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Las Vegas Metro Police: Chalk Washes Off, But Injustice Never Will

Metro's attempt to hide their crimes using ridiculous heavy handed charges will only bring more attention to them.

Metro’s attempt to hide their crimes using ridiculous, heavy handed charges will only bring more attention to them.

In an obvious and ridiculous attempt to intimidate them into ending their efforts to bring attention to the history of abuses, corruption, and outright murders by Las Vegas area police and a total lack of accountability for such by those that oversee local police departments, three members of the Sunset Activist Collective were given citations for “graffiti” based on writing with washable sidewalk chalk. (See below for video of the incident.)

J.R. Dazo, Kelly W. Patterson, and Ballentine, who have since been dubbed the “Sunset 3” were participating in Nevada Cop Block‘s monthly anti-police brutality protest and vigil known as “Second Saturdays” in front of the LVMPD’s headquarters on June 8th. As has been the case for about nine months, this protest included writing out the crimes of the police, listing the names of their victims, and posting our demands for reconciliation with the citizens of Las Vegas.

Normally, outside of some dirty looks by the cops at the offices as they drive past and almost without exception supporting comments from passersby, no-one bothers the people participating in these protests. It is supported by and often attended by the family members of people who have fallen victim to police violence. However on this particular day, Sgt Michael Wallace approached them and claimed that writing with chalk that is marketed as and named for the very purpose it was being used for was illegal and constituted graffiti and that they had to stop.

After being told that they wouldn’t stop because it was in fact legal, Sgt Wallace responded that he’s an expert on graffiti because he works for the gang unit. While it’s rare and somewhat commendable of Sgt. Wallace to admit that the police are actually a gang, it’s pretty unlikely that street gangs are using children’s chalk for their graffiti these days. Sgt. Wallace’s next assertion was to insist “that’s what the courts are for,” which is also incorrect. The courts don’t exist so random cops can just disregard the actual law, declare something they don’t like illegal, and then issue fines for it. Part of a police officer’s job description is to know the laws and to apply them properly not to drum up bogus reasons to cite people when he disagrees with the messages they are conveying.

After asserting his expertise in the laws concerning graffiti (even though he couldn’t cite a specific law regarding chalk constituting graffiti), Mike Wallace then returned to his car to write citations. However, he stayed in his car for an inordinately long time (the unofficial estimate was 45 minutes) talking on the phone. During this time, Ballentine called into the non-emergency LVMPD phone line and asked a dispatcher if drawing with chalk was illegal, to which he was told, “I don’t think that is a crime.”

Shortly after this extended wait, Detective Matchko of the gang unit arrived and Mike Wallace informed us that his supervisor was on the way, even though he had refused to call a supervisor when requested earlier, because he “is THE supervisor.” Once that supervisor, Lt. John Liberty, arrived he basically confirmed what had already been assumed regarding the lengthy delay, which was that Mike Wallace had been unable to figure what to write up as a charge on the citations. In all likelihood, the dispatcher had told him the same thing she told Ballentine earlier. Lt. Liberty stated that he had needed to call both a district attorney and a judge to get advice on whether they should issue citations for drawing on a sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.

In spite of being informed of previous court cases in which it had already been found that chalking is a form of free speech protected under the First Amendment, Lt. liberty and Mike Wallace insisted that it was a citable offense under anti-graffiti laws. Their main justification was that the city has to pay to a have a cleaning crew come down and wash the chalk. However, the truth is it would take no more than a bucket of water to remove the chalk and, outside of the fact that the cops would like to avoid having attention drawn to their crimes, there’s no real reason that the city would need to pay to make sure the chalk is gone a couple days earlier than it would be removed naturally by the a combination of the nearby sprinklers and the wind.

Essentially, it amounts to a form of censorship since the reason the citations were issued wasn’t because of the legality of writing on a sidewalk with sidewalk chalk, but rather for what was being written. In addition, it is nothing more than a continuation of the cover ups on behalf of Las Vegas area cops that murder members of our community at an increasingly regular frequency.

Statement of Solidarity and Unity from the Sunset Activist Collective

Earlier this week the Sunset Activist Collective released a statement urging the community to show their support for the three members that were cited and vowing not to be dissuaded from bringing attention to the LVMPD’s crimes, regardless of the outcome:

Chalk: Now Illegal in Las Vegas

Chalk: Now Illegal in Las Vegas

On July 18, three members of the Sunset Activist Collective will go before a Judge to answer the ridiculous charges that drawing on a sidewalk with chalk constitutes graffiti. That’s right! According to the LVMPD, sidewalk chalk is now illegal.

JR Dazo, Kelly W. Patterson, and Ballentine were cited during the “Second Saturday” anti-police brutality protest, organized by Nevada Cop Block (NVCopBlock.org), on June 8th for doing exactly that. As a result, they could all face fines of between $400 and $1,000, 100 hours of community service, and the suspension of their drivers licenses for two years.

