Whether you are a regular contributor to Cop Block, an activist; who knows the value of keeping a camera handy when dealing with police and other government officials, or simply a fan; who wants to demonstrate your support for what Cop Block does and spread the word to others, there is a new tool available to make it easier for you to do so.
Official Cop Block press passes are designed as a multifunctional option for anyone involved with Cop Block, as well as a convenient and attractive way to support Cop Block’s goals of holding law enforcement accountable for their actions. They act as both a visual indicator that you value your rights and a prominent warning to anyone that might want to infringe upon them.
Over the years, Cop Block has expanded from a small “DIY” style project into a fully functioning independent media outlet with a prominent national online presence and over thirty (and counting) satellite organizations located in cities throughout the United States and even beyond those imaginary borders. The establishment of official Cop Block press passes represents the next step in that evolution in which we serve notice to the world that we won’t be marginalized or overlooked, but are asserting ourselves as a legitimate member of the media.
Keep reading below for more detailed reasons why you need and/or want to get your hands on a press pass (and additional pictures) or just order one right now and keep it within reach, along with your camera.
Why You Need an Official Cop Block Press Pass
The days of blogs primarily being a dumping ground for photoshopped cat pictures and tales of teenaged girls’ frustrations with their BFFs have long since passed. What has come to be known as “citizen journalism” has evolved into an important element of the media. Many of the scandals and abuses by public officials in recent years have been exposed by bloggers. Absent potential conflicts of interest created by political or sponsorship concerns, grassroots journalists can and often do report the things mainstream outlets are unable or unwilling to.
At Cop Block, members have varying reasons for being involved and levels of availability. However, those of us that understand the critical need for accountability for police take this responsibility very seriously. As a result, we want to encourage others to add their own unique skills to the mix in as easy and safe a way as possible.
Safety can be an important consideration when confronted by an armed, aggressive, and at times violent person. This is, of course, why we encourage filming the police in the first place. Whether you are simply creating an unbiased record of your own interactions with badge wearing government employees on a random encounter or while actively seeking to confront official abuses, having a press pass can provide an extra layer of security.
There are several important protections afforded by the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution in regards to documenting the actions of public officials. Citizens can’t be forced to stop recording police activities in public places, nor can cameras, photos, or film legally be confiscated. Even in the event of an arrest, such items must be returned intact and can’t be searched without a warrant.
Cops obviously don’t always follow even their own rules, but an official Cop Block press pass serves as a visual warning to them that you know your rights and intend to use them. Even if you are unlucky enough to run across a police officer that completely disregards the Constitution and his legal responsibilities, establishing yourself as a legitimate member of the press reporting on a newsworthy issue makes it that much easier to seek compensation for those transgressions against First Amendment protections later.
Another important function of a press pass is the access it can provide to important events. In the future, members of Cop Block shouldn’t limit themselves to hacking at the branches of police brutality if there is an opportunity to strike at the root of corruption. Rather than only confronting an individual officer out in the field, if the local sheriff, mayor, district attorney, etc. schedules a press conference or other public appearance, request press access and ask them directly why one of their employees beat, shot, or wrongfully arrested someone in your city and what they intend to do about it.
As a member of a network that advocates for police accountability, you may encounter some initial resistance from those in charge of media access, but the combination of a legitimate, professional looking press pass and a good First Amendment argument can go a long way toward getting you in the same room with those who are supposed to enforce the policies. And even if they aren’t willing to answer your questions, at least you can put them on notice that there is someone watching the watchmen.
Furthermore, something that can help make it easier for you to seek accountability is the perception that accompanies those efforts. One thing that many organizers and activists learn early is that mindsets matter, both in regards to those trying to make change and those they encounter in the process. When you think of yourself as a legitimate, professional member of the media you are more likely to act as such and when you behave in a professional manner people are less likely to resist your efforts to do so.
I can actually tell you from personal (albeit anecdotal) experience that there is a perceptible difference in the way you are received when displaying a professional looking press pass, both by PR people that control access to events and by security and/or police you might encounter. Even in instances where media credentials aren’t required, you are less likely to be questioned about why you are filming and anyone that does question you is more likely to take into consideration legal ramifications that might result from interfering with members of the media.
As already stated, one of the purposes of issuing press passes is to serve notice to those we come into contact with that we are acting as and expect to be treated as an independent media outlet. Additionally, that same intent extends to those wearing the press passes and to encourage them to expect and even demand such recognition.
Yet another benefit to using a press pass when filming in public is that it give any innocent bystanders that might not want to be in a video or photograph an opportunity to get out of the way. This is both a matter of courtesy and a way of avoiding unnecessary conflict with people that aren’t doing anything wrong.
Why You Want an Official Cop Block Press Pass
Even if you can’t or just aren’t interested in actively participating in Cop Block activities, there are several reasons why you will want an official Cop Block press pass. Not only do they make great souvenirs and gifts, but they are a way for you to show your personal support for Cop Block and police accountability.
Much like Cop Block’s other merchandise, these press passes are a visual symbol of your belief that everyone should be held to the same standard and the act of putting on a badge and certain outfit shouldn’t confer special privileges upon someone.
Wearing a Cop Block press pass also creates an easy opportunity for outreach to others in your community. Cop Block’s logo and URL are prominently featured in the design of the press pass. Anyone who views them will gain the opportunity to be exposed to a site dedicated to holding law enforcement officials accountable.
Beyond that, the uniqueness of it is sure to serve as a conversation starter and enable you to have discussions with your friends, neighbors, and even random strangers about the violence, corruption, and encroachment on personal liberties committed by government employees and the importance of holding them accountable for such abuses, when they occur.
Plus, each press pass is a unique, personalized souvenir. Featuring your own name and photo, as well as the option of choosing the main Cop Block site or an affiliate in your own town, if there is one (if not, you can always start one). Either way they add up to a great keepsake that will make you stand out in the crowd. Order one today for yourself or as a memorable gift for a fan of Cop Block and what we do to make the world a more just place.
If you are ready to make that leap from activist to a member of the grassroots media ORDER YOUR PRESS PASS RIGHT NOW!