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.
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.
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.