Tag Archives: First Amendment

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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Why Dustin McCaskill’s Arrest Actually Validates Cop Block’s Accountability

Dustin MccaskillRecently, it was reported that Dustin McCaskill was arrested here in Las Vegas for making threats on Facebook. There is some room for arguments about whether the First Amendment applies in this case, but unlike some other recent cases, Dustin has made specific and persistent threats for well over a year.

One of the things mentioned in the article is that these threats were made on Dustin’s “Colorado Cop Block” Facebook page, which has apparently been removed by someone (possibly FB, but as far as I know, the person and exact reason is not known, at this time). There is a bit of context that needs to be added there. Because of violent threats of the same nature both against police and other citizens on Dustin’s previous CB page, “Southern Oklahoma Cop Block,” which was eventually removed by FB as a result of the threats, Cop Block publicly disassociated itself from Dustin and SOCB last year (almost exactly one year ago). Not only was a post made on the main page explaining the reasons for that action, but SOCB was removed from the directory of official CB pages and content generated by that page was no longer accepted for reposts, either on the site or the main Cop Block FB page.

Later, after Dustin moved to Colorado, he again tried to use Cop Block’s notoriety to gain attention for himself, by creating the “Colorado Cop Block” page. This was even after he had himself claimed he didn’t want to be associated with Cop Block and had only kept “Southern Oklahoma Cop Block” as the title of his page because he wasn’t allowed by Facebook to change it. He also had created several anti-Cop Block pages, including one named “Cop Block Exposed” (which actually predated the Cop Block Exposed page that got a bit of attention recently by “exposing” really easy to find information and pictures about some of the members of CB and prompted him to complain about his page being the “original” CBX page).

Some of Dustin's less than wise advice.

Some of Dustin’s less than wise advice to South Florida Cop Block on Facebook.

It didn’t take long before he was posting violent threats again and had actually escalated to the type of things that got him arrested. So, it also wasn’t long before another post publicly disassociating Cop Block from Dustin and his pages was posted. Instead of listening to that advice about avoiding aggressive behavior, Dustin ran around Facebook posting insults and threats to the admins (myself included) of any of the affiliate pages he could find that had shared that post and stating that admitting to the FBI that he made those threats, as well as the threats themselves, were “the way to get things done” or some variation of that.

We can have discussions about when and if people should defend themselves against aggression by the cops, which is something Cop Block has done in the past, as evidenced by the “controversial” (mostly among people that have never watched it) Larken Rose video “When Should You Shoot a Cop?,” which discusses that very issue. Also, as stated, there is some level of argument that can be made about the First Amendment protection of speech vs. actions. However, making public threats (that Dustin obviously wasn’t even capable of carrying out) isn’t actually the way to get anything done, but more realistically, just a good way to get yourself put in prison, where you can’t do shit but sit and stare at a wall, or maybe even get murdered yourself.

The real moral to this entire story is that, unlike the police, Cop Block does blow the whistle on people that are potentially dangerous and that aren’t upholding the purpose and principles of Cop Block as an organization. Rather than making excuses for and covering up for Dustin, when we saw that he might likely do something that would reflect badly on all of us and prevent us from doing the positive mission that we set about to do, we publicly disassociated ourselves from him and warned others that he did not represent us or our goals as an organization. As has been stated numerous times, Cop Block is committed to non-aggression in our efforts to eliminate police abuses and aggression from them against others.

In addition, as I personally stated in a post the morning before I and three other individuals were arrested for peacefully and legally protesting the incredible lack of accountability by the LVMPD in August of 2013, it would benefit police themselves if they would exercise the same sort of responsibility when members of their group do things that will reflect badly on them and hinder their ability to accomplish their “mission,” instead of reacting with even more aggression toward those who rightfully point out those transgressions.

The transgressions of individuals reflect badly on a group at an inverse level dictated by the positive actions that a group takes to address those actions. When a group covers up for and enables an individual to continue negative behavior, the actions of those individuals rightfully reflects badly on the entire group. When a group does the right thing, then people understand that no group can keep every individual that has ever been involved with that group from doing something bad. “Bad Apples” have to be removed before they spoil the whole barrel, not used as an excuse that allows the rot to continue.