This however is not the issue. The issue is the preservation of free speech for everyone, the ability of children to use sidewalk chalk, and the very idea of seeking justice for the victims of pig police in a peaceful way.

The obvious reality is that these bogus charges are truly based on the fact that Metro wants to dissuade us from bringing attention to the fact that its department has become one of the most prolific across the entire country in regards to police brutality and outright murder. They rank among the top in every category related to police violence. yet they continue to employ a stubborn unwillingness to hold any of the murders in their midst accountable for their crimes.

Regardless of what underhanded and over-reaching legal tactics they employ to try and keep us quiet, we intend to continue exposing the LVMPD for the violent criminal gang that it is. In fact, we feel that if anything this is just an indicator that we have been successful in our efforts to seek justice for Eric Scott, Stanley Gibson, Emmanuel Dozier, Trevon Cole, Tanner Chamberlain, and all the other victims of the Las Vegas Metropolitan police Department. We neither be bullied nor threatened into silence. In all likelihood, regardless of the actual outcome this will serve as an even bigger opportunity to bring attention to Metro’s crimes and Sheriff Gillespie’s unwillingness to hold anyone accountable for them.

In regards to the actual merits of these charges, it’s already been ruled in a case in Berkeley (by the 9th Circuit, which also has jurisdiction in Las Vegas) that “no reasonable person could conclude that chalk would damage a sidewalk” and by a federal judge in Orlando that chalking constitutes free speech protected under the First Amendment. So we have no only common sense, but case history on our side.

Please join us and help preserve the ability to seek justice in a peaceful, public manner against those within the Las Vegas are police, who have made injustice a part of their job description.

The Video (With Bonus Footage)

Embedded below is the entire encounter with Mike Wallace with the exception of the first couple of minutes when he initially approached and the times when he was at his car on the phone trying to figure out some justification to write tickets for drawing with chalk so that he wouldn’t have to come back and tell us we were right. In addition, there are two segments at the end, which repeat some of the full video and in which the audio is somewhat better.

The striking thing about this video is the level to which Sgt. Mike Wallace is flustered and at times downright confused and yet determined to follow through on writing citations for something, regardless of the actual legality of this protest.

“Let Me See Your I.D.” Stop and Identify Statutes – Know Your Rights

Stop and ID Statutes Map States Nevada Cop Block

Everyone should know their rights regardless, but it’s even more essential that you do if you intend to go out and film the police. Therefore, you should know if the state you live in has passed “stop and identify” statutes. If that is the case, then you should also know what is and isn’t required under such laws.

In 24 states police may require you to identify yourself. (If they have reasonable suspicion that you’re involved in criminal activity.)

“Stop and identify” statutes are laws in the United States that allow police to detain persons and request such persons to identify themselves, and arrest them if they do not.

Except when driving, the requirement to identify oneself does not require a person who has been detained to provide physical identification. Verbally giving identifying information is sufficient to satisfy that requirement.

In the United States, interactions between police and citizens fall into three general categories: consensual (“contact” or “conversation”), detention (often called a Terry stop), or arrest. “Stop and identify” laws pertain to detentions.

Consensual

At any time, police may approach a person and ask questions. However, the person approached is not required to identify himself or answer any other questions, and may leave at any time.

Police are not usually required to tell a person that he is free to decline to answer questions and go about his business. A person can usually determine whether or not the interaction is consensual by asking, “Am I free to go?”

Detention

Police may briefly detain a person if they have reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. Embedded below are videos from Flex Your Rights describing what reasonable suspicion is and when you are required to provide ID to the police. Police may question a person detained in a Terry stop, but in general, the detainee is not required to answer.[10] However, many states have “stop and identify” laws that explicitly require a person detained under the conditions of Terry to identify himself to police, and in some cases, provide additional information. (As of February 2011, the Supreme Court has not addressed the validity of requirements that a detainee provide information other than his name.)

Arrest

A detention requires only that police have reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in criminal activity. However, to make an arrest, an officer must have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime. Some states require police to inform the person of the intent to make the arrest and the cause for the arrest. But it is not always obvious when a detention becomes an arrest. After making an arrest, police may search a person, his or her belongings.

Variations in “stop and identify” laws

  • Five states’ laws (Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Ohio) explicitly impose an obligation to provide identifying information.
  • Fourteen states grant police authority to ask questions, with varying wording, but do not explicitly impose an obligation to respond:
  • In Montana, police “may request” identifying information;
  • In 12 states (Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Wisconsin), police “may demand” identifying information;
  • In Colorado, police “may require” identifying information of a person.
  • Identifying information varies, but typically includes
  • Name, address, and an explanation of the person’s actions;
  • In some cases it also includes the person’s intended destination, the person’s date of birth (Indiana and Ohio), or written identification if available (Colorado).
  • Arizona’s law, apparently written specifically to codify the holding in Hiibel, requires a person’s “true full name”.
  • Nevada’s law, which requires a person to “identify himself or herself”, apparently requires only that the person state his or her name.
  • In five states (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island), failure to identify oneself is one factor to be considered in a decision to arrest. In all but Rhode Island, the consideration arises in the context of loitering or prowling.
  • Seven states (Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Vermont) explicitly impose a criminal penalty for noncompliance with the obligation to identify oneself.
  • Virginia makes it a non-jailable misdemeanor to refuse to identify oneself to a conservator of the peace when one is at the scene of a breach of the peace witnessed by that conservator.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

When Are You Required to Provide ID to the Police?

