Tag Archives: Am I free to go?

Make Sure You Know How to Assert Your Rights When Harassed and/or Profiled by Police

The following video and the description accompanying it were shared with the CopBlock Network by Rudy Gonzalez Jr., via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

This submission is one of the better videos I’ve seen showing how to calmly, yet firmly, assert your rights and handle yourself when being harassed by the police. And obviously the first thing he does right is filming his interaction with the officers. It begins with Officer Deleon stating that he needs to see Gonzalez’ ID to make sure he “isn’t an illegal alien.” Deleon further states that this is based on the fact that Gonzalez is walking close to a border fence at night.

This is a pretty blatant case of profiling, based on the fact that Gonzalez is of Latino origin. I have very little doubt that if someone of another ethnicity were doing the same that it would be unlikely they would be stopped to check if they are in the country legally. Gonzalez subtly points that out by asking Deleon why he suspects that he is in the country illegally. And of course, much like someone shouldn’t have to prove that they “belong” in a certain neighborhood based on their appearance, people shouldn’t have to arbitrarily prove that they are a citizen (without even going into the many abuses justified and perpetuated by border controls and the hysteria surrounding them) based solely on their appearance, either.

A rather interesting exchange is when Officer Deleon begins asking Gonzalez questions about whether he has any weapons on him and responds to Gonzalez asking for his name and badge number by asking for his name. Each time, Gonzalez asserts his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent by stating, “I don’t answer questions.” In a frustrated voice, Deleon says, “you like to ask questions, though.” As a matter of fact, that is the exact proper way people should handle being questioned by police. The best course of action is to refuse to answer any questions and any conversation that you have with a cop should be to question them about the legalities of the situation in order to clarify if they are being accused of a crime. (Also, in order to get them on record stating what, if any, crime they think you might have committed or admitting that they don’t have any reason to suspect you of a crime.)

Toward the end of the video, Gonzalez turns the tables a bit and begins asking Officer Deleon if he and Officer Spinoza are “illegals.” He follows that up by stating that he needs Deleon to show him three forms of ID to establish if he is in the country legally. The real cherry on top of the whole exchange is when Deleon responds by again requesting ID from Gonzalez.

Gonzalez correctly explains that, unlike police officers, citizens aren’t required to provide ID unless they are suspected of committing a crime (and therefore legally detained) citing the Brown vs. Texas case. Another, more recent, case that pertains to requirements to produce ID is Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police could arrest someone for refusing to identify themselves, but only if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that someone has or was in the process of committing a crime.

In both cases, it was also ruled that citizens are not required to produce physical ID unless they are driving. They are only required to verbally identify themselves. In addition, the requirement even with reasonable suspicion only applies to states that have “stop and identify” statutes. Currently, there are twenty-four such states. The other states require an arrest in order to compel someone to provide identifying information.

Shortly after that, Gonzalez asks, “are you accusing me of committing a crime” and then when Deleon responds that he isn’t asks the Magic Question that lets you know whether you are being detained or just being harassed – “am I being detained?” When Officer Deleon states that he is not being detained, Gonzalez follows up with “then I’m free to go?” Once again Officer Deleon confirms that he is free to go and therefore not being detained. At that point, Gonzalez does the smart thing and simply leaves.

Date of Incident: December 08, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer Deleon Badge #208, Officer Spinoza Badge #858
Department Involved: San Luis (AZ) Police Department
Department Phone No.:
928-341-2420
Department Contact Page:
Contact Us

Video Description (via Youtube):

I was walking home from my job in San Luis, AZ at 1:31am on December 08, 2016. While between San Luis and Gadsden, I was approached by a police officer who accused me of being an illegal immigrant. This is the video and audio documentation.

– Rudy Gonzalez Jr.

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

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Via Submission: Seek Higher Ground Then Stand Firm and Flex Your Rights

The videos and description within this post were shared with the CopBlock Network by a reader named Mike V, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

In the post, Mike describes an encounter he had with two police officers from the Clarkstown Police Department, in New York State. Although it’s not entirely clear if Mike is referring to a romantic relationship or just him moving from his former residence when he mentions a “bad breakup,” he and the landlord are apparently not getting along well. As a result, the landlord called the police on him over where he parked his moving van.

Instead of remaining outside or opening his door to potentially allow the police access to his house, Mike proceeded to talk to them from the roof of the building. Although that’s a bit of an odd choice, Mike has the right idea in doing whatever he can to avoid contact with the police. Generally nothing good can come from that. Oftentimes, such contact leads to a kidnapping, assault, or worse. Even if you have to climb the walls, maintain your distance whenever possible.

Date/Time of Incident: Sept 17th 930pm
Department/Officers Involved: Car 2217 – Clarkstown (NY) Police Department
Department Phone No.: (845) 639-5800
Department Facebook Page: Clarkstown Police Department on Facebook
Department Twitter Account: @Clarkstown PD

Me and the landlord are currently going through a bad breakup. I moved most of my stuff today and came home around 9pm.

After that, I had a friend pick me up and within five minutes my roommate called saying the cops were there because the moving truck was blocking her son from pulling into the driveway.

