Tag Archives: Bill of Rights

First Amendment Audit: Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt John Toledano Unlawfully Detains Videographers Filming in Public

California Guardian High Desert Community Watch First Amendment Audit Illegal Detention

Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Toledano handcuffed and illegally detained “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” during a First Amendment Audit by order of the FBI for legally filming in public.

Note: The video and description included within this post were shared with Nevada Cop Block via an anonymous reader submission. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

As is mentioned in the description, this video shows what is known as a “First Amendment Audit.” That consists of going out and filming government buildings and other public property. Oftentimes, the police, security guards, government employees, and even members of the public don’t understand that the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take photos and/or record video of anything that is within view of a public place.

Obviously, this video is very much an example of that (commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them). After initially confronting them and asking for ID, Sgt. Toledano (along with two other unidentified officers) handcuffed the two men who go by the pseudonyms “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” publicly.

Both of them were then forced to sit in the back of a police vehicle and threatened with trespassing citations, although they never at any time entered private property. According to what Sgt. Toledago states on the video, this illegal detention was at ordered by the FBI. Eventually, they were both released without any charges.

As already stated, you obviously can legally film in public. Also, you are not required to identify yourself unless a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you have committed, are in the process of committing, or are about to commit a crime (the requirement to be legally detained). And legally they can’t seize your camera (or any other personal property) unless they have actually arrested you or obtained a warrant or subpoena for specific content on it.

One of the main reasons for doing First Amendment Audits is to test whether the police or security officers understand the law regarding filming in public spaces. Also, part of that reasoning is making them understand that it is legal and thereby deter them from harassing people filming in the future.

Date of Incident: April 11, 2017
Officer Involved: Sgt. John Toledano
Department Involved: Imperial County (CA) Sheriff’s Office
Facebook Page:
Imperial County Sheriff’s Office
Twitter Account:

Instagram Account:
Imperial County Sheriff
Department Phone No.:
(442) 265-2005
Department Email: Sheriff Raymond Loera

Adam (California Guardian) and Phillip (High Desert Community Watch) were down in Imperial County video recording when a Deputy Sheriff, Sgt Toledano, stopped them and unlawfully detained them on behalf of the FBI for the sole intent of identifying them with no suspicion that they had violated any crime.

Adam and Phillip were cuffed, placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and driven down around the corner to await the arrival of the FBI. Adam and Phillip never provided identification and were released after being given detention slips in the name of John Doe.

Both detention slips used Calif. Penal Code 647 (h) – “prowling” – as an excuse. Adam and Philip never entered any private property and remained on the public right of way (sidewalk) during their recording.

The men in the video frequently post First Amendment Audits and other videos to their Youtube channels: “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch.” You can support them by making donations via GoFundMe: California Guardian and High Desert Community Watch News Network. Although they sometimes travel to other areas, as the psuedonyms they use indicate, these two auditors live in Southern California.

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First Amendment Audit: Military Police Officer Harasses Woman Legally Taking Pictures at Randolph Air Force Base, TX

Filming Randolph Air Force Base TX First Amendment Audit

During a “First Amendment Audit,” a woman legally taking pictures in public is harassed by Randolph Air Force Base Security Forces Officer A. Delarosa, who incorrectly tells her that it is illegal to do so outside the base and attempts to get her to identify herself.

Note: The video and description included within this post were shared with Nevada Cop Block via an anonymous reader submission. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

As is mentioned in the description, this video shows what is known as a “First Amendment Audit.” That consists of going out and filming government buildings and other public property. Oftentimes, the police, security guards, government employees, and even members of the public don’t understand that the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take photos and/or record video of anything that is within view of a public place.

This video is an example of that (commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them), due to Randolph Air Force Base Security Forces Officer Delarosa’s repeated assertions that she can’t take any photos of the base unless she has permission from their public affairs department. He also asked for her name or if she has ID on her numerous times and at one point states that if she does continue taking photos he might steal her camera (AKA “confiscating” it – when done by government workers).

Although, Officer Delarosa does seem to be genuinely confused about the law and the civil rights issues involved, he’s wrong about pretty much everything. As already stated, you obviously can legally film in public. Also, you are not required to identify yourself unless a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you have committed, are in the process of committing, or are about to commit a crime. And, of course, they can’t seize your camera unless they have actually arrested you or obtained a warrant or subpoena for specific content on it.