“25 Feet of Injustice” by Ballentine of the Sunset Activist Collective

A Statement Regarding the “Chalk Back” Action of Jan. 19, 2013, Hosted by Nevada Cop Block:

25 ft of Injustice

So Much Injustice, So Little Pavement.

At the end of today when I got home my hands were black with dirt, my knees were bruised and I have a pretty nice blister going on one of my toes. I did four hours of dancing and then went over to fight for justice for the people who have been murdered by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. When I say “murdered” I mean just that. I mean that Stanley Gibson, Trevon Cole, Erik Scott and a dozen or so others were actually murdered by the police.

Many of the actions we do against the police are chalking actions because it has the effect of making a powerful statement to people walking by and it lets the police know that we are watching them and won’t stand for this. We know that our corrupt government backs the police 100% of the time and that if a cop kills someone, they’ll get a desk job whereas if I did it I’d face a trial for my life or liberty.

We do not accept this and so once again, we joined others downtown at the Clark County Government Center and the police head quarters up the street to express ourselves and our frustrations on the side walk. I usually know at least some of the people who do this with us. This time I was pleased to find only two people who I’d met before which is good because it means that new people are interested.

One of these people was Rondha Gibson, the widow of Stanley Gibson, she walked around and read the things we wrote and I could see she was very much still grieving a year now since her husband was taken away from her needlessly.

The issue of police brutality is near and dear to the Sunset Activist Collective. Our final point on the eight principles reads that even if a person doesn’t belong to the 1% they can still protect the 1% or long to be among them. That’s what the police do. They make capitalism possible. This idea that the police are here to protect people is bullshit. The police are the internal armed wing of the government, sent to do it and the corporation’s (like Zappos) bidding. We also recognize and oppose a pattern of violence against the poor and against minority groups on the part of the government and the police. For these reasons we stand against the police.

Sunset was instrumental in helping craft the demands against the police department and local government. Sometime ago, the father of victim Erik Scott noticed our demands and helped spread them around. Through these protests we met Rondha and Rondha now knows the Father of Erik Scott. We will bring justice to the people who live here.

The way my hands and knees got scraped up was I spent quite awhile on them scrawling the demands of Sunset and NVCopBlock.org on the sidewalk and then I listed some of the more well known abuses of the police in Vegas, five to be specific: The recent murders of a dog named “Bubba”, Stanley Gibson, Erik Scott, and Trevon Cole, as well as Emmauel Dozier, who didn’t get shot or die but actually shot four pigs who he thought were breaking into his home during an unannounced drug raid. He has been charged with trying to kill these cops. No drugs were found.

I left out quite a few stories of abuse, sexual assault, other murders, and stories of abuse from the North Las Vegas cops or the pigs in Henderson. When I’d finished writing I noticed that these five injustices with our ten demands took up about 25 feet of sidewalk. When you can fill a sidewalk with that much shame and terror then its time for things to stop.

Government has not listened. The public protects the police by enabling them, telling them “thank you” and giving them little things to eat. I say stop. I say adopt the policy of “I don’t speak pig.” You don’t have to tell a cop anything except your name, age and place of residency. You don’t have to show them anything other than your ID. Tonight as we were traveling from the government center to the police Head Quarters a pig pulled up alongside us, got out and said “how’s it going?”

I said nothing. I refuse to let this person into my life or to greet him. He then asked “do you mind if I ask where you are going?” or something like that. Kelly looked at this pig and said “Actually I do mind if you ask, its none of your business.” Then we started walking away. We could hear the cop still trying to talk to people. He reminded me of a nerd that used to linger around everyone when we were hanging out, he’d try and start a conversation with you and you’d just ignore him. It must feel awful to have people give you the cold shoulder. That is how that cop was treated and that makes me happy. That we made this person uncomfortable. I’m proud of Kelly for the correct response. I’m proud of everyone who when asked “who is in charge?” didn’t say anything or said “no one.”

Anyone who talks to the cops legitimizes them. I’m not here to be friendly. I’m here because someone they know murdered someone. I don’t want to hang out and shoot the shit, I’m upset and rightfully so. And anyone who has a problem with me using the word “pig” to describe a police officer, they probably read my web posts and the sunset website. I make sure to call them that so they will read it and have a terrible rest of the day. It’s the least I can do.

As we all were getting packed up we talked about doing this monthly until the revolution comes. We discussed setting up a planning meeting to bring more people down for these. If you’re interested let me know.

-Ballentine, the Sunset Activist Collective

Don’t Let Coroner’s Inquest Reforms Become Yet Another Victim of Police Intimidation

Las Vegas Coroner's Inquest

Why are Las Vegas area police so afraid of transparency and accountability?

