As I reflect on these past three years, it’s often hard to see where we are, where we are heading, and where we came from.
But today I see so much clarity both in what we have accomplished together, and apart. David when I met you in Ferguson, I couldn’t conceive what was about to happen. Who would have ever imagined that we could effectively kick racist police out of your neighborhood using video cameras.
Who would have ever thought that we would help bring copwatch to the people, and the communities that needed it the most.
From Ferguson, to Oakland, to Baltimore, to NYC, to Standing Rock, I thank you and am forever grateful for taking this journey with me.
We’ve sacrificed everything, and we’ve lost so much.
But I think about how large our family has grown, how many people have joined this struggle and stood with us.
We’ve been targeted, surveilled, even infiltrated by police provocateurs, yet here we are today. Stronger than ever. It did’t start with us, and certainly won’t end with us either. But I love you. You are my Brother, and have been one of the most important contributors in this struggle.
Thank you David. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Jacob Crawford/WeCopwatch
1. Ramsey needs legal support. He has been cut, harassed, and put into solitary confinement.
If you are a lawyer, and can make welfare phone calls, or are interested in helping support Ramsey with a few issues that he is dealing with behind bars, please contact us at WeCopwatch@protonmail.com
2. It would be great if more people were writing him. Let him know he is not alone. You can write him and send it to this address.
Ramsey Orta, 16A4200
Franklin Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 10
Malone, New York 12953-0010
3. We send pictures to Ramsey. Feel free to take a picture with a sign, and email it to us a WeCopwatch@protonmail.com and we’ll be sure to put it in the mail.
4. Ramsey need financial support. You can donate directly to him at his Paypal using this email. OrtaRamsey@gmail.com(which was not in his control for many months) You can also send money orders to
5. Ramsey’s official pages are now RamseyOrta.org or com. RamseyOrta.info has not been updated for many months, and it had inaccurate information on it.
In the fall of 2016, WeCopwatch traveled to North Dakota to support the indigenous-led resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline’s drilling along the Missouri River, right on the border of the Standing Rock Reservation. Water protectors had been experiencing violence and repression from local, and state authorities as well as DAPL employees.
The camps had already been documenting these incidents, so the idea of Copwatch resonated with many. With great honor, we were invited to return in the winter to help spread the message of Copwatch across the camps.
In the spirit of Copwatch College (which will be available this year), we interviewed a bunch of Water Protectors, dug into WITNESS and WeCopwatch’s resources and assembled and pretty incredible Copwatch / Video as Evidence Guide which we would use and distribute during training’s at Standing Rock.
The fund is still open. Feel free to contribute. The struggle is far from over.
We spent the great part of winter at Standing Rock splitting wood, supporting Water Protectors, and conducting varies trainings. What was evident then, and continues to be today, is that police are a real issue in Native Communities, and people want to do something about it.
In February of 2017, Local, State, and Federal authorities, assisted by officers from out of state, as well as the National Guard, raided multiple camps at Standing Rock displacing hundreds of people. Our Copwatch Community has been displaced along with others.
The camps may be gone, but the spirit of Standing Rock continues to grow as occupations sprout up across the country. WeCopwatch anticipates a busy spring and summer.
We recently decided to partner with one of our Water Protectors to obtain a food/copwatch truck that can travel from occupation to occupation feeding people and educating people about their rights when they are stopped by law enforcement, or while observing the police when they interact with members of the public.
We partnered with Richard Fisher, an elder, a warrior, a water protector, and a copwatcher. Richard took representatives of WeCopwatch into the SWO camp at Standing Rock in November of 2016.
He helped support the formation of a native led Copwatch group. Today we are trying to support him, and support this great project. The water protectors haven’t given up, so it’ up to us to make sure they have the support they need. This is a Standing Rock / WeCopwatch Collaboration, and we look forward to continuing to spread the gosepl of copwatch to Native People in resistance. https://www.gofundme.com/support-standing-rock-rock-refugee
$3000 – Food Truck
$500 – Literature
$2000- Gas and Transportation
$500- Copwatch Training Tee Pee
$2000- Cooking Equipment
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.
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.