Tag Archives: cop watch

Don’t Call the Pigs: An Informal Guide to Alternative Policing Within an Anarchist Justice System

This post was written by  and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Don’t Call the Pigs: An Informal Guide to Creating an Anarchist Justice System.” Posts and other content you think are worth sharing with the CopBlock Network can be sent in to us via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. Some tips to make it more likely that your submission will get posted to the CopBlock Network can be found here.

(Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links may have been added within the text and images have been added. In addition, the conclusions expressed within this initial introductory summary represent my own interpretation of what is being stated within Logan’s own writings.)

In the post below, Logan discusses some alternative options for policing and specifically options which might arise within an Anarchist society. Initially, he also addresses the many issues with the current police, court, and prison systems and ways to counteract or avoid them. One of the most obvious and frequent questions asked of those who advocate replacing the current “justice” systems, is what would replace them and how regular people would defend themselves against criminals.

Don’t Call the Pigs: An Informal Guide to Creating an Anarchist Justice System

Anti-police sentiment is on the rise in America and around the world. In the wake of the death’s of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and countless others (Rest In Power), even the DoJ admits that at least some police departments are highly racist in practice and the Black Lives Matter movement has sprung up in response. Those from all sides of the political aisle have come out against police militarization. Pigs have been routinely denied service at various business establishments across the nation. On the inside, prisoners around the country have been on strike since September 9th, the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, with guards having recently gone on a solidarity work strike in support of the prisoners at Holman in Atmore, Alabama. So how do we, as anarchists, help provide tactics in the here and now for dealing with the state’s armed injustice system? But more importantly in the long run, how do we build alternative defense and justice systems?

How to Deal With the Pigs

It’s almost inevitable, especially if you’re working class, queer, a person of color, or an activist, that you will have to interact with the pigs at some point in your lifetime. This is why it’s important to hold community “Know Your Rights” workshops such as those offered by the ACLU or the National Lawyers Guild. Hold these workshops at your local infoshop, library, church, community center, or anywhere else where people, activists and non-activists alike, can learn how to hopefully more safely interact with the police. The ACLU also has an app which allows you to film police interactions and upload them automatically to the ACLU’s database for protection in case you phone is confiscated or broken. Groups like Copwatch and Cop Block also encourage people to film the police and hold them accountable for injustice and police brutality.

Movements like Black Lives Matter are currently fighting to curb police brutality by calling for police demilitarization, body cameras, community review boards, community election of police officers, disarming the police, actual punishment for pigs who break the rules, and the end of policies such as Stop and Frisk and Stand Your Ground. These demands hope to curb the worst violence on the way towards abolition.

Unarresting” people can be very risky, especially when you don’t have much support, but has been used as a tactic to free people who are being kidnapped by the pigs both at protests and elsewhere. If you’re up for the challenge then go for it! We need more people like you.

And don’t believe any of that sovereign citizen crap. Some of it sounds good in theory, but none of it has ever really held up in court.

How to Deal With Statist Courts

If you are arrested and/or have to go to court, finding a lawyer is usually key. Sometimes you can luck out and find a more radical public defender who took the job to truly help poor people but chances are you’re better off crowdfunding or throwing other fundraisers or looking for a lawyer who will work pro bono. Some groups, such as the Industrial Workers of the World’s General Defense Committee, are also set up to help pay for bail and legal fees for activists victimized by the state. If you’re looking for a good radical lawyer, depending on your case you could look towards the National Lawyers Guild, the Institute for Justice, or the American Civil Liberties Union. You could also ask you other radical friends for their local recommendations.

The now defunct nonviolent agorist defense agency Shield Mutual offered anarchists and libertarians protections against the state. Instead of armed protection, they promised services attuned to the needs of the individual. They could help with obtaining lawyers, crowdfunding for legal fees, setting up a public freedom campaign website, public relations, media promotion, and networking. They’ve even paid for a woman’s new plane ticket after she was detained by the TSA and missed her flight. The group operated as a friendly society where members paid monthly or yearly dues which went to the cost of helping its membership. They also had a peer-to-peer mutual aid network where members could request funds from other members for emergencies, business ideas, or other projects. Sadly this group has since disbanded (although their website is still up) but it still serves as a model for other agorist defense services.

If you ever happen to be summoned for jury duty, don’t try and skip out. Instead try and use the practice of jury nullification to keep people from being thrown in the state’s cages. The Fully Informed Jury Association has plenty of materials to read and learn from and regularly canvases outside courthouses where they’re active. Join or form a chapter, spread the knowledge. We can decide their laws are not worth enforcing.