Tomorrow, Dec. 4th, beginning at 9:30 AM the Clark County Commission is scheduled to vote on proposed reforms to the Coroner’s Inquest process in which killings by Las Vegas area police are reviewed and facts surrounding them are made public.

If you have any desire to see transparency in cases where police shoot people and accountability for those innocent people amongst that rapidly growing number you should do everything you can to attend that meeting and let your feelings be known. (See map below.)

Reportedly, with the exception of Chris Giunchigliani, the commission is preparing to vote against the proposed reforms, which would effectively end the Coroner’s Inquests.

As has been well documented, the original Coroner’s Inquests served more as a dog and pony show where the official cover story was pushed and contradictory evidence and witnesses were minimized or outright withheld. All of which only served to exonerate police when they murdered innocent people rather than as a true fact finding investigation.

The inevitable criticisms and lack of confidence in such an obviously orchestrated and dishonest process led to demands for reforms from the families of people killed by Las Vegas police under suspicious circumstances, several communitty organizations, as well as both the NAACP and ACLU on behalf of victims. The resulting reforms, while not a perfect solution provided for several changes in the Coroner’s Inquest process to bring more transparency and increase the chance for true accountability, such as the ability for the victims to be represented by a lawyer that would have the ability to question witnesses. This in and of itself was an important step forward, since the District Attorney, who controls all the evidence and witnesses presented during the Coroner’s Inquest, has demonstrated a bias toward the police officers involved.

Las Vegas Coroner's Inquests

An all too common in the Las Vegas area lately.

Not surprisingly, the police and in particular the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (LVPPA) have very little interest in a transparent process that might expose the murders their colleagues have committed. The LVPPA in it’s misguided attempts to “protect” police regardless of how glaringly wrong individual cops might be in a case or how negatively that affects the ability of other cops to do their job, has advised police not to cooperate with the new inquest should it be implemented. They also attempted to have the reforms thrown out as unconstitutional via a lawsuit that failed, but required that some minor procedural alterations be made to who was in charge of the inquest proceedings.

Unfortunately, largely because of that refusal to participate by local police, the County Commissioners are reportedly ready to buckle to pressure and scrap the Coroner’s Inquest process altogether. This would be bad for many reasons, not the least of which are that the alternatives are dramatically worse than the already inadequate original version of the Coroner’s Inquest was.

In most cases since the Coroner’s Inquests were put on hold, District Attorney Steve Wolfson has been issuing statements to explain his lack of desire to hold officers accountable for their actions. The fact that he recently stated that Henderson police are actually trained to kick defenseless people in the head repeatedly as a reason for not punishing a police officer in one of those statements doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence in that as a viable substitute.

Nor does the use of grand juries as the other apparent option hold much hope for a fair outcome. As was pointed out on this site a while back, grand juries are highly secretive and in pretty much every other respect, including the DA’s exclusive control over witnesses and evidence, have all the same flaws that the previous Coroner’s Inquest process contained.

The lack of accountability for their actions up to and including outright murder has lead to a shoot first mentality amongst the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and other area police. It’s actually getting to the point where it is hard to keep track of the instances of police involved shooting because they happen so often. Recently approved reforms are the only way to ensure transparency and justice for the families of the victims of questionable shooting by local police.

Further Info and Reasons to Support Coroner’s Inquest Reforms:

Erik Scott

Erik Scott was murdered by Las Vegas Metro police on July 10, 2010. The obvious problems with the Coroner’s Inquest proceeding in his case were likely the final straw that lead to the current reforms.

Statement (via Facebook post) from Bill Scott, Eric Scott‘s father:

Per Lisa’s appeal (below), please consider being at the County Commissioners’ meeting on 4 Dec.

Potential Outcome 1: If the commissioners cave in to the PPA (police union), only the District Attorney will be deciding whether officer-involved shootings were justified. As DA Steve Wolfson has demonstrated, to date, he NEVER finds fault with Metro shootings, because he relies completely on Metro’s flawed “investigations” of OISs.

In a recent case, Wolfson “chose” to not review high-definition security-system video evidence that clearly proved Metro officers shot and killed a young man for no reason (the Olivas murder). If the DA can’t be bothered to look at indisputable data/evidence that counters Metro’s cover-up narrative, how will 1) victims’ families know the facts surrounding their loved ones’ death, and 2) rogue/bad police officers be held accountable for shooting innocents?

Potential Outcome 2: If the county commissioners decide to eliminate the NEW coroner’s inquest process and go back to the long-ago-discredited grand jury process, reviews of OISs will be a secret, closed-door process. The grand jury would be stacked with “citizens” who are cop-friendly, and, again, rogue/bad cops would be routinely exonerated. That outcome is virtually guaranteed, because appointments to the grand jury would be carefully controlled by those friendly to Metro and beholden to intransigent obstructionists, the PPA union.