One of the main reasons for doing First Amendment Audits is to test whether the police or security officers understand the law regarding filming in public spaces. Also, another reason is to make them understand that it is legal and deter them from harassing people filming in the future. This is a pretty good example of that, as Officer Delarosa is eventually told he is incorrect about her not being allowed to take photos from the public areas next to the road by the Universal City Police officers that he had called.

Date of Incident: April 10, 2017
Officer Involved: Officer Delarosa
Department(s) Involved: Randolph Air Base Military Police/Security Forces, Universal City Police Department

I went to visit Texas to do a First Amendment audit, which is basically taking pictures of government installations from public places.

One of the places I went to was Randolph Air Force Base in Universal City, Texas, which is a suburb of San Antonio. As soon as I started to snap pictures I was approached by Officer Delarosa, who said I could not take pictures and threatened to take my camera. He also lied about the property lines to me.

After realizing that where I was located was out of their jurisdiction, AKA not on the base, they had to call Universal City Police. The officers from Universal City came out and spoke with me briefly. They were very pleasant and respected my right to film in a public place. Officer Delarosa and his partner on the other hand learned a quick lesson on the First Amendment.

– Amanarchy

The woman in the video (AKA “It’s That Magic You Crave“) frequently posts First Amendment Audits and other videos to her Youtube channel: “Pink Camera Magic.” You can support her by making donations to her via GoFundMe. Also, although they are off camera and only heard briefly, two other auditors that live in San Antonio, who go by the pseudonyms “SAEXTAZYPREZ” and “Buc-G,” were there filming her from a distance.

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Homemade Shotgun Turned In For $100 at Minnesota “Buyback” Program Showcases the Futility of Gun Bans

Minnesota Buyback Program Wood Pipe ShotgunAlthough largely ineffective and mostly just for show, gun “buyback” programs are pretty common nationwide. They allow local governments and police departments to put out PR stories saying that they have removed “X” amount of guns from potentially falling into the hands of criminals. In reality, the low amounts paid for guns turned in at these type of dog and pony shows pretty much guarantee that the vast majority of those participating will only be giving up unwanted and often poorly maintained guns that barely fit the requirement that they be in working order, if at all.

Earlier this week, during a buyback program held by the Minneapolis Police Department someone took that to the next level and turned in a block of wood with a pipe duct taped to it in exchange for a $100 dollar gift card.

Via the Washington Free Beacon:

Minneapolis police purchased a homemade shotgun consisting of a piece of wood and lead pipe during a gun buyback program on Saturday.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a state-based gun rights groups, announced on its Facebook page that a man had been paid $100 in gift certificates for a makeshift shotgun at the event. A picture of the shotgun posted on the group’s page illustrates the primitive nature of the firearm. The serial number, written in marker on the piece of wood, reads “BuyBacksDontWork01” and demonstrates the gun was created as a statement against such programs.

The original Facebook post by Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus:

Some people have expressed doubt about whether the story was real based on the idea that the gun was “obviously” not a functional weapon and wouldn’t be accepted. However, Minneapolis police spokeswoman Catherine Micheal confirmed that it was accepted during the buyback event, stating that it had been inspected and found to be operable in spite of it’s crude construction. And in all likelihood it is very much the case that this chunk of wood and pipe is a legitimate shotgun.

While that construction is incredibly crude, this type of shotgun is in fact a real and very functional firearm. Known as “slam fire shotguns,” homemade, manually fired shotguns are a real thing. Essentially, they consist of two pieces of pipe, a firing pin, and an improvised handle. The firing pin is installed within one of the pipes which is slightly larger in diameter than the pipe that holds the shotgun shell and is placed within the larger pipe. In order to fire the gun, the inner pipe is manually pulled back against the firing pin.

The design of these improvised weapons can be extremely rudimentary as in this case, however just by putting a little more work into it and upgrading the materials used, slam fire shotguns can be turned into very effective, but cheap weapons. If you watch the video embedded below, you’ll see an example of just how much potential one of these could have in the hands of a knowledgeable and skilled gun enthusiast.