How to Deal With the State’s Prisons

If you get locked up, it can seem like the end of the battle but that is far from true. Groups like Books for Prisoners supply reading materials, both radical and non-radical alike, to inmates for entertainment and education. Black and Pink and other letter writing groups provide companionship through becoming pen pals with those held hostage by the state.

In order to help change prison conditions and aid their eventual abolition, groups like Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Free Alabama Movement, the Free Virginia Movement, the Prison Ecology Project, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty are essential. While some of these groups are inherently reformist, groups like FAMM and NCADP help fight against specific issues which will roll back the power of the state. Groups like the Prison Ecology Project focus on the high environmental costs of prisons. While on the inside, groups like the Black Guerrilla Family, IWOC, and other prison gangs, organizations, and unions offer a way for inmates to collectively organize against the pigs holding them hostage. IWOC, as a project of the Industrial Workers of the World, helps prisoners set up IWW branches inside prisons to organize against prison slavery and unfair living conditions.

The Anarchist Black Cross is dedicated to fighting for political prisoners and prisoners of war within the radical movement. They collect dues from its membership which are used to help prisoners with little to no resources obtain them, usually in the form of a monthly donation to an inmate’s commissary fund. They also help fundraise and advocate for POWs as well as doing letter writing and in person visitation. The Black Cross is organized by both allies and inmates who control the organization through directly democratic means.

For those trying to obtain freedom, having an outside network fighting for your freedom with online promotion, political pressure, phone blasts, demonstrations, etc. is a huge help. Nobody is going to pay attention to your case unless there’s enough pressure, such pressure works better in numbers, and such support comes through public awareness and media campaigns.

Failing that, there’s always escape.

Don’t Call the Pigs

One of the biggest things we can do in the here and now is stop relying on the police for protection. Don’t call them, don’t report crimes, don’t allow them in your businesses, don’t snitch. There are better ways of dealing with crime then turning to state violence.

Instead of calling the police, set up your own emergency networks. Have a network of friends, family, or neighbors who are willing and able to respond to emergencies and call them instead. Apps such as Peacekeeper and Cell411 make this process simpler allowing multiple people to be contacted at once with GPS directions and everything. Choosing the right network could lead to a faster response time and more adaptive tactics ranging from arbitration and conflict resolution to armed defense.

Essential to living in a society without pigs is learning self-defense. Martial arts, kickboxing, women’s self-defense courses, and firearms training allow individuals to help protect themselves and others from violence. Groups like the Sylvia Rivera Gun Club for Self Defense, Pink Pistols, and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club offer community firearms training to those in their community. The Huey P. Newton Gun Club actually promotes the idea of arming every black and brown citizen that can legally be armed in order to effectively protect themselves from police and white supremacist violence.

The Huey P. Newton Gun Club also advocates Black Panther style community patrols where they both protect the community from internal crime and violence in their communities and track police activity, filming them and yelling legal advice to those being harassed by the pigs while making it known that they are fully armed just in case the pig has any violent inclinations. Other anti-statist directly democratic community watch groups have also sprung up throughout history to protect communities without the need for the pigs.

In some places, especially in those where war or violence is more prevalent such as Rojava, these community watch groups take the form of voluntary militias. From the Zapatista Army to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, community regulated militias have proven an effective response to statist military and police forces. Currently the militia movement in america is of a decidedly more right-wing viewpoint, with groups like the 3%ers, and tend to carry with them underlying statist messages of patriotism and nationalism, but one can hope that a leftist militia movement will grow into a reality.

Grassroots rape crisis centers offer support geared towards the needs of the survivor and most will not go to the pigs unless asked. Some already offer restorative and transformative programs to help deal with the perpetrator as well while others should be so encouraged by their communities. And as communities look towards other institutional alternatives, the creation of private detective, forensics, and arbitration services can offer attempts at filling those needs.

Dispute resolution organizations (DROs) have been proposed as an alternative to police, insurance, and alternative dispute services. According to wikipedia, “The firms would be voluntarily contracted to provide, or coordinate with other firms to provide, services such as mediation, reimbursement for damages, personal protection, and credit reporting.”

