on us all. That’s why a primary function of WeCopwatch is to educate the masses about their rights when stopped by law enforcement, and while out observing the police.
We’ve trained with varies groups, individuals, and organizations like the Peaceful Streets Project , The Canfield Watchmen, and WITNESS. But the demand for trainings and information is so great that we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to make our information more accessible to the general public.
Inspired by a UC Berkeley college class taught by Berkeley Copwatch, and motivated by the daily requests for support and training, WeCopwatch has been working tirelessly consolidating information and training material into a full curriculum that will educate and empower the public to make better decisions when interacting with law enforcement, be better witnesses when observing police stops, and to be better advocates for victims when we witness and document incidents of police misconduct.
Copwatch College will be multiple classes comprised of videos and reading material as well as a multitude of reference material so that one can take their education as far and deep as they want. And yes, there is an optional exam at the conclusion of each class.
Course material will also be downloadable so that it can be utilized and distributed in trainings and workshops and be accessible to people who are not connected to the internet.
Once enrolled, you can take classes at your pace.
You can enroll in the entire course, or sign up for just one class.
The hope is that regardless of how far you take it, that you walk away with tools to act.
This is the current curriculum. . .
The History and Role of Police in America From Slave Patrols to Strike Breakers
Rights and Who they Serve They were written for White Men but. . . .
The Watchers A History of Watching the Police
How Police are Trained Enter the Mindset of Johnny Law
Rights When Stopped by Police An Overview of Different types of Stops, your Rights, and Strategies for Exercising them
Copwatching Rights and Tactics for Safe and Effective Copwatching
Responding to Critical Incidents Involving the Police Tool Kits for deploying to Police Shootings and Crowd Control scenarios
Investigations Conducting Public and Legal Investigations
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
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. . .
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Another aspect of building an effective coalition of First Responders is providing trainings to build capacity. Trainings include
Filming crime scenes
Supporting people dealing with trauma
Filing records requests, preservation letters, discovery
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.
A memorial was placed where he died as well as in the middle of the intersection.
The 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.
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.”
This 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.
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
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.
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.
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.