When Police Riot

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When you watch this, you will see this was a premeditated attack on Cincinnati Copwatch.

A CopWatch volunteer’s videocamera last week helped prove his innocence in court.
After testimony by Jacob Crawford and the two Cincinnati Police officers who arrested him, Hamilton County Municipal Judge Cheryl Grant acquitted Crawford of obstructing official business.

“After weighing the credibility of the witnesses, the court finds that the state did not prove its case on this issue and finds the defendant not guilty,” Grant said.

Crawford, a CopWatch organizer in Berkley, Calif., attended a block party sponsored by Cincinnati CopWatch. The organization had a permit to block part of East Clifton Avenue in Over-The-Rhine from noon-8 p.m. July 26. When a police officer needed help nearby, two squad cars drove into the block party; Crawford was arrested for blocking their path.

The prosecution presented a tape from a cruiser that followed one driven by Officer Robin Williams. The tape shows the cruisers went around a barricade and into the block party. Near the barricade, as the cruisers approached, a man can be seen on the left side of the road motioning for police to slow down.

Williams said she didn’t see the man. What she says she saw, as the video depicts, was a large group of people in the street, which she figured was related to the assistance call.

“I wasn’t aware there was a block party,” Williams said.

Crawford was standing in the road, a videocamera to his face. Williams’ vehicle veered to the left to avoid him. She and Officer Jody Dillinger both testified that Crawford tried more than once to move in front of their vehicle.

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Williams testified that she stopped three times because of Crawford. But she later said that after the first stop, she told Dillinger to arrest him. The tape shows that after Dillinger left the car, Crawford took several steps away from her. Within seconds, he threw his hands in the air and lay on the ground and Dillinger got on top of him and handcuffed him.

Defense attorney Paul Laufman presented videotape shot by Crawford. It shows an oncoming police cruiser blowing its air horn and veering to the right of the camera’s perspective. The passenger door opens and Dillinger jumps out. Then the camera shakes for a couple of seconds and settles, showing Crawford on his stomach and Dillinger on top of him.

On the witness stand, Crawford admitted to hearing the sirens but didn’t know what they were for.

“Sirens are so common in Over-the-Rhine, I just ignored it,” he said.

Crawford said he didn’t see the lights until the car was almost on top of him. The distance between him and the barrier was roughly 75 yards; and with the large crowd, he said, his view was blocked.

Crawford also testified he assumed the police wanted to check the permit for the block party and that’s why he didn’t move at first. He said he just turned on his camera and started filming.

Laufman argued that the camera hindered Crawford’s view to the extent that he couldn’t realize what was going on.

Crawford said he wasn’t running, but getting out of the way because he thought Dillinger was after somebody else.

“When I realized it was me, that’s when I put my hands up and got on the ground,” he said. “I was like a deer in the headlights.”

Crawford’s videocamera — still running when it was placed on the front seat of the police cruiser — contradicted Dillinger’s testimony. Dillinger had testified that Crawford moved in front of the vehicle. But when she was reprimanding him in the car, she said the opposite.

“You just stood there,” Dillinger said. “You were running the camera!”

Laufman argued that obstruction of official business requires an act.

“The officer herself said in the video that he just stood there,” Laufman said. “For that, there was no act.”

Laufman also asked both officers if they’d noticed any children. Both testified that they were too frightened and on edge to notice any of the age groups.

But on Crawford’s tape, Dillinger said, “You could have gotten one of those kids killed.”

In closing arguments, Laufman argued that Crawford did nothing wrong.

“His intent was only trying to film, not impede the officers,” Laufman said. “As we watch his camera as the cruiser approaches, it veers to the left and we can see that the camera does not move from its original position. We would submit to the court that he did no act. He stood where he was.”

The judge agreed.

“The court understands the officers’ emotions,” Grant said. “The court also understands that Mr. Crawford was attempting to video the officers. … When officers respond to an emergency, the officers are expected to be able to deal with obstacles.”

After the trial, Crawford said he believes police mishandled the situation.

“A lot of these officers do not know what it is to live in a poor black community,” he said. “They are not aware of their struggle and history. It’s not so much about help as it is about the hunt.”

Police Chief Tom Streicher has denied CopWatch’s application for another block party. Streicher wrote that during the July 26 party, officers were unable to respond to an assistance call because the “emergency lane of travel through the block party had not been maintained, as required by the conditions of the permit.”

But that contradicts Capt. James Whalen, who earlier said the westbound lane of traffic was kept clear and apologized that police had frightened residents

The Streets is Watchin

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This video is the first Copwatch video I (Jacob Crawford) ever produced. In the winter of 2002, I ventured to Cincinnati Ohio to visit a newly formed Copwatch. The group was comprised of incredible people, in a community under attack by some of the most scariest and racist police I had ever come across to date. Cincinnati Copwatch was been born out the Timothy Thomas Riots of 2001, when the community of Over The Rhine exploded after Cincinnati Police shot and killed an unarmed youth by the name of Timothy Thomas. Cincinnati would change my life forever. I would never be able to look at police again without seeing their clear connection to slave catchers of the previous century. As you watch this video, take some time to really see how the police interacted with people, with children. How anyone in Cincinnati could view the police as anything but racist thugs is beyond me. Welcome to Cincinnati Ohio. .

