Tag Archives: First Amendment

Nevada Cop Block Members Sue LVMPD for Chalk Arrests/Harassment

Chalk is Temporary 300x197 Nevada Cop Block Members Sue LVMPD for Chalk Arrests/Harassment

Chalk is Temporary; Murder is Forever

Lawsuit Filed Over Intimidation Arrests

Earlier today (Sept. 26, 2014), four people associated with Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective filed a civil rights lawsuit over arrests by the LVMPD in August of 2013 during anti-police brutality protests in which drawing on sidewalks with “sidewalk chalk” was labelled as graffiti, as well as a pattern of harassment by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, both before and after those arrests, designed to intimidate us into ending our advocacy for victims of police brutality in the Las Vegas area.

The federal lawsuit filed by attorneys Maggie McLetchie and Robert Langford on behalf of Ballentine, Catalino Dazo Jr., Gail Sacco, and I (Kelly W. Patterson), was reported this afternoon in the Las Vegas Review Journal which includes these details of the lawsuit (some of the links within the quoted content have been added by me):

“Four activists who express themselves with sidewalk chalk filed a civil rights lawsuit Friday against the Metropolitan Police Department.

According to the federal lawsuit, the department has engaged in ‘a policy and practice of deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of individuals engaging in peaceful protests

‘Plaintiffs have been improperly arrested, cited, and harassed for engaging in free speech,’ the complaint alleges…

According to the lawsuit, the Police Department has allowed its officers to harass, cite, arrest and search the plaintiffs ‘for peacefully writing in water-soluble chalk on a public sidewalk’ that Las Vegas police officers had instructed them to write on.

The document claims these actions violated the plaintiffs’ ‘constitutional rights to free speech, expression and assembly, rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and unlawful arrests, and substantive and procedural due process rights.’

Additional state tort claims in the lawsuit include false imprisonment, negligent training and supervision, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress

Las Vegas police began harassing protesters on May 1, 2013, according to the lawsuit, and three of the plaintiffs were cited during a protest at the department’s headquarters on June 8, 2013…

On that date, the lawsuit alleges, Sgt. Mike Wallace approached the three protesters and told them that writing with chalk on the sidewalk constituted graffiti. He then detained them on the sidewalk for about 45 minutes, according to the lawsuit…

During two demonstrations in July 2013, protesters used washable colored chalk to write critical statements of police on the sidewalks outside the department’s headquarters and in front of the Regional Justice Center.

Police said it cost city workers $1,500 to clean up the chalk using power washing equipment.

As a result of the July protests, Ballentine, Patterson and Dazo were charged with gross misdemeanor counts of placing graffiti on property and conspiring to commit a crime.

Police arrested Ballentine and Patterson on Aug. 10, 2013, while they were walking to the department’s headquarters to chalk, according to the lawsuit

Ballentine spent three days at the Clark County Detention Center, where he was denied his medications and suffered from anxiety, according to the lawsuit, and Patterson spent four days at the jail.

The charges were later dropped. District Attorney Steve Wolfson said new evidence showed that courthouse marshals had directed the protesters to chalk in a specific location outside the justice center.

‘There wasn’t expressed permission, but there was implied permission to use the chalk on the sidewalk outside the courthouse,’ Wolfson said.

But McLetchie said the district attorney fails to understand that “the Constitution forbids the government from requiring prior permission before you engage in First Amendment-protected activity.”

According to the lawsuit, the citations issued in June 2013 and the arrests made in August 2013 were designed ‘to chill future speech.'”

The full Review Journal article can be read here.

Further Reading

Chalking Offer 300x132 Nevada Cop Block Members Sue LVMPD for Chalk Arrests/Harassment

Still stands

I’ve been advised by our lawyers not to comment in detail on the case while it is active, but you can read pretty much every article ever written about the case right here. (It actually progresses from the most recent stories to the latest. So, if you want to start at the beginning you have to backtrack to the last page.)

As I said, I won’t be doing any extended commentary on the case in this post. However, I will point out that I made Metro and Sheriff Gillespie a very reasonable offer (see the picture to the right) early on during the protests that I don’t believe they ever even considered accepting and still haven’t shown any real interest in to date.