If the community is to have any hope of holding its police force accountable, getting rid of dangerous “cowboy cops,” and stopping the epidemic of senseless, deadly OISs, it’s imperative that county commissioners modify the NEW coroner’s inquest ordinance to ensure it complies with the recent Nevada Supreme Court ruling.

That’s a simple change to the existing ordinance, but the PPA union is fighting reinstatement of inquest hearings under the new procedures, and any other credible means for “civilians” to hold police officers accountable for their deadly behavior.

Unless hundreds of Las Vegas-area citizens show up on 4 Dec. and explain to the commissioners that murders-by-cops will NOT be tolerated, the PPA will prevail, and the commissioners will cave to union and DA pressure. And killer-cops will never again be deterred from shooting, when less-than-lethal alternatives would be more appropriate.

As you think about whether to expend the time and effort to attend the 4 Dec. meeting, please consider: If Officer Wm. Mosher had been TRULY held accountable for his 2006 shooting, he might have been either in prison, or fired from the Metro police force and not on the streets of Las Vegas on July 10, 2010. And my son, Erik, would be alive today.

Letting PPA union thugs run roughshod over county commissioners and a community has deadly consequences. Erik paid for Metro/PPA thuggery with his life. Who will be the next killer-cops’ victims?

Thanks for your kind support of this vital campaign to restore justice.

Regards,
Bill Scott

The post referencedby Bill Scott in his statement:

When the Government Prosecutes one of Its Own, the Scales of justice are Tipped Heavily Against the Common Citizen

STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW.

The Clark County Commission will be discussing the coroner’s inquest process for officer-involved homicides on December 4, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. We need the Commission to pass a simple housekeeping measure to allow the inquests to proceed. The Commission needs to understand that the public does not want it to abandon or water down the coroner’s inquests for officer-involved homicides. The LVMPD has a very high rate of officer-involved homicides, and the public deserves to know the facts when a member of the community is killed.

Meet outside the County Commission building at 9:15 a.m. on December 4, 2012. We will have free t-shirts so you can tell the Commission: “START THE INQUESTS. WE DESERVE TO KNOW.”

What is the inquest process?
In December of 2010, the coroner’s inquest process was reformed into a transparent, public airing of the facts when the LVMPD kills a member of the public. The 2010 reforms did not make the process adversarial. They replaced the jury and verdict with a panel and neutral factual findings. To help get at the truth and ensure fairness, they also provided for participation by the officers, family members, and the public. The reforms were responsive to widespread concerns from citizens and the product of a democratic process and public input. The Sheriff supported the reforms and they also had broad public support (including from PLAN, the Las Vegas NAACP, NACJ, and the ACLU).

Why haven’t we had any inquests since reforms were passed?
Unfortunately, the Police Protective Association (PPA) has fought the implementation of the new inquest process, trying to avoid transparency. The Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court of Nevada have both rejected the PPA’s arguments that the process violated their rights, finding that the coroner’s inquest is a fair process. The Nevada Legislature also refused to abolish the inquest.

How can we fix the inquests?
The Nevada Supreme Court recently held that justices of the peace cannot preside over the inquests under current law. The Clark County Commission can easily fix this technical, procedural issue if it has the political will to stand up to the PPA. The issue regarding who should oversee inquests was not part of the 2010 changes. The pre-2007 had hearing master, oversee inquests. Just like justices of the peace, hearing masters are attorneys. They already oversee non-officer homicide inquests and are qualified to preside over inquests into officer-involved homicides.

Why should the inquest be fixed?

Stanley L. Gibson

Stanley L. Gibson, a disabled Army vet, was murdered by Ofc. Jesus Arevalo on Dec. 12, 2012

The public deserves to know what happens when the LVMPD kills a member of the community, and transparency is needed to restore the trust between the LVMPD and the public. The County has spent significant sums of money and time on the 2010 reform process, to defend the inquest in court, and to lobby at the legislature. That money should not go to waste.

Most importantly, since the 2010 changes were passed, there have been 22 officer-involved homicides. This means that a total of twenty two families now stand in line waiting to learn the facts about how their loved ones were killed. Without an inquest, there is no way for families to get direct access to information about their family members’ deaths. The families and the public that employs police officers want and deserve an open and transparent process in place so they can assess the facts surrounding office-involved homicides themselves.

Is there any reason to wait?
There is no reason to keep delaying. While the PPA has appealed the case it lost in federal court to the Ninth Circuit, there is no stay or injunction in place and nothing stopping the inquest from moving forward. In fact, both the Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court have already determined that the process adequately protects the rights of officers. Even if the PPA continues to improperly refuse to allow officers to participate regardless of whether the officers have any right to the protection of the Fifth Amendment claim, the inquests can move forward. Enough other evidence—evidence such as dispatch records, other witnesses, reports, and even video in some cases—can tell the story of what happened.

No more excuses. Start the inquests. We deserve to know.

————————————————————————————-

Be there and make your voice heard!


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Statement of Demands for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Depatment – Submitted by Sunset Activist Collective

Las Vegas police have killed 146 people in the past decade and not one single one of them has been ruled unjustified.