Much of the reaction to this story has been to mock the effectiveness of gun buyback programs. There’s plenty of good reason for that. Now that this has gained a bit of attention people opposed to gun restrictions could set out to thwart buybacks by spending a few dollars (or less) on building a slam fire shotgun simply to turn it in at one. In fact, someone has reportedly already (this time unsuccessfully) attempted to try that approach by showing up at one such event with a “duffel bag full” of them. Of course, it wouldn’t be long before the police responded by not accepting them or making the exchange value low enough that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

There is a larger point that this highlights about gun bans, though. It’s simply impossible to legislate gun possession out of existence. One of the biggest flaws in the idea of gun bans is that, unless Superman comes along and uses his super speed to round up every gun in the world, then squeezes them into a giant ball and throws them out into space, guns will still exist and criminals will still acquire guns. In fact, the reality shown by this is that even if he did that and then every gun factory on the planet was bulldozed people would still have the ability to fairly easily manufacture a firearm that they could then throw at Superman after he deflects all their bullets. (I’m purposely leaving out the fact that gun bans never actually apply to all weapons just for the sake of argument.)

Zip guns, which slam-fire shotguns are a subset of, are nothing new. They were widely used by resistance forces in occupied areas during the Second World War. They were simply and cheaply made and could more than likely be accomplished as a “DIY” project. The United States Army even had a mass produced version of a zip gun made with the intention of airdropping them en masse into Nazi occupied territories of Europe. While they were not particularly accurate, long lasting, or effective when compared to military issue weapons, you potentially only had to use them once against an occupying soldier in order to acquire a better firearm.

Slam fire shotguns are legal in almost all states within the United States, but are mostly owned by collectors or people who just appreciate the novelty of them here. That’s because of the availability of professionally constructed guns within the country. However, not surprisingly, zip guns are quite popular in places with restrictive or outright prohibitions on guns.

Via Wikipedia:

Improvised firearms are most commonly encountered in regions with restrictive gun control laws. While popular in the United States in the 1950s, the “zip gun” has become less common because of the greater ease of obtaining firearms. In India, use of improvised country-made pistols is widespread, especially in the regions of Bihar and Purvanchal. The manufacture of these weapons has become a cottage industry, and the components are often manufactured from scrap material, such as gun barrels fashioned from trucksteering wheels.[3] In areas like South Africa, improvised firearms are more common. In a study of Zululand District Municipality, South Africa, it was found that most improvised firearms were crude, 12-gauge shotguns, with a simple pull and release firing mechanism; like the .22 rimfire cartridges; shotgun shells also operate at low pressures, making them more suited for use in weak, improvised barrels.[8] Even in the absence of ammunition, homemade powder can be used; such firearms were the subject of a crackdown in the People’s Republic of China in 2008.[6]

People will find a way.

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Federal Judge Richard Posner Sees No Value in Studying “Outdated” Constitution

According to Judge Richard Posner, of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the “eighteenth-century guys” responsible for writing the Constitution could never have foreseen modern culture and technology.

Therefore, in his eyes, it’s just a waste of time for judges to study the Constitution and the history behind it, since it’s irrelevant to today.

Those comments came in an article as part of an ongoing series of articles entitled the “Supreme Court Breakfast Table,” which bills itself as, “An email conversation about the news of the day.” It’s hosted at Slate.com and features a discussion of issues relating to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Justices.

Within that post on June 24th, Judge Posner stated:

I see absolutely no value to a judge of spending decades, years, months, weeks, day, hours, minutes, or seconds studying the Constitution, the history of its enactment, its amendments, and its implementation (across the centuries—well, just a little more than two centuries, and of course less for many of the amendments). Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century. Which means that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post–Civil War amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today. David Strauss is right: The Supreme Court treats the Constitution like it is authorizing the court to create a common law of constitutional law, based on current concerns, not what those 18th-century guys were worrying about.

In short, let’s not let the dead bury the living.

Nor, according to Mediaite.com, is this the first time Judge Posner has expressed that he gives no fucks about the Constitution and its old-timey ways:

Posner, an influential jurist who has served as a federal judge for thirty-five years, has previously voiced his disregard for the Constitution. “I’m not particularly interested in the 18th Century, nor am I particularly interested in the text of the Constitution. I don’t believe that any document drafted in the 18th century can guide our behavior today,” he said during a 2015 colloquium.