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Why Did Oakland Police Kill a Man in Distress?

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A 53 year old man was killed by Oakland Police early this morning (July 8th, 2013) as they attempted to bring him into custody for a psychological evaluation. At this point the only version of this killing is coming from the Oakland Police and was distributed by Johnna Watson who was not present during the killing and is paid essentially to do damage control in the hours following a police killing or action.

You can see Johnna Watson doing damage control in this WeCopwatch video in which a house was gassed and raided.

Oakland SWAT Team deploys Gas during Raid in West Oakland 10/15/12

You can read Oakland Police’s press release here

WeCopwatch is strongly against Police making contact with people in distress. Oakland needs to find solutions to helping people who are upset, or in mental anguish without involving armed people who know they can kill with impunity. One thing is for sure, Oakland Police are mandated to activate their PDRD’s (mounted chest cameras) when interacting with people, so this killing is on video.

Breaking Down (Police Hurt Mental Health)

Read more WECOPWATCH’s coverage of Mental Health issues

Oakland Tribune’s title “Man Collapses, Dies During Arrest in East Oakland Neighborhood”insinuates that Police may not have been a factor in this man’s death. What do you think?

Videos of OPD Violence Reveal Serious Problems that Led to $1 Million Occupy Oakland Settlement

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by Jacob Crawford and Dave Id
Image by Elijah Nouvelage

Twelve people injured by the Oakland police department during Occupy Oakland demonstrations have settled a federal civil rights lawsuit with the city of Oakland for a total of $1.17 million. The injuries came as a result of OPD’s violent response to Occupy Oakland on October 25 and November 2, 2011. The settlement in the Campbell vs. City of Oakland case comes on the heals of another $1 million settlement still pending final approval,
Spalding vs.City of Oakland.

Photo by Dave Id

As a result of both cases, OPD has agreed to allow the federal court to enforce OPD’s compliance with its own crowd control policy and to negotiate with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and ACLU before making any changes to the policy, which prohibits police from shooting “less lethal” impact munitions or tossing explosive teargas grenades into crowds, and prohibits mass arrests without warning or opportunity to disperse.

The videos below document the cases of four of the Occupy Oakland plaintiffs in two separate incidents. The videos reveal police violence through the video of plaintiffs, witnesses, and never­before­seen Oakland police chest cameras.

While there were many incidents investigated in the Occupy Oakland Campbell lawsuit, the following two incidents of police violence have similarities that underscore serious problems within the Oakland Police Department.

The first video below is of Scott Campbell being shot by a lead­shot filled beanbag round following Oakland’s General Strike on the night of November 2, 2011.

In the case of Scott Campbell, the command to shoot anyone crossing an invisible line is illegitimate. How could people know they were in harm’s way? Less than lethal weapons are supposedly intended for situations where violence is taking place and the officer needs to defend themselves and other officers. This is simply not the case with Scott Campbell. As you can see in the video Scott is not approaching the line, but rather walking parallel to it. As you can see Oakland police officer Victor Garcia waits until Campbell is almost out of view to fire at him. Not because Campbell suddenly takes a turn towards the police line, or poses a threat, but Garcia fires at him because he can see that Campbell was just an inch over the invisible line marked by a roll of toilet paper. Garcia didn’t shoot to defend or protect, he shot because he knew he could get away with it by deliberately misinterpreting his commander’s order to fire at anyone who crossed the invisible line.

The second video below is of the violent arrests of Brooke Anderson, Max Alper, and Kevin Christensen following the raid of Occupy Oakland on the morning of October 25, 2011.

Those people attacked and arrested had done nothing wrong. You can see Oakland police officer Cesar Garcia goes into the crowd with his baton ready, and ends up striking Max Alper several times. Then later he is caught on video visibly upset that he has to document his use of force in a report because he “jabbed one of the fat things friendly.”

After you have watched both videos, consider:

1. Both Garcias have been in multiple officer involved shootings. Victor Garcia has shot two people as well as an arthritic dog that posed no threat. Cesar Garcia has also been in multiple officer involved shootings. (see Jones vs Oakland reference at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/02/06/18731467.php)

2. Both officers were under the command of officers who have been involved in shootings. Oakland police Captain Ersie Joyner has been in involved in five shootings, one with Cesar Garcia in fact, and Oakland police lieutenant Fred Mestas has been involved in at least two shootings.

3. Both Garcias showed premeditation in their acts of violence. Victor Garcia knowing the order was to shoot anyone who crossed the invisible line, trained his gun on Scott Campbell as he walked parallel to the line and waited until he saw that Campbell was just an inch past the line before shooting. Cesar Garcia was the only cop who had his baton out ready to swing when Lt Mestas ordered the arrests.

4. In both incidents, both officers used excessive violence not merely because they are violent officers but, more importantly, because they knew they could get away with it. Joyner and Mestas were both responsible for the incidents and the actions of
their subordinates.

While the both Garcia’s need to be held accountable for their actions, both Joyner and Mestas should be held to even higher standards as commanding officers. But in Oakland as you can see, you’re more likely to be promoted if you shoot people. . .

National Lawyers Guild Press release

And check out the National Lawyers Guild’s settlement with OPD for wrongfully arresting Oscar Grant Protesters in 2010
Right Here

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