Also, I think it’s amazing that the main cops involved in these ridiculous arrests are named “Mike Wallace, Chris Tucker, and Lt. Liberty.” I’m tempted to think they are just making up names at the LVMPD.

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Call Flood Request for Brian Sumner Arrested for Filming Cops *Update*

Update: Charges Dismissed Against Brian Sumner

CaseDismissed 300x175 Call Flood Request for Brian Sumner Arrested for Filming Cops *Update*

Brian Sumner’s Case was Dismissed. (Thanks to a Little Help from Some Freinds.)

Brian Sumner has reported via the FaceBook event page that his charges were dropped He also stated:

“Its all thanks to you. I wish everyone of you could have seen the DAs face. My lawyer told me that she wasn’t sure if the DA was going to inner (sic) the agreement. I’m going to take that as it was a very successful phone bomb. You all have my heart, and our voices will be heard.”

Thanks to everyone that managed to call. Remember, call floods have been very effective at putting pressure on police departments and courts to release people being charged with bogus crimes based on retaliation or intimidation motives. Always call if you can.

 

 


resisting arrest 24850 Call Flood Request for Brian Sumner Arrested for Filming Cops *Update*Brian Sumner wrote the article included below regarding how “obstruction” charges are often used to punish and attempt to discourage people involved in Copwatch or Cop Block related activities. This is done much the same way that “resisting arrest” is often used to prosecute people who have been arrested, even when the actual excuse for arresting them is thrown out or dismissed, as a way of intimidating them.

Brian is a local activist and copwatcher from the Fresno area. Within a relatively short time he’s made quite a few videos and been involved in several major actions in and around Fresno seeking police accountability as part of the Fresno Liberty Movement. As a result, he has become a target for retaliation by local police and other government employees. In one such instance (not the one in the video included below), he was charged with obstruction simply for filming the arrest of another person from a distance. He will be starting trial for this “crime” today, Sept. 10th 2014, and has asked (via a FaceBook event) that people call the DA to show their support and ask that they drop those bogus charges:

“Brian Sumner was arrested for obstruction of justice while filming a routine traffic stop in Clovis, Ca. Please call the DA’s office as many times as humanly possible and ask them to drop the charges. Brian will begin his first day of trial at 1:30 pm 9/10/14. Vanessa Wong is the DA prosecuting the case against Brian. The phone number to her office is (559) 600-3141. Any and all support will be greatly appreciated. #NoVictimNoCrime #PhotographyIsNotACrime #CopBlock #CopWatch #Solidarity”

“Obstructing” is “Resisting” for Cop Watchers

We have all seen a youtube video where a cop demands ID, or for someone to go with them, and when they refuse the cop threatens them with resisting arrest. Even though no crime was committed beforehand…  If you have not seen one of these videos click the link below.


Threatened with resisting arrest.


 

I FILM COPS!

I have been filming the police for around a year and a half now, and it has slowly just become apart of who I am. I was just out of the military, and dealing with the poor taste it left in my mouth. I had been Listening to the Adam VS the Man podcast, reading The Free Thought Project, and watching everything CopBlock.org was putting out. I had joined the military to serve, and well lets just say my service was more of a disservice.

The visible wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan these “Wars on Terror” were being flaunted along with 9/11 as major reasons to draft such legislation as the Patriot Act, or NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) to create such organizations as the NSA, and the TSA. While the US military eroded rights, and lowered the living conditions in the middle east, the US government was  systematically removing rights, and lowering the standard of freedom in the USA.

I was drawn to activism and civil disobedience because it was an in your face act of rebellion, and when you do something like block a freeway, chalk up a police station, or take over the streets with a group of people, and the authorities just have to let you do it due the critical mass its very liberating to one’s soul. You make connections, and form bonds with each other much like in the military.

One thing I have noticed is cops don’t take kindly to an unknown person walking up and sticking a camera in their face. Luckily for me, I could care less what a cop wants. Too many times there is no objective record, and cops take advantage of people, or worse hurt them. The supreme court ruled that it is the job of police to enforce the laws, not protect people. With that in mind does it make a little more sense why there are so many victimless crimes?