Judge Richard Posner 7th CircuitThis is why the reliance on the courts and the Constitution itself for justice is an exercise in futility. Regardless of what the original founders meant when they wrote it, the people wearing those robes right now are the ones that interpret it now and guess who they work for.

I can give you this little hint if you need it. Whenever you end up in court it will be the same people that guy sitting at the other table works for. It will also be the same people those guys that escorted you into that courtroom work for.

Some of them, like Judge Posner, don’t even pretend to respect the protections the Constitution supposedly provide. Recent rulings essentially eliminating Fourth Amendment protections should be evidence enough that he’s not alone in that disdain.

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Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies Cite “Constitutionalists” as a Justification for MRAP Vehicle

The video above and the description below was shared with the CopBlock Network by “General Gonzo S. Patton,” via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. Along with the video description, he states, “I despise this attitude in these Chickenshit Ticket Writers.”

The video was originally posted by Alex JonesInfowars channel on Youtube back in 2014. It features a conversation between an unidentified “local resident” and two Spokane County Sheriff‘s deputies relating to the necessity of having a MRAP military vehicle and whether a group of children, who the deputies state were being given a ride, are being conditioned to accept the militarization of the police.

The deputies’ response to the questioning of the necessity of surplus military vehicles being passed on to local police departments is somewhat interesting. One of them states, “we’ve got a lot of Constitutionalists and a lot of people that stockpile weapons, lots of ammunition. They have weapons here locally.”

December 17, 2014

Department Involved: Spokane County (WA) Sheriff’s Office
Department Phone Number: (509) 477-4754
Citizen Complaints: Complaint Form (PDF)
Facebook Page: Spokane County Sheriff’s Office on FB
Twitter Account: Spokane Sheriff Office
Youtube Channel: Spokane Sheriff

The link was forwarded to me and is outdated, but serves as a reminder that our Heroes and Chickenshit Ticket Writers look upon those of us who believe in liberty, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution with disdain. I am posting this as someone who taught at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission for nine years and when I graduated from the CJTC, I graduated top in my class, carried a badge and actually believed in the motto: Protect and Serve. This is rogue behavior and part of why I retired.

– General Gonzo S. Patton

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Pennsylvania Police Cite Man for Exercising Freedom of Speech

The videos and commentary included within this post were submitted by Robert H. Eastman, via the CopBlock.org Submissions page.

Date of Incident: November 25, 2015
Officer Involved: Officer Mack, Sergeant Lesheski
Department Involved: Sharon (PA) Police Department
Contact Number: (724) 983-3210

On 11/25/2015, I was using a small P.A. system to speak about the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. From 9 am to around 3 pm, I stood on the corner of East State Street and Vine Avenue.

After a while and having received lots of general encouragement and thanks from passersby, someone asked that I keep it down. I said I would do my best, but being on main road I still was louder than I wanted to be.

Finally, when I was packing up an officer from the Sharon Police Department approached me. He stated that Mack was his name. He then began to threaten me with arrest or a ticket for disturbing the public because someone had taken offense to me voicing my opinion about the law of the Constitution.

Efficient-GovernmentI informed him that he had no power under the Tenth Amendment to arrest or cite me for any crime, unless it was Constitutional. The rest is all in the video. He threatened to take action if he received any more calls. I told him he would have to and that I was moving down the street. Both videos can be found at the above link to YouTube.

Thank you for your interest in the rights outlined by the Constitution.

– Robert H. Eastman

Part One

Part Two

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Andrew Henderson Meets with Minn. Chief Over Previous Police Intimidation For Filming

Andrew Henderson Police ReportRecently, Ademo posted about an interaction Andrew Henderson, a CopBlocker from the St. Paul area in Minnesota, had with a police officer who had tried to intimidate him because he was filming near a police station. This happened shortly after the St. Paul Police Department held a seat belt enforcement campaign that was really just a thinly veiled opportunity for revenue generation.

Knowing that many police themselves don’t wear seat belts when driving, Andrew decided to go down to a location near the police station and film to see how many he could find disregarding the rule that they had just placed such a heavy emphasis on for regular citizens. Not surprisingly, he had no problem whatsoever spotting officers hypocritically ignoring the seat belt law.