Recently, Nevada Cop Block received a list of demands from a local activist organization known as the Sunset Activist Collective. Based on Metro‘s (along with other Las Vegas area police departments) long and prolific history of abuses and even outright murders, those of us at NVCopBlock.org have no problem posting and even endorsing these demands, especially those criticizing the use of a grand jury to cover up Stanley Gibson’s murder and calling for Sheriff Gillespie to resign. Based on his and other local officials’ history of covering up and minimizing police crimes, we feel that nothing short of that will be required in order to bring accountability to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Here are those demands in their entirety:

 

1. We believe that the grand jury is a worse, more corrupt process when applied to public officials than the old Coronor's Inquest was and is only used when other public officials want to cover up their crimes while appearing to actually hold them accountable.Therefore, we demand that District Attorney Steve Wolfson file charges directly for a public jury trial against Officer Jesus Arevalo for the murder of Stanley Gibson.

2. We demand a face to face televised apology by Sheriff Doug Gillespie to  the families of Stanley Gibson, Trevon Cole and Erik Scott.

3. We demand the immediate resignation of Sheriff Doug Gillespie at the conclusion of demand #2.

4. We demand that any seized property be returned to the victims of police shootings. If that property has already been disposed of, then a equitable and fair compensation should be arranged within a reasonable amount of time.

5. We demand compensation for the victims of police shootings, including but not limited to monetary compensation, all lost future wages, funeral expenses, property damages, medical expenses and one half the expense of a four year college education for each child of the victim.

6. We demand that all charges against Emmanuel Dozier be dropped on the basis of the right to self defense.

7. We demand an end to the tactic of neighborhood saturation, which really amounts to targeted and unlawful harassment primarily of low income and minority neighborhoods. A majority of residents whose only crime is being poor shouldn't have to be harassed because a small minority of their neighbors have committed crimes (many of which fall into the category of victimless drug crimes).

8. We demand that any police officer who engages in a shooting that wounds or  kills a person who is unarmed be placed on unpaid leave pending a public trial. Nobody else gets an automatic paid vacation for shooting someone.

9. We demand that police prominently display their badge numbers and not interfere with public observation, including being filmed, by anyone while on duty. Citizens already have a legal right to record public official performing their jobs in public spaces and transparency serves the dual functions of deterring abuse of authority and providing a neutral witness of any interactions.

10. We demand that if local or state government enacts unjust laws such as a law similar to Arizona's SB1070 or a ban on feeding the homeless, that the police department refuse to enforce such laws. "I'm just doing my job" has never been a good excuse for participating in acts of injustice.

LVMPD Budget Cuts: Finally, Minorities and Poor People Benefit from the Recession

Guess who lives in the neighborhoods LVMPD “saturates.”.

Recently, Sheriff Doug Gillespie made an announcement that, due to budget shortfalls, Las Vegas police would be forced to shift 26 cops from the D.A.R.E program and one of four “saturation teams” back to patrol duty. This along with hiring freezes instituted earlier in the year, was of course couched in terms of Las Vegas area residents becoming less safe, as a result:

“Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s face was grim as he described the largest budget shortfall yet facing Metro Police: an estimated $46.5 million deficit for 2013…

‘Should the community be concerned,” Gillespie said in a Metro video. “Yes. They

Las Vegas Sheriff Doug Gillespie looking very much like he needs a hug.

should be concerned…’

Deputy Chief Kevin McMahill said in a Metro video he’s worried about the demands placed on remaining officers and the community.

‘Will it be less safe? That’s a tough thing for me to sit and say to you,’ McMahill said. ‘The truth is probably…'”

And not surprisingly, either, the affected programs are characterized as essential crime prevention tools that should take priority over everything else:

“They’re cops dedicated to preventing crime in the valley.

But now they’re a luxury the Metropolitan Police Department can’t afford…

“I think it’s one of the few ways we could keep kids off drugs. It’s bothersome to me and bothersome to the community,” he (Las  Vegas Police Union head Chris Collins) said.

But the cuts will continue until Las Vegas and Clark County, which fund about 70 percent of the Metropolitan Police Department’s budget, figure out their priorities, he said.

“You still see city and county parks are being built. Why are you building parks but not funding the Police Department to the level it needs to keep citizens safe?” he asked.

All this teeth gnashing and hand wringing over being unable to fund cops and stuff that the community actually benefits from kinda explains why the city recently implemented what amounts to a protection racket style extortion scheme against local artists participating in First Fridays a few months back.

However, reality tells a very different story in regards to both of these programs.

A License to Harass: Saturating Certain Communities

They’ll find an excuse to stop you (unless you’re in Summerlin).

The so-called “saturation teams,” which were conceived and implemented by Metro Capt. Jim Dixon and Gillespie (prior to him becoming the sheriff) back in 2005, are actually glorified harassment squads that descend upon designated areas looking for any excuse to stop, search, and arrest the people within those neighborhoods.