Police often tell me that my presence is an obstruction of their investigation, they usually try to defend it with “I’m cool with you filming, just from over there, Officer safety, and all” or something along those lines. In reality what the cop is trying to do is place you in a position where you are less likely to capture what he is doing, and/or saying. I have been threatened with arrest for this crime known as “Obstruction of Justice”  on many different occasions. I recently made the connection between resisting arrest, and Obstruction of Justice.

If I am not harming anyone, and I am filming from a distance that I deem is reasonable for both mine, and the officers safety, and if I am not engaging the officer in any unwanted dialogue how can I be obstructing justice, or interfering with his investigation? Is he claiming that my presence with a camera is somehow hindering him from doing his job? Or is he afraid of what the camera will see? Regardless the situation remains where unquestioned obedience to an authority figure, possibly a complete stranger, can and will land  you in cage, even worse you can end up with a criminal record.

The same can be said with resisting arrest. As we saw in the video link above the man was eating a meal at a fast food restaurant. When the man did not want to leave his meal, and go with the officer he was threatened with arrest for resisting arrest. How can your only crime be not wanting to have an interaction with a complete stranger? Does it make sense that you can literally be arrested for refusing to go somewhere with someone who claims authority over you?

Police now can detain and arrest you for not wanting to talk to them. At the same time police can detain and arrest the people who would film these arrest’s in order create an objective record, if they do not follow the orders of a the police officer. I will now share a personal experience from 2 nights ago with the Clovis, Ca police department.


Clovis police officer, and local hero Jesus Santillon, threatened me with arrest for filming him while he detained, and later arrested a homeless man with a bicycle.


This video also may serve as an objective comparison of the behavior of  cops while in certain uniforms. The officer with the tactical vest, and the military haircut was the one to make contact with me, and cry about “officer safety” in an attempt to get me to alter my position.  While the police officer in his regular uniform was very patient, and kept to the matters at hand.

Notice also that even the nice cop was telling me what to do. Officer Santillan was telling me to move, the other person involved Officer Shermanti was telling me that no one threatened me, and the supervisor was telling me to keep my opinions to myself, and to do whatever complete strangers with guns tell me to. In retrospect thats actually not that bad of advice… If a complete stranger came up to me with a gun and told me what to do. I would probably do it. Unless it was a cop. Then I would probably film it.

I hope you also noticed that none of the cops really listened to me, they all just made excuses for each other, and talked at me in a manner that made me feel more like a subject to them. In other news, Officer Jesus Santillan was awarded a hero medal for 80 DUI arrests, and singlehandedly making up 21% of the DUI arrest for Clovis PD.

5flr4.AuHeEm.8 Call Flood Request for Brian Sumner Arrested for Filming Cops *Update*
Hero Cop Jesus Santillan

 “A Clovis police officer was given a California Hero Award on Saturday at the 16th annual Statewide Law Enforcement and Community Recognition Event in Sacramento, said Janet Stoll-Lee, spokeswoman for the Clovis Police Department.

Stoll-Lee said Officer Jesus Santillan arrested 80 drunken drivers during the graveyard shift in 2013, which accounted for 21% of the department’s total DUI arrests. Santillan worked on DUI checkpoints, AVOID task forces and saturation patrols in Clovis.

The event, which is sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, recognizes law enforcement officers and community leaders throughout California for their efforts to stop drunken driving.”

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Monthly First Friday Outreach & Downtown CopWatch w/Nevada Cop Block

KnowYourRightsNVCopBlock 240x300 Monthly First Friday Outreach & Downtown CopWatch w/Nevada Cop Block

Know Your Rights and how to protect them when dealing with police.

Downtown Informational Flyering and Outreach

As the residents of Las Vegas (and an increasing number of visitors) are well aware, the LVMPD has made it one of their priorities to harass people in the downtown area, especially on Fremont Street and during the monthly “First Friday” art festivals. Nevada Cop Block (NVCopBlock.org) has decided to respond in kind and make documenting that harassment and the inevitable abuses it leads one of our priorities, as well as doing outreach to