Not long after, an employee of the St. Paul Police Department, Officer Alba-Reyes, drove up to where Henderson was filming. During the interaction between Alba-Reyes and Andrew (which can be viewed in its entirety in the video below), the officer misstates several laws, including that he has a right to detain Henderson for filming and that the public sidewalk is actually private property. He then threatens to arrest him “if he continues trespassing on private property.”

About a month later, Andrew had a meeting with St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith concerning this incident and the behavior of that officer. This included several inconsistencies and omissions within the official police report that was filed by Alba-Reyes. However, it apparently didn’t include an update on the St. Paul Police Department’s investigation into whether public sidewalks are in fact public or private property. (Make sure you check out Andrew’s YouTube channel for lots of great informative videos.)

During my meeting with Chief Tom Smith, I expressed my concerns on my encounter with officer Armando Alba-Reyes while…

Posted by Andrew J Henderson on Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Below is Andrews summary of that meeting via a Facebook post:

During my meeting with Chief Tom Smith, I expressed my concerns on my encounter with officer Armando Alba-Reyes while recording police officers from a public sidewalk.

  • Officer Alba-Reyes stated in his report that I was using a “bypod”, which I was not. I do not own or have ever used a bipod. The pictures he took would have proved this.
  • Officer Alba-Reyes seemed to believe that I do not have access to the Saint Paul Police policy manual, though it is publicly available at: http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/View/70740.
  • Once I was threatened with arrest if I did not leave, I immediately walked to my vehicle and drove home, and did not continue to film vehicles as officer Alba-Reyes stated in his report, the video can be found here: https://youtu.be/J9P-4kV7Z9k.
  • Officer Alba-Reyes never turned in the pictures he took of me to the Saint Paul Police Department data vault as he is required to under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 13, and did not include them in this report.
  • There was a dashcam in the police vehicle as indicated in the report, but officer Alba-Reyes either did not turn it on or decided to not upload the content to the Saint Paul Police Department data vault.

The encounter can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/ONQXJjY_Yfk?t=4m38s (Also embedded below – editor)

Chief Smith understood my concerns, but could not give me answers as to why Officer Alba-Reyes report was not entirely factual or what happened to the photos he took of me.

I encouraged Chief Smith to adopt a policy regarding citizens filming law enforcement officers as recommended by the Department of Justice (http://www.justice.gov/…/spl/documents/Sharp_ltr_5-14-12.pdf), in addition to submitting a couple of policies to him and his staff from other agencies such as the District of Columbia Police Department (https://go.mpdconline.com/GO/GO_304_19.pdf) and the Department of Homeland Security (http://mocek.org/…/2…/06/DHS-FPS-Bulletin-HQ-IB-012-2010.pdf), as well as case law about citizens First Amendment right to document law enforcement personnel engaged in their public duties (http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/10-1764P-01A.pdf), and to better train officers on engagement with those who chronicle police occurrences.

I hope Chief Smith will take this opportunity to transition and advance with this paradigm shift in policing.

Click banner to learn more about filming the police

Click banner to learn more about filming the police

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Game Over for Insert Coins’ and Their Abusive Bouncers (Update)

Game Over Insert CoinsApparently, Downtown Las Vegas bar-hoppers aren’t quite as quick to back abusive bouncers as Chris LaPorte, the owner of Insert Coins, was after a video (embedded below) of a man being beaten out front of his Fremont Street bar became public. Citing “a rapidly changing DTLV business environment” and the tough economy, it was announced July 9th that the previous night would be the last one for Insert Coins.

That was later revised to characterize it as a temporary closing, but don’t hold your breath waiting to play shitty, broken video games and buy overpriced drinks after paying an inflated cover charge in Las Vegas again. What closes in Vegas stays closed.

Insert Coins Protest2As was reported here at CopBlock.org as well as other places, such as PhotographyIsNotACrime.com, on February 12th there was an incident involving bouncers from several “Fremont East” bars. Bouncers from Insert Coin(s) initiated a confrontation by demanding a man move from the public sidewalk in front of their location, even though they had no actual authority to do so. When that man refused three of those bouncers knocked him to the ground and punched and choked him for a full minute after he was already down.

banner-storeWhile that was going on a passerby began recording it with his cellphone. Another bouncer from the Vanguard, which is located next door tried to prevent him from filming the beating. Finally, yet another bouncer from the Griffin crossed the street, grabbed his phone, smashed it on the ground, and then assaulted him, also.