“They use whatever laws are at their disposal: jaywalking, riding a bicycle without reflectors, outstanding warrants. They work together, swarming “hot spots” around the valley…

‘We’re like wolves,” officer Justin Gauker says. “We travel in a pack.'”

Those of us that are familiar with the way these wolves usually hunt aren’t exactly shocked by the selective nature of their prey or even how brazen they are when discussing it:

 Sat team officers have to make constant judgment calls. They won’t pull over and arrest someone in Summerlin (a more affluent, predominantly white section of Vegas), for example, who doesn’t have bike reflectors…

It’s old-school policing with professionalism…

I wouldn’t exactly disagree that “old-school policing” often included a lot of  swarming through minority and poor neighborhoods rousting anyone that they arbitrarily decide “is up to something” or “doesn’t belong there.” However, the professionalism of punishing everyone who lives in a certain location for the actions of a small segment of that location’s residents is a little more subjective. Also, it’s no secret that police stop minorities more often, look harder for an excuse to search them once stopped, and are much more likely to make an arrest if something is found. There is a reason that “old schools” get closed down. Usually they provide really shitty educations.

 DARE: A History of Failure and Community Destruction

Meanwhile, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program is actually an overly expensive program that has consistently been found to be ineffective and even potentially counter-productive. DARE programs really are nothing more than a product of police desire to justify increased funding, allow access to children for propaganda and informant recruitment purposes, and even convince them to turn their own parents in for minor, victimless drug “crimes.”

The advent of DARE programs has correlated with a steep increase in drug use among school children.

“DARE is costly and ineffective. It wastes educational and police resources. The link between schools and drug police has become a sacred cow that leads to a false sense of security, despite clear evidence that DARE is a failure. Since its curriculum went national, two patterns have emerged: more students now do drugs, and they start using drugs at an earlier age…

DARE has a hidden agenda. DARE is more than just a thinly veiled public relations device for the police department. It is a propaganda tool that indoctrinates children in the politics of the Drug War, and a hidden lobbying strategy to increase police budgets.”

Even the psychologists that created the basis for the model DARE uses have since denounced it as “misguided and outdated.”

“DARE is rooted in trash psychology,” Colson told me two years ago. “We developed the theories that DARE was founded on, and we were wrong. Even Abe Maslow wrote about these theories being wrong before he died.”

Which is true, said Boulder psychotherapist Ellen Maslow, Abraham Maslow’s daughter. She called DARE “nonsense” in 1996, saying the program represented widespread misinterpretation of humanistic psychology.

The Economy isn’t the Only Reason Metro is Over Budget

A reenactment of local governments’ spending policies over the past few years.

At the root of all this is the basic question of why Metro is over budget in the first place. The economic downturn that has hit Las Vegas especially hard certainly plays a part in it, although the reserve fund area police accumulated during the good times has been able to offset that up until this year. The real reason that local police departments’ funds are running dry is because they spent the past few years throwing cash around like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

Local governments throughout Southern Nevada decided to disregard the economic crash that everyone else in the world saw coming and go on a spending spree beginning in 2009. The city of Las Vegas, which is responsible for 40% of Metro’s budget, spent $146 million building a new city hall building that they couldn’t afford to staff five days a week anymore by the time of its opening.

North Las Vegas, which flirted with bankruptcy last year prior to taking advantage of a loophole that allowed them to declare a state of emergency in order to circumvent mandated spending requirements and also has been threatened with a takeover by state overseers, spent $130 million on their own fancy new city hall.

LVMPD’s fancy new (and expensive) digs.

Not to be outdone, LVMPD decided that they needed to have a “place of their own” after getting by all these years using space within the old city hall building and rented spaces throughout different areas of town. Instead of joining in on the move to the new city hall or taking over an existing government owned property (including the old city hall), they began construction on a brand new 370,000 square-foot complex.

While the construction costs seems to be a better kept secret than the location of the Holy Grail, it’s been widely reported that they are paying over $12.5 million per year, plus an annual increase of 2%, on top of that to lease the land the new headquarters was built on from a private real estate company.

All of this spending is usually explained away by the fact that they were planned back during the “good times,” even though everyone of them actually received their final approval late in 2009, well after the recession had already begun. The other go-to justification was (as is often the case for these sort of things) job creation, which in reality has amounted to nothing but temporary construction jobs during the building phase.

In fact, the expenditures from that construction has actually eliminated permanent jobs. As mentioned, the Las Vegas city hall is now only open four days a week. North Las Vegas has not only laid off public workers (including cops and firemen), but has also closed down it’s jail and has been rumored to have made unsuccessful ovatures to merge their entire police force with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Sheriff Gillespie has up until now been able to stave off large scale layoffs at Metro by not replacing retiring officers, drawing off the once large reserve funds, and doing a bit of creative math to shift expenses around.

Las Vegas Police Shooting Themselves in the Foot

Not an actual Metro police training illustration.