Don’t Use Their Courts

Instead of relying on the state’s court system to solve disputes, turning to arbitration services, trained mediators, direct negotiation between either the two parties, or non-statist alternative dispute resolution between the parties’ lawyers or DRO(s) can offer solutions that are more adapted to the specific needs of the victims and the perpetrators. Community tribunals or courts could also be established in smaller communities to deal with situations directly as a community. Retribution for damaged property can be negotiated in such ways as could the establishment of a restorative and/or transformative justice process which normally takes the form of an accountability process negotiated by the victim and voluntarily fulfilled by the perpetrator. Indemnity services can also help pay for property damages in certain situations especially if no victim is caught.

Don’t Fill Their Cages

Establishing accountability processes for perpetrators of violent crimes helps address the needs of both the victim and perpetrator, helps to repair the damages made, and transform the perpetrator’s behavior in hopes that they do not continue to harm others. Un-cooperative perps are subject to social ostracization and denial of community services or support until they are cooperative. Repeatedly violent criminals are likely to eventually see the wrong end of a barrel of a gun in an armed anarchist community as self-defense is encouraged but in the here and now it’s best to familiarize yourself and your community with the local gun laws so as to know your rights when being attacked. Hold workshops to spread the knowledge you discover in your research or find a radical lawyer who will help you put together a workshop. Sometimes there are laws that make shooting to kill is legal while warning shots are illegal and that is just one example of such strange and backwards laws. Very rarely is shooting someone worth going to prison yourself so know the laws and weigh the options.

Freely available mental health resources such as medication and counseling or even support groups such as the Icarus Project would help alleviate the crime rate as those who suffer from mental health issues won’t be left untreated. This will not only allow for a way to deal with criminals who are mentally unstable in becoming stable but will help prevent crimes before they happen. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other addiction and rehabilitation programs offer a way to deal with drug and alcohol addiction without turning to punishment as the answer.

Creating a Less Violent Society

Moving forward we must continue the fight to demilitarize and disarm the police, to train in self-defense, and to set up our alternative justice systems but we must also get at the root of most crime in this country. Excessive laws and regulation, racism, sexism (including heterosexism and cissexism), and poverty are at the heart of most crime in this country. Repealing prohibitions on guns, drugs, prostitution, squatting, conducting business without a license, and the myriad of other prohibitions the state enacts will empty their prisons of a majority inmates who are locked up for victimless crimes. Taking care of their economic needs by making sure folks have food, shelter, medical care, and their other needs met either through better job opportunities in a freed market (or the agora as it stands today) or through mutual aid such as through groups like Food Not Bombs, free clinics, community lending programs, and grassroots labor unions will help combat economic crimes. As it stands most of those caught for theft, embezzlement, identity theft, robbery, and other economic crimes more often than not did so out of desperation to escape poverty. Taking care of the basic needs of your local community helps relieve such desperation and offers them the resources of survival so that they do not have to steal to obtain resources.

Nonviolent parenting, education, nonviolent communication techniques, and conflict resolution training can help to lead us to a better future where we can solve our own problems instead of relying on the state’s goons to kidnap and throw our enemies – and friends – in cages. The Audre Lorde Project’s Safe OUTside the System campaign teaches people how to set up safe spaces where police are not needed or welcomed. All of these ideas and more are things we could establish and do in the here and now to create our own justice systems in the traditions of agorism, dual power, and “building a new world in the shell of the old.” And with people begging for solutions with both the current ongoing national prison strikes and the movements for black lives and against police militarization, now is as good a time as ever to begin building and put these ideas into practice.

Spread the Word, Break the Chains!

Department of Homeland Security in Portland Harasses and Violates the Rights of Homeless

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by MikeBlueHair of ‘Film The Police Portland” (also known as “FTP PDX”), via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

This post involves the (mis)treatment of homeless people in Portland by federal agents working for the Department of Homeland Security. In this particular instance the DHS agents have been witnessed conducting illegal searches and demanding ID from those homeless people living within the city. Homeless people are often bullied and targeted by law enforcement on all levels of government.

This is, of course, not limited to the city of Portland. Also, while it is not as prevalent or as extreme it also isn’t limited to homeless, either. As is mentioned within the post, that (along with the sense of decency that you hopefully have) is a reason that even those who are not homeless should oppose such acts by government agents.

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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Published By Arran Edmonstone on September 16, 2013

For several months, homeless people have been camped out in front of Portland City Hall and across the street, at the federally-owned Terry Schrunk Plaza and subject to routine searches by the Department of Homeland Security. Some of the homeless rights advocates have pointed out the searches are in violation of civil liberties and waging a court battle at Portland City Hall.