Insert Coins Protest6Even though you can very clearly see the bouncers assaulting the man and not stopping even after he’s down on the ground and defenseless in the video, LaPorte refused to acknowledge they were wrong and even stated that he watched surveillance video of the altercation and that he “backs my guys.” He maintained that stance even after the Griffin actually did the right thing and fired the bouncer that broke the witness’ phone. Instead, LaPorte comically implored everyone to “get the whole story before believing what you see.”

Not surprisingly, some people in the community weren’t so willing to close their eyes during that video and blindly back Chris’ guys. A series of protests organized primarily by Nevada Cop Block and Southern Nevada Watchdogs, a local grassroots organization based in Las Vegas, followed over the next few weeks. Since it was claimed that the “transgression” of the man who was beaten was dancing on the sidewalk in front of their bar, one of the biggest and most publicized of the many held was dubbed the “Dance, Dance Revolution.”  That and others, including numerous impromptu protests involved the use of chalk messages and showing potential customers the video as they approached the entrance to Insert Coins to draw attention to the bouncers’ actions.

Hmmm…”financial challenges this year that [Insert Coins] cannot sustain”.

If they were more specific, they would say that their security guard brutally beat a homeless man for no reason and the public stopped going there (after weeks of protests).

Facebook post by Stephen Stubbs on Thursday, July 9, 2015

Insert Coins We Can DanceThe economy is still kinda crappy in Vegas and the bloom is just about completely off the Zappos rose in “the #DTLV.” So, I don’t really doubt those factors also played a part in Insert Coins getting unplugged. But you know what doesn’t help that when you’re a customer service based business? A giant PR disaster that’s so badly handled it turns into a month long public denouncement of your business. Even an eleventh hour attempt to donate to a group that gives food to local homeless people wasn’t enough to make that stink go away.

Insert Coins ChalkedI’m sure those bouncers were glad Chris LaPorte backs “his guys,” even when they violently attack people on video after one of them started a fight with that person (for no good reason). The rest of the former Insert Coins employees might not be so glad that they are all out looking for a job (during that crappy Vegas economy) because of the actions of three individuals, who were pretty clearly wrong regardless of what angle you watch them beat and choke a guy laying on the ground for over a full minute from.

It’s also a bit of an example of what might happen in response to all the police brutality and lack of any accountability at all, if a government mandated monopoly on police services didn’t remove any options people have for law enforcement and protection outside of the one committing all those beatings and murders then covering up for it.

**Disclaimer** This example of a very successful result to a chalk protest was not intentionally timed to promote the annual “Chalk the Police State” Day protests scheduled for July 18th. The fact that the closing of Insert Coins was announced the same day as the post for Chalk the Police State Day 2015 was published is pure coincidence (or was it).**

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St. Paul, MN Police Launch Investigation into if Sidewalks are Public or Private Property

Andrew Henderson

Recently, a post on CopBlock.org detailed how Andrew Henderson, a CopBlock member from St. Paul, Minnesota, was detained and harassed by the police there while he was filming as part of a test to see how many cops actually wore their seatbelts. Andrew had decided to do so after the St. Paul Police Department held a massive campaign to stop and ticket people for not wearing their seatbelts. He wanted to show the hypocrisy of the police, who are well known for not wearing seatbelts themselves, and for whom one of the leading causes of on the job deaths (far exceeding those of violence from suspects) is car accidents.

After he had documented several police cars and the police officers inside, none of whom were actually wearing seat belts, he was subsequently detained, questioned, and forced to show ID by Officer Armando Abla-Reyes. Officer Abla-Reyes incorrectly informed him that he could be detained for filming in public and also incorrectly stated that the sidewalk he was standing on was private property, threatening to arrest Henderson for trespassing, if he didn’t leave the area.

