In August 2014 during the days following the murder of Mike Brown, a member of WeCopwatch flew out to Ferguson from Oakland, California. Amidst teargas and live fire, WeCopwatch and residents of Ferguson would fundraise over $1000 to get cameras into the hands of the community.
And the Copwatch movement in St. Louis took off from there.
As Spring descends upon us, Copwatch efforts in Ferguson continue to thrive, to the point that Ferguson is now helping support efforts back in Oakland. In recent months, several autonomous Copwatch projects have sprouted, and we think it’s a perfect time to get another camera drive in motion.
Our folks need cameras. They’ve been going out on regular patrols, conducting Know Your Rights / Copwatch trainings and taking a stand against one of America’s most brutal police forces: the Oakland Police Department.
While the city of Oakland flaunts its newly developed downtown area, this “revitalization project” has come at the cost of the residents of Oakland. Gentrification, along with a brutal police force, has displaced black and brown residents as a means to “clean up” the neighborhood. AfrikaTown is a community effort to provide a different alternative, one that supports and lifts the existing community rather than displace it. AfrikaTown is already an important and necessary aspect of West Oakland, where people come to gather, celebrate, and eat.
Within AfrikaTown is Qilombo, a community center that offers workshops and events to the residents. It has a bookstore, a free store, and a food distribution program. Adjacent to Qilombo is a garden that has been transformed over the last year to provide fresh vegetables for the community, with a beautiful mural that depicts struggle across the black diaspora. Hundreds of people have helped to bring AfrikaTown to life, and we need more support than ever to see it continue.
Come out and support so we can see AfrikaTown become an established community in our city.
WeCopwatch supports Africa Town.
See You in the Streets
On December 6, 2014, the Berkeley Police, assisted by other agencies, attacked scores of demonstrators protesting the Grand Jury decisions on the Eric Garner and Mike Brown killings.
WeCopwatch, Berkeley Copwatch and the National Lawyers Guild are collaborating on a People’s Investigation into the Berkeley Police response on Dec. 6, 2014, and NLG lawyers are considering legal action and conducting confidential interviews.
If you experienced or witnessed specific acts of police violence please contact us
There are many ways to effectively document the movement while protecting the space, its movements and people’s privacy. Live Streaming is generally NOT one of them.
A common issue with Streamers is their display of entitlement, often citing the value of bringing the movement to the people. But Streamers have a hard time admitting that the police find their work more valuable then demonstrators.
In a world of voyeurism and exhibitionists, Streamers often get carried away, interpreting their role as being a narrator for the movement. They often film people without their consent, placing more value in presenting to their viewership, then protecting the group that is already taking risks by just getting out into the street to protest.
Copwatchers are out in full in effect as Anti Police Uprisings continue to take place across the bay area. Here are a couple ideas of what to be looking for if you are out in the streets documenting police actions.
1. Before any police actions occur, get the identity of the officers present.
Names, badge numbers, any weapons, and which department they work for can all be very helpful down the line if any misconduct should occur.
2. Film police movements, formations and any police actions such as threats, attacks, or arrests. (this can help in getting someone’s case dismissed)
As protests and actions continue daily across the bay, police continue to implement new tactics to quell mass mobilizations. As many may know, undercover police officers brandished guns on demonstrators in Oakland last night.