Tag Archives: chalking sidewalks

Security Guard With a Criminal Justice Degree; Knows Pretty Much Nothing About the Law

Stupid Security Guard Zappos AcmeRecently, members of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective were doing a chalk protest on the sidewalks in front of the Zappos Headquarters in Las Vegas. Although Zappos is a private entity, we often protest against them because they use their money and influence to buy land from the city at huge “discounts.” They also leverage that ability to acquire cheap property to drive long standing businesses out of the downtown area. It’s gentrification and cronyism at its worst. They literally bought city hall and it’s not just a metaphor. They have a tight leash on Mayor Carolyn Goodman and most of the City Council members.

They have pushed for and had passed on their behalf laws and city policies, such as beverage sales restrictions and age based curfews, that target their competition (liquor stores) and give police the opportunity to harass people who might be downtown, but that aren’t frequenting the bars that they own or sponsor. Other ordinances they have used their influence to get passed have also targeted street performers, who they also see as competition for the bars, and homeless people.

Security Guard Bachelors Degree Zappos AcmeAs we were in the process of chalking, one of their security guards (the company they work for directly is “Acme Security”) came out and very aggressively tried to claim we couldn’t write on “their property.” Another security guard showed up shortly after and was also acting very aggressive and was equally confused about basic property laws. A third security guard was there, but stayed more or less in the background.

We informed them that the public sidewalk was not their property. Then the first security guard threatened to call the police and also said that we didn’t have his consent to film, which we don’t actually need when filming in public. After we pointed out that he probably should learn basic law if he’s going to work in security, he stated that he was not “just a stupid security guard” and that he “has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.”

Just a Stupid Security Guard Zappos AcmeEventually, after about ten minutes, two LVMPD officers showed up (two more cars also arrived while they were there, but it was basically over by then) and told him he was wrong and we were not breaking the law by chalking on public sidewalks or filming him in public view. It was actually rather humorous (in light of the security guard’s earlier claims about his education) when one of them remarked to us, after I brought up their lack of understanding of basic property law, that they are “just security guards. What do you expect?” (Then everyone laughed.)

There’s really several morals to this story:

Two years ago, three other people and I were arrested for simply writing on sidewalks with “sidewalk” chalk. In total, five of us faced bogus and ridiculous graffiti charges that could have potentially resulted in four years of jail time. Although we’d been harassed a pretty good amount prior to the arrests and for some time after, at this point whenever the police show up, they generally tell us we are doing nothing wrong and then leave.

Because Fuck You (I'm Batman)

Because Fuck You (I’m Batman)

Part of that is undoubtedly due to the lawsuit we filed over those arrests citing the prior harassment. However, the fact that we were vindicated in our original case made it clear that chalking on public sidewalks is not illegal and that the arrests were nothing but harassment, retaliation and intimidation tactics by the LVMPD against someone who was legally and peacefully protesting against their crimes and total lack of accountability. Metro has no choice, but to avoid making that mistake again and they’ve let their officers know that. That’s why it is important to know and exercise your rights.

Even though private security guards aren’t actually cops, they do, or think they can do, many of the functions that police perform. Therefore, it’s important to ensure they understand the laws and rights of people. Although security guards are more likely to be punished for their crimes, especially use of force crimes (and since they aren’t a product of a coercive monopoly there are options available to ensure they are held accountable, even if their employers aren’t willing to do so of their own volition), it’s just as important to ensure they (or anyone in general) know and are following the law and the Constitution.

And lastly, if you’re going to claim you aren’t “a stupid security guard” because you have a degree in criminal justice, perhaps you should crack open a legal dictionary or attend a real college. That way you might know the basics about property law and the First Amendment, instead of looking like a stupid security guard.

Click for related Know Your Rights videos and content.

Click for related Know Your Rights videos and content.


Watch the full, unedited raw video:

Police Violence and Gentrification in Las Vegas

Ballentine speaking during the May Day march in 2012

Ballentine speaking during the May Day march in 2012

Note: This was originally posted by   at the Seattle Free Press on . I’ve added a picture of Ballentine, who wrote this essay, made the original first sentence a section header, and added a caption to the picture that originally accompanied the Seattle Free Press’ post.