Now according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the massive attention that video caused has prompted the St. Paul Police Department to launch an investigation into whether sidewalks are public property (spoiler: they are):

“It brought up a question: What is public, what is private?” Sgt. Paul Paulos, a St. Paul police spokesman, said Wednesday. “What we’ll also do is reach out to the city attorney’s office to get a finer definition…”

City Attorney Samuel Clark said Wednesday that his office is working with the police department “to clarify the rights of way applicable to the sidewalks around the public-safety buildings in the area…”

Paulos said Wednesday the department will provide more instruction to officers about the area around the police department, and what is public and what is private.

Minnesota Police Public Sidewalk Private Property

None of those arrows are pointing at private property.

So, they’re going to get to the bottom of that thing the Supreme Court already decided decades ago. In the meantime, there’s a lot of hyperbole from the head of the police union about how much police are under fire these days and how it’s a reasonable threat worthy of detaining someone for filming the police or public buildings. However, as already stated the leading cause of on duty deaths for police, by far, are car accidents and, contrary to the other blatant lie in the article that “99.9%” cops wear their seatbelts, the fact that police often don’t wear them is a big contributor to that. Of course, if they weren’t out generating revenue by giving other people tickets for that very same behavior, that would be their problem.

Hopefully, they’ll get that whole public/private thing figured out soon, though. That way they join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Andrew Henderson’s original video:

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Security on Fremont St. Beat Man Then Obstruct, Assault, and Threaten Witness (Updates)

Insert Coin Security Fremont Street BeatingThis video, which was just posted on Stephen Stubbs’ YouTube channel, was received via the NVCopBlock.org post submission page. As is detailed in the video description (quoted below) on YouTube, this shows security guards employed by “Insert Coins,” a bar on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, unnecessarily beating a man on the sidewalk in front of the business.

**NOTE**

This is a developing story and there have been several updates and new developements, since it was originally posted. Those updates have been (and will continue to be) added at the bottom, below the video.

Although public sidewalks aren’t actually owned by the private businesses near them (there does seem to be some confusion about that throughout Las Vegas), the video doesn’t show what happened right before the security guards assault the man. So, without arguing about the validity of their initial actions (even though I’ve been told that the bouncers instigated the incident – see updates below the post), once the man is down he is clearly not a threat to three large bouncers, while already restrained on the ground. There’s no reason whatsoever to continue choking and hitting someone in that situation.

What’s even more telling is the fact that another security guard from the Vanguard Lounge, which is next door to Insert Coins, realizes someone is filming and does his best to obscure what is happening as they continue beating the man for almost a full minute on the video. Beyond that, we don’t actually know what happens to the man being attacked or for exactly how long. That’s because a different security guard from the Beauty Bar Griffin (see updates below for explanation of correction), another bar located on Fremont St, comes across the street, steals and then breaks the witness’ phone, and reportedly assaults him, as well.

Furthermore, the witness states that he waited for the police to show up in order to provide evidence of what happened. Instead of conducting an investigation and talking with a potential witness, the Metro officer that responded ordered him to “Get the [email protected]!! out of here.” In theory, cops themselves are supposed to be impartial mediators that gather evidence and determine if there is sufficient cause to believe a crime may have been committed not someone that personally decides the guilt or innocence of those involved in a dispute. Turning away an independent witness with video evidence of exactly what transpired and who himself may have been assaulted by someone involved with the incident shows a clear bias and lack of any desire to act as such.

From the YouTube video description:

On the evening of February 12, 2015, A man (who appeared to be homeless and/or under the influence of drugs/alcohol) was dancing on the sidewalk in front of Insert Coins on Fremont Street.

Security guards were yelling at him to leave and the dancing man ignored them (continued dancing). When the Security guards taunted the dancing man to attack them, my client (who does not wish to come forward with his identity) took out his phone and started recording.

A security guard attacked the dancing man, beat him up and continued to choke and beat him even after he was lying motionless on the ground. A plain closed security guard tried to obstruct my client from videotaping the incident and even physically pushed him away.

A security guard from the Beauty Bar on Fremont then crossed the street, attacked my client, grabbed his phone and smashed it on the ground (destroying it).

My client waited for the police, tried to make a statement and told LVMPD that he had video. A LVMPD Officer ordered him to “Get the [email protected]!! out of here. This doesn’t concern you”. My client left (fearing that he would be arrested) and contacted me.