Part one of the video shows the first encounter as I pulled back up. Part two of the video shows the encounter when they knocked on my front door to talk to me. I wisely talked to them from the roof instead of opening the door and giving the armed thugs access to my house.

I stopped the video too short because they said they were going to ticket the truck for no front license plate after the video ends. I said its on private property and they replied “it’s within 10 ft of the road” I told them to leave the ticket on the windshield and have a good night. The never issued a ticket…

Just more lies, threats, and intimidation tricks, as usual.

Stand your ground everyone. Flex your rights.

– Mike V

Part One:

Part Two:

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Illegally Detained For Filming Williamsport Pennsylvania Courthouse

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Kevin Bradley, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

Kevin describes a situation where he was peacefully and legally filming (sorta) the outside area of some public buildings, including a courthouse, the cityhall, and prison in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. As a result, he was repeatedly detained illegally and harassed by members of the Williamsport Bureau of Police for being a “suspicious person filming.”

In addition to the information below Kevin included this statement:

I think the lawyers in this town won’t touch the case because they are to busy sucking the pig’s dicks!!! So I could use some help finding a lawyer to represent me.

I was using a phone that doesn’t record video only takes pictures at the time, but they didn’t know that. Because of this encounter, I went out and bought a phone that records audio and video.

Date of Incident: August 8, 2016
Department Involved: Williamsport Bureau of Police, Williamsport, Pa
Department Contact:  Chief Gregory Foresman
Department Facebook Page: Williamsport Bureau of Police
Department Phone No.: (570) 327-7543

Looks like I will be filing a lawsuit against the Williamsport Pigs. I was acting like I was videotaping the court house, city hall, and prison.

First I started at the prison. As I start out a SUV pulls in with two prison guards in it. They stopped as soon as they saw me. One got out of the passenger side and stared at me. The other one got out of the driver side and started questioning me. So I said I don’t answer questions. He said, “I just want to talk to you.” So I asked if I was being detained. They then turned and walked away.

I walked over to city hall and walked around filming without any incidents. Then I walked over to the courthouse and around that building. No incidents, once again. So, I walked back to city hall and right away a unmarked car came up the alley and stopped in front of me.

A plain clothes cop got out and the first thing I asked was his name and badge number. He gave it to me and then another one got out so I asked for his name and badge number, but he just stared at me. The first one asked what I was doing, and I said, “WTF does it look like I am doing? Then I asked if I was being detained and he said, “no.” So, I said, “OK, then I am leaving. Bye.

I walked over to the prison again with no incidents. I then walked back up to the courthouse and was walking around when a female cop started questioning me. I told her I don’t answer questions and asked, “am I being detained.” She said no, but that she just wants to talk to me. As I turned to walk away, she kept trying to detain me and asking for ID.

I asked two more times if I am being detained. She said no, but kept following me. About this time I was getting irate that she wouldn’t let me leave. She had called for backup and two more cops soon arrive and also started asking me for ID. I asked again if I was being detained and they then said yes.

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So I ask what crime I had committed that gave them the authority to detain me. They said that I was a suspicious person filming. I told them that is not a crime and that PA is not a stop and ID state. I asked them for name and badge ‪numbers‬, but they all refused.

I then asked for a supervisor and found out that he was already walking out of the courthouse. After about 10 minutes of me asking why I was being detained, the supervisor walked away to make a phone call, then walked back over and said I was free to go.

My phone doesn’t even record video. It only takes pictures, but those dumbasses didn’t know that at the time. I went over to my lawyer’s office and told them what happened. I will be talking to him at one o’clock today. However, the lawyer said he can’t take the case because one of his staff was a witness and it would be a conflict of interest.

– Kevin Bradley

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Know Your Rights! A Few Simple Questions to Ask When Stopped by the Police

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Shawn Peterman of Southeast Alabama Cop Block shared this post, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

A little knowledge and a few words can go a LONG way toward getting a cop to leave you alone and move on to easier prey.

Two simple phrases that could change the way the police deal with people everywhere:

  1. “Officer, am I being detained or am I free to go?” Saying that line will usually make a cop believe that you are very aware of your rights (even if you’re not). It will also usually encourage him/her leave you alone and look for easier prey. In order to detain you, he/she must at least suspect you of committing a specific crime.
  2. “Officer, I am not resisting you, but I do not consent to ANY searches.” Say that loud and clear, and in front of witnesses. Prisons are full of people who claim that the cops put drugs in their vehicles. True or not, saying this will usually stop cops from searching or least make them send for a dog. In either case, this will often encourage them find easier prey.

Bonus:

“Officer, I’d prefer to not produce ID at this time. What crime do you suspect me of committing?”

Great line for a pedestrian stop. While you have to show ID in a traffic stop in Alabama (and most other states), according to Alabama law (2006 Alabama Code – Section 15-5-30) law enforcement is only able to demand ID from a person that he/she “reasonably suspects is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a felony or other public offense.” Even then, he’s only allowed to demand your name, address and your reason for being where you are. Check your local laws. Remember this the next time you’re walking down the street and a cop appears and demands your papers.

For more information, check out: www.flexyourrights.org, www.copblock.org facebook.com/southeastalabamacopblock

– Shawn Peterman
Southeast Alabama Cop Block

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

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“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?

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