Another factor that has become a negative draw on Metro’s budget has been their tendency to beat, kill, and otherwise abuse people around the valley including completely innocent people and people they just don’t feel like chasing. The 150+ settlements that Las Vegas area police have paid out over the last five years alone (plus another $20 million lawsuit already in the pipeline) come out of that reserve fund and, of course, your pocket. Between the $6.5 million in direct cash paid out and all the salaries being paid to cops sitting home on paid vacation while their friends in the department figure out a way to exonerate them, a lot of Metro’s personnel woes could be alleviated if they just started asking a few questions before shooting or at least afterwards.

The propensity that cops in and around Las Vegas have for brutalizing its inhabitants has both monetary and physical consequences. Since local taxpayers foot the bill for these settlements and most of the offending officers are still on the payroll, these budget cuts are actually one of the few times that local cops have in any way felt repercussions for instances of police brutality.

Unfortunately, it’s not the actual cops responsible for these transgressions that will suffer, but rather it will be new (as of yet) untainted recruits that won’t be hired as a result. However, on the upside, there will be one less saturation team available to harass and abuse people that can’t afford to live in Summerlin.

And that’s a good start…

Las Vegas: Beware of Gang Activity in Your Neighborhood!

Nevada Cop Block Warning Gang Activity LVMPD Las Vegas

Be on the lookout for these signs of gang membership in your neighborhood. – If you see something, film something.

A gang is a group of recurrently associating individuals with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in the community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or other forms of illegal behavior. Usually, gangs have gained the most control in poorer, urban communities.

Gangs are involved in all areas of street-crime activities like extortion, drug trafficking (both in and outside the prison system), and theft. Gang activity also involves the victimization of individuals by robbery and kidnapping. Street gangs take over territory or “turf” in a particular city and are often involved in “providing protection“, a thin cover for extortion, as the “protection” is usually from the gang itself.

Most gang members have identifying characteristics unique to their specific clique or gang. Many gang members are proud of their gang and freely admit their membership. Their personal belongings frequently boast the gang’s logo and the member’s gang name. Gangs generally share common characteristics such as the wearing of distinct clothing. However, some individuals on the fringe of gang involvement are reluctant to identify themselves as gang members.

They are usually armed, often unpredictable, travel in overwhelming numbers, and are not above attacking or even killing innocent people that are unlucky enough to be confronted by them. So, interacting with them individually can be very dangerous. If possible, make sure others are present and ALWAYS carry a camera to document any improprieties and ensure a neutral “witness.”

(This list of gang “identifiers” was compiled from a combination of factors listed in Wikipedia and on the LAPD website. Minus the links, of course.)

Nevada Cop Block Gang Activity LVMPD Flyer

Be on the lookout for these known gang members. They have a history of violence and usually armed. – If you see something, film something.

If you see any of the criminals pictured above, document their activities (preferably by video) and contact Nevada Cop Block immediately, if not sooner. A huge h/t to Dizz (another awesome member of the Las Vegas A-Cafe community) for creating the “warning” poster. Feel free to download the full size version and post it throughout your neighborhood so your friends don’t fall prey to this menace.

Oh yeah, join us!

Help Wanted! Contribute To Nevada Cop Block

Click this Image to find out how you can contribute to NVCopBlock.org

There are many ways you can join Nevada Cop Block and help contribute to our mission to ensure accountability for police crimes and violence. Among many other things, you can submit your own personal story or video involving the police, share a link to a story or video you’ve come across somewhere else on the internet, or invite us to an event you or someone you know is hosting that is related to issues involving the police and/or the judicial system.

You can also become involved on a more direct level in several ways. If you are a writer and are interested in police issues, I’d be happy to talk to you about posting on the site. If you would like to be involved in going out and doing copwatching and filming the police, we’d be happy to discuss joining you and posting any news worthy video that results. Similarly, if you are doing some sort of event and you’d like to have someone from our group involved, we’d be happy to discuss that with you. We’re particularly interested in events that encourage people to film the police and that help familiarize people with their rights.

We’re located in Las Vegas and as a result we have better access to and awareness of stories in Southern Nevada. We don’t, however, limit ourselves to Las Vegas or even Nevada. Whether you live in Nevada or not, I’d be happy to have you contribute in any manner mentioned above and possibly in many other ways that you may want to suggest.

North Las Vegas Cop Faked “Saved by Badge” Shooting

Officer Kolstadt North Las VegasAll men probably daydream of being heroes on occasion. When the daydream ends, we tuck the fantasy away in the back of our minds and await our opportunity. Former North Las Vegas Police Officer Brian Kolstad, 31, was less patient than most of us. Rather than wait for his moment of glory he expedited things a bit by faking his own shooting.

Yeah…

The eight-year veteran, who has since resigned, claimed that he had been engaged against his (imaginary) enemy in a gun battle and would have been mortally wounded had the bullet not struck his badge. Investigators now say that Kolstad used a screwdriver to damage the badge so as to… Well, I don’t really want to get in this guy’s head. It seems like a scary place.

This was originally posted at CopBlock.org