 

**UPDATES AND CORRECTION**

There are several updates to this post since it was originally written:

Insert Coins Twitter Response

Don’t believe your lyin eyes

First, it has been determined that while the bouncer (who shows up at the very end of the video) responsible for breaking the witnesses phone and allegedly assaulting him did come from the direction of the Beauty Bar, he actually works for the Griffin, which is next door to the Beauty Bar and directly across the street from Insert Coins. That has been corrected within the original post.

Second, the Owner of Insert Coins, Chris LaPorte, has issued several statements, via Facebook and Twitter, responding to the incident. They’re pretty bad in general and even embarrassingly so, in the case of the one on Twitter. In response to a tweet by SNWatchdogs (an awesome local group that, as the name implies, works to expose corruption) including a link to the video, using the Insert Coins account he states that people shouldn’t “believe what you see,” because apparently the “whole story” is somehow going to counteract what everyone can, in fact, pretty clearly see on the video. Regardless of what might have happened just prior, once someone is down on the ground and not fighting or resisting in any way beating and choking them isn’t justified:

@SNWatchdogs Get the whole story before believing what you see. @ChrisOfCoins – Owner Insert Coin(s) [email protected] #Vegas #DTLV

The Facebook post is more along the lines of I support my guys, Stephen Stubbs is a dirty liar and I have video that shows they did nothing wrong while beating that guy that was lying on the ground defenseless, then interfering with a witness who was well within his rights to record what was happening, and it’s rude to point:

I would like to point out to those questioning my security staff’s professionalism at Insert Coin(s) that any allegation of wrong doing is inherently false and while a video is floating around the internet about a violent takedown by way of a Stephen Stubbs it can easily be proved misleading with surveillance camera footage currently being reviewed by Metro. I stand by my staff and ask those to think twice before pointing fingers at my team. Thank you. – Chris LaPorte via Facebook

Finally, Stephen Stubbs posted this statement as an update to Facebook after meeting with Chris LaPorte and viewing this magical video (which includes the clarification of the identity of the bouncer responsible for breaking the witness’ phone). Apparently, after watching the video and getting the “whole story,” he still believes what he saw:

On the evening of February 14, 2015, I met with Chris [owner of Insert Coin(s)] at his establishment. We went upstairs and he showed me the security footage. It was clear from the video that the Insert Coin(s) security guard instigated the physical contact on the public sidewalk. The security guard push the homeless man, pushed him again, and then shoved him violently to the ground.

The security guard had a tiny 1/8 inch scratch under his eye (I saw the picture) and he claims the tiny scratch is the result of the homeless man punching him (again, the security camera doesn’t show that punch).

Also, the security guard that assaulted the cameraman and destroyed his phone works for The Griffin on Fremont Street (he approached from in front of the Beauty Bar but is in no way connected to the Beauty Bar).

***MORE UPDATES***

Protest Staged

Last night (February 16, 2015), members of Nevada Cop Block and SNWatchdogs staged a public protest, which included chalking and making the video available for passersby to view, on Fremont Street in front of Insert Coin(s) and the Griffin to bring attention to this incident. Below are some pictures from the protest (click the thumbnails for full size):
Insert Coins ProtestInsert Coins Protest2Insert Coins Protest3Insert Coins Protest4Insert Coins Protest6Insert Coins Protest5

Bouncer Who Broke Phone Fired by the Griffin

Griffin Bouncer UpdateThe next day (February 17 2015), I received information that the Griffin had contacted Stephen Stubbs, who is representing the man whose phone was broken while he filmed the incident. They stated that they had fired the bouncer that broke the phone and that they also would be replacing the damaged phone (via Stephen Stubbs’ FaceBook page):

Update on the unfortunate February 12, 2015 incident in front of Insert Coins:

I just received a call from The Griffin Bar. The security staff member that left his station and destroyed the cell phone of the person taking the video has been fired for violating policy. The Griffin Bar made it clear that his actions do not represent what they stand for, and they took care of the situation. The Griffin Bar is also replacing the destroyed phone.

As far as I’m concerned, The Griffin Bar has done everything that they could do to make up for the situation. Their staff did not participate in the beating and I am glad that they stepped up to take care of things. I consider the matter against The Griffin Bar to be closed.

Please like and share to spread the word. I think they should get props for this. No bar can 100% control their employees and they acted swiftly.

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