This film contains footage from one of those raids with the DHS agents “just following orders”, in addition to a cop watching patrol with FTP Portland’s Mike Bluehair.

A message from a fellow Cop Watcher:

“I wish in my heart of heart that when the least of our society are oppressed, we the people would react as if the system were trampling our own rights. Because the harsh truth is this. If we do nothing when the state attacks the right of others they are in essence violating the rights of us all. Don’t tread on me be damned! DON’T TREAD ON US! Much Love!”

– MikeBlueHair

Here’s the link for part 1:


Here’s the link for part 2:

Published By Arran Edmonstone on Sep 17, 2013

Here is more footage of the Department of Homeland Security performing a routine search on the belongings of homeless people camped out at Terry Schrunk Plaza in downtown Portland, between Portland City Hall and the newly constructed “green” and “sustainable” Edith Green/Wendell Wyatt Federal Building.

Throughout the video, one of the activists present there, who is also a livestreamer and paralegal, lets the DHS know they are violating a 1983 Supreme Court ruling, Kolender v. Lawson. According to Wikipedia’s page, it concerns “the constitutionality of laws that allow police to demand that ‘loiterers’ and ‘wanderers’ provide identification.”

It’s also worth noting that moments before I began filming one the DHS agents, the tallest of all of them promptly grabbed the papers from the hands of the Livestreamer with the Supreme Court ruling printed on them and threw them on the ground.

Here is the link to Wikipedia’s page with more information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolender_v._Lawson

 

– MikeBlueHair (AKA MikeSmith)

Filming the Police Is a Potent Tactic for Justice as Well as Community Building

If You See Something Film the Police FTP Nevada Cop Block

The following post was shared with the Nevada Cop Block by Justin Oliver, via the NVCopBlock.org submissions page.

Within the post, Justin describes some experiences he and others within the Dallas area have had while out filming the police. Not only have they found it to be a good way to document any potential abuses by the police, but also an effective method interacting with and connecting to the people within their community. It can also act as a deterrent to those abuses, which is another valuable contribution to community.

There are few instances where I recall being personally thanked by complete strangers for my community activism. When it happened earlier in May, as an elderly woman riding along side me on a DART train in Dallas leaned over and smiled when she understood the reason I was holding a camera, I felt overwhelmed.

“You can do that?” she wondered. We were just two seats apart, but four others also boarded at the Akard Station after walking several blocks of the downtown streets. As copwatchers, we had camera equipment in hand ready to film any police encounters we saw. When the woman asked what the cameras were for, one of the more experienced members of the group spoke up and explained that we film the police. “We’ve got to make them accountable,” he said, pointing to his camera.

She wasn’t convinced. “Are you sure you can do that?” she repeated. That’s a sensible question, I thought, especially for those of us regularly bullied into submission by police officers and others in a position of authority. Filming police encounters creates an independent record of what happened. We’re fostering an environment where accountability from public officials is an everyday expectation rather than an occasional accommodation made by those wielding power.

Despite what is commonly believed, people with deeply held convictions engaging in conventional forms of political activism such as running for office are making less of an individual impact than they could with more direct forms of activism, such as recording and documenting police activity. Conventional politics is often more about intra-party squabbles and strategizing than attracting more supporters to our ideas and challenging objectionable practices. The time-consuming trappings of conventional political activism blunts people’s enthusiasm and exhausts their time on less productive political pursuits.

Direct forms of activism involve building cooperative relationships, utilizing the resources at hand, and peacefully circumventing the arbitrary controls of government and other institutions. Even in small numbers, our presence was felt. That night, we filmed two police encounters in full view. There were pedestrians who witnessed us, and the police were aware of our filming. In the future, that might make an officer think again before committing misconduct or encourage someone to document the public activity of government officials. With the proliferation of the internet, the scope of our activism can spread nationwide as people across the country can view our content — and not just those who already support our ideas.

People from across the political spectrum appreciate when corruption or misconduct is highlighted. We’re tapping into a sentiment most everyone already shares. We’re educating people as to why the essential character of arbitrary power is its inherent unaccountability. Those who would abuse it are the ones most attracted to it, which is all the more reason to limit the reach of the government’s grip.

In only a moment, the passenger we met on the bus had come to realize the potential that regular people have in standing up for justice. A smile passed over her face. She expressed how much she would like more people filming the police in her neighborhood. She thanked us and smiled in appreciation. Before we could exit at our stop, the man behind her said to keep it up and wished us good luck. It felt good to know I could help.

– Justin Oliver