Cop Block can point to a legitimate and consistent history of holding our bad apples accountable for their adverse actions, while the police have a long and constant tradition of protecting theirs from any sort of repercussions for their actions, regardless of how bad or deadly they might be.

Kelly W. Patterson – admin of Nevada Cop Block  and Cop Block Press Passes (as well as a contributing writer on CopBlock.org and primary writer/editor for NVCopBlock.org)

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Free Radical Movie Night Screening – “30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle” Fri. Oct. 24th

Oct. 24th Radical Movie Night “30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle

Oct. 24th Radical Movie Night

September’s debut of the Las Vegas Radical Movie Night went well enough that we will now be doing two showings per month. So, on every second and fourth Friday of the month the Sunset Activist Collective (along with Nevada Cop Block and Food Not Bombs Las Vegas) will host a free screening of either a documentary or a movie with significant social value.

The location where Radical Movie Nights will take place is The Sci Fi Center, which many locals already know from its longstanding tradition for showing independent movies and cult classics that are often not available in a large screen setting. (Disclaimer: the Sci Fi Center is not actually involved in the Radical Movie Nights, outside of permitting us to use it as a venue for showing movies.)

In order to coincide with the national Day of Action Against Police Brutality, which is held annually on Oct. 22nd (for more info see: http://www.october22.org/) October’s screenings will involve movies that relate to police abuses. On October 24th we will be showing “30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle” a documentary about the demonstrations during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in 1999 and the police response to those demonstrations. (RSVP on Facebook here)

This film was one of the first to show large scale demonstrations from the perspective of those within the demonstrations. It also was in many cases the first time the average viewer saw uncensored and candid depictions of police tactics toward protesters and the way in which they often incited or even staged incidents within the protests in order to justify arresting and in many cases assaulting even peaceful protesters.

30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle

The level of organization, number of people participating, and type of tactics involved were all beyond what had been seen during any modern protests in the United States. For many years afterwards the “Battle of Seattle,” as it is often referred, was used as a sort of template for demonstrations both by protesters and the police.

About the Movie via Bullfrog Films (http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/30fr.html):

“30 Frames A Second: The WTO in Seattle, is a compelling first-person account of the events that unfolded during the week the World Trade Organization came to Seattle in November of 1999. It’s told from the perspective of 15-year veteran network news cameraman Rustin Thompson, who covered the WTO as an independent journalist. It is the story of how Thompson’s objective point-of-view evolved into a subjective account of what became an unscheduled, unruly outbreak of democracy.

Thompson, who had press credentials for the event, takes the viewer into the fray of tear gas, pepper spray, and police abuse; behind the lines and inside the convention center and press rooms; and along the marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations. His dynamic, up-close footage captures the passion, the confusion, the anger, and the courage of everyone involved, from protesters to police to delegates to bureaucrats.

Radical Movie Nights: Every 2nd and 4th Friday

With Thompson narrating, the film asks viewers to emotionally engage their own conflicting feelings about the demonstrations and behind-closed-doors meetings. “I was intrigued by taking a singular, personal approach to the events,” says Thompson, as he recounts how the protests affected him as a journalist and a common citizen. The result is an impressionistic journal of a decisive week that exploded into a massive expression of freedom: of speech, of assembly, and the press.”

Awards:

ALA Video Round Table’s 2001 Notable Video for Adults

Chris Award, Columbus International Film Festival

Best Documentary, Portland Festival of World Cinema

Gold Jury Prize, Chicago Underground Film Festival

Best Documentary, Seattle Underground Film Festival

Most Inspirational Short Film, Reel to Real International Film Festival

Taos Talking Picture Festival

Northwest Film and Video Festival

Further Information:

Watch the Trailer: http://youtu.be/K2vOnKyxYik

Check out the director’s website: http://www.whitenoiseproductions.com/

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