Otherwise, it has been reposted in its entirety as it originally appeared, which you can view here. Ballentine is one of the three members of the Sunset Activist Collective (along with Gail Sacco, who is not a member but has been a long time associate and supporter of both the Sunset Activist Collective and Nevada Cop Block, as well as other local activist groups, such as Food Not Bombs Las Vegas) that filed a lawsuit against the LVMPD over the August 2013 arrests of four people associated with Nevada Cop Block last week.

ColeInquest-24_t653

Trevon Cole’s family attending the Coroner’s Inquest for his murder by Bryan Yant

I never knew Trevon Cole. I have never met his girlfriend, and, like Trevon Cole himself, I have never met his child. This is because he was murdered by Officer Bryan Yant of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department during a drug raid.

Cole, unarmed, was shot in front his girlfriend while on his knees in his bathroom. His girlfriend, Sequoia, gave birth to a baby girl only five days later.

The pig that shot Trevon Cole was punished with a desk assignment. Cole was the third fatal shooting he was involved in.

I shouldn’t even know who Trevon Cole is. I shouldn’t know about Stanley Gibson, a gulf war vet who accidentally went to his old apartment building one night by mistake and paid for it with his life. Officer Jesus Arevello put 7 rounds from an assault rifle into Gibson’s head.

Stanley, like Cole, was unarmed. He and his car were boxed in, unable to be a danger to anyone.

In the last 10 years over 150 people have been shot by the Las Vegas police. A dozen stories I have heard detailing unarmed people shot by the police, some in cold blood.

Erik Scott was armed but by most accounts was not holding the pistol he was legally entitled to carry when he was shot outside a crowded wholesale super market. The police tried to blame his murder on prescription drugs and the store’s security camera footage was mysteriously never found.

Adding fuel to fires of police violence are businesses in the are which encourage a larger police presence downtown.

The Zappos Shoe Corporation, for example, has duped the local government into letting them “revitalize” the downtown area. Working with the city’s blessing and assistance, the company is spearheading gentrification in the area many of us have lived our whole lives in.

The media of course promotes this effort as though Zappos were some prophetic savior, come to rid us of the “dirty” and “unsafe” downtown, and, as usual, the police are front and center in this mafia-style protection racket.

Companies with more than one hundred patrons are now required by law to hire Las Vegas Police Officers as security, to aid in cleaning up the downtown corridor.

Of course, we don’t need corporations like Zappos to save our city.

We don’t want them having the ear of the mayor.

We don’t need the police to patrol our neighborhoods and escort Zappos employees to their cars after work because “they’re scared to be downtown.”

I am of the opinion that the police are an occupying force doing the bidding of the corporate state. And if you protect the rich, then you should be counted among them, as their willing puppet. Anyone with this desire is in effect the bloodied arm of the corporate overlords with its hand clasped around the throat of the people.

Small response to a big problem:

In response to the Gibson shooting, we in the Sunset Activist Collective created a list of demands against the city and the police department which listed, amongst other things, justice and compensation to the families of the murdered, resignations of the district attorney as well as that of Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

We called for an end to the militarization of the police force, who are now equipped with AR-15 rifles and an armored car that they proudly displayed during the last two MLK day parades.

We demanded an end to the tactic of “neighborhood saturation” which pours dangerous, steroid-amped police freshly home from Iraq and Afghanistan into the poorest neighborhoods and leaves the affluent suburbs pig-free.

Part of our outreach has included “chalking” against the Clark County Government Center, the county seat of authority and the main police head quarters a short distance away.

A few times a month, we sweat in the cold. We write the stories of victims most of us never knew.

As I took a bruised knee, dirtying my work pants to write “[email protected]@K Pigs” upside down so that those pigs could read it from their office window, I notice Rhonda Gibson looking down and reading it. She doesn’t seem to mind the language.

I hope these actions help her cope with her loss, and give her some sense that not everyone is awful. Writing like mad on the sidewalk.

So, if you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, you might take a moment to ignore the neon and look down at your feet. The sidewalk is our horizontal, traveling monument to the victims of police repression.

Join Us For the 2nd Annual “Chalk the Police State” – July 18th

A year later, not much has changed.

A year later, not much has changed.

Background

Every day brings with it more and more examples of the increasing militarization of the police and encroachment of the police state onto everyone’s lives. At the same time, accountability for police abuses and governmental crimes is becoming harder to find. This month on the 18th of July, the one year anniversary of the original “Chalk the Police State” event, members of Nevada Cop Block invite everyone nationwide to send a message that we won’t accept this within our communities and demand that accountability.

One year ago on July 18, 2013, three members of the Sunset Activist Collective, who were at that time being threatened with citations claiming that drawing on a sidewalk with washable sidewalk chalk constitutes graffiti, called for a nationwide solidarity rally on the day that was supposed to be our court date. While the city of Las Vegas had enough common sense not to even file those charges, this event (along with a previous “Second Saturday” chalk protest) ultimately led to the arrest of three members of the NVCopBlock and the filing of ridiculous charges of writing graffiti (with chalk marketed, sold, and primarily used to write on sidewalks) and “conspiring” to write graffiti against another two members (AKA the “Sunset 5”) by Steve Wolfson, the county district attorney.

*Note, if you’ve been following along at home, you may have noticed the number of people involved has changed from the original “Sunset 3” to the current “Sunset 5.” The “Sunset 3” consisted of the original three individuals that were cited in June of 2013. After the arrests the “Sunset 4” was used because one of the arrestees was a minor at the time. The “Sunset 5” consists of the three original members and two additional members that were charged after July 18th’s action last year.*

Of course, those ridiculous charges, which amounted to nothing more than a vindictive attempt to intimidate people who were bringing attention to the murderous record of Las Vegas area police and nonexistent history of accountability for those crimes, were dropped shortly afterwards. In the process, the actions of the bullies within the LVMPD, who had pushed for the charges, backfired in a big way. Realistically, all they accomplished was to draw way more attention to the issues of police brutality we were protesting than those protests had ever actually done. The ridiculously inflated clean up costs that they used to justify those arrests also shined a huge spotlight on the wasteful and unnecessary spending habits of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at a time when they were in the process of begging Las Vegas area residents for more money by way of a county sales tax increase.

A Year Later, What’s Different? (Spoiler: Not Much)

This Offer Still Stands

This Offer Still Stands

In spite of those original charges being dropped amid a pretty large uproar, those very real and important issues that we were protesting in the first place remain. The police brutality and outright murders continue and the complete lack of accountability for such have not disappeared or even, on any discernible level, been addressed. If anything, in fact, they’ve only gotten worse.

Over the course of just the last year, there have been numerous egregious examples of misconduct and abuse by Las Vegas area police. In one instance, Sheriff Gillespie refused the recommendation of the department’s use of force board to fire Officer Jacquar Roston, who shot Lawrence Gordon after he mistook his hat for a gun, which would have actually been the first time any LVMPD officer was fired for shooting someone in the entire history of the department. Similarly, Officer Jason Evans shot Antoine Hodges inside a local 7-11 store, in spite of the fact that he was unarmed and backing away from him at the time, after mistaking him for a wanted suspect. In yet another instance, a man attempting to flag passersby down and asking for water was accosted and then eventually killed by BLM agents and a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper after concerned cyclists reported that D’Andre Berghardt Jr. may have been in need of assistance.

The most blatant and telling example of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s absolute refusal to institute any sort of accountability involves Jesus Arevalo, who murdered disabled Gulf War vet Stanley Gibson as he sat unarmed within his car, that had been immobilized by police vehicles. Even though Arevalo was technically the first person to be fired (or in any other way held accountable) for killing someone on duty, regardless of whether the person killed was unarmed and/or completely innocent, he was actually rewarded for his deadly actions that day with a lifetime of disability payments totaling $30,000 a year, based on the stress he felt because people began calling him a murderer after he murdered an innocent, unarmed person (shortly after stating that he wanted to kill someone in order to get payed time off).

It couldn’t be much more obvious that the LVMPD and other Las Vegas area police have no real (or even feigned) interest in holding any of their trigger happy gang members accountable for there actions, no matter how questionable or downright blatant those actions might be.

 Join Us – Wherever You Are

Chalk the Police State Wherever you Are.

Chalk the Police State Wherever You Are.

As a result of all those things already mentioned and so much more that there’s hardly room to list it all, Nevada Cop Block will be holding a second annual “Chalk the Police State” celebration (which was actually inspired by Cop Block’s original “Chalk the Police Day” and so technically could be considered a fourth annual event.) at the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas. However, since police brutality and the absence of accountability isn’t something that’s limited to Las Vegas, we’re calling for groups (and individuals) across the country to join us in a little summer time arts and crafts display.

Ideally, we would prefer if you chose somewhere symbolic of the police state, such as a courthouse, local government building such as a city hall, or police station to chalk some messages. However, it’s obviously up to you to choose the most appropriate place to do so in your own city. Please join us and help seek justice in a peaceful, public manner against those who have made injustice a part of their job description and have some fun at the same time.

One of the many advantages of chalk protests and reasons we found them to be effective is that they are fairly easy to organize and carry out. Contrary to the claims made for the silly charges from last year, it takes very little “conspiring” to set up such actions. Also, because those participating can each draw multiple messages without too much difficulty, a relatively small group can create a large impact within a small amount of time. Basically, all you need is a few boxes of chalk, some dedicated friends, and a desire to seek accountability for local officials and their hired goons.

Confirmed Cities Thus Far

Las Vegas Flyer for the 2nd Annual "Chalk the Police State" event.

Las Vegas Flyer for the 2nd Annual “Chalk the Police State” event.

Currently we have six cities that have already confirmed that they will be participating. As many as six other cities may also be chalking that day, but we don’t have solid confirmations from them yet. The cities that definitely will be “Chalking the Police State” on July 18th are listed below, along with contact information for people in those cities to use in order to coordinate with them:

Las Vegas, NV.

Members of Nevada Cop Block will, of course, be chalking that day. No amount of retaliation or intimidation will be stopping us from seeking accountability from the LVMPD. We’ll be going back to the Regional Injustice Center, the original location of the inaugural Chalk the Police State Day.

Olympia, WA.

Seattle, WA.

Kansas City, KS.

Hosted by KCK Cop Block

Kansas City, MO.

The "Chalk the Police State" Flyer for Olympia, Wa.

The “Chalk the Police State” Flyer for Olympia, Wa.

Hosted by MO/KS Cop Block

Portland, OR.

Specific schedule/location info is pending.

Poughkeepsie, NY.

Specific schedule/location info is pending.

Celebrate “Chalk the Police State” Day in Your City

It's tragic when anyone is murdered, even if it isn't one of the rare occasions when that person is a cop.

It’s tragic when anyone is murdered, even if it isn’t one of the rare occasions when that person is a cop.

We hope that other cities will join us July 18th to make a statement about police brutality and demand accountability when police victimize people in their communities. Police corruption and misconduct is a nation-wide (international actually) problem and it’s only getting worse as time goes by. In addition, in spite the prevailing (and false) rationalizations for that increase in violence against citizens, police work is safer than it has ever been and is becoming safer all the time.

The mistreatment and abuse of you and your neighbors is inexcusable and needs to be stopped. Their record speaks for itself, though. They won’t regulate themselves or even hold the criminals in their midst accountable, after the fact. You need to take a stand and demand an end to the police state and its abuses before it’s too late.

A FaceBook event page has been set up to coordinate all of the different cities planning actions. If you have questions about setting up a chalk protest in your city, potential statements/slogans to write, questions of legality (it’s completely legal), etc. you can post them there. We would also like to have any local event pages link to that page, so we can keep track of who will be participating and allow people in those cities to coordinate with each other. That event page is located here: (National) Second Annual Chalk the Police State with the “Sunset 5” and in Solidarity with the Victims of Police Brutality, Repression, and Murder. Alternatively, you can also contact NVCopBlock.org’s contact page, if you are not on Facebook or just want to cutout the middle man.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Departments' Pathetic History of "Accountability"

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Departments’ Pathetic History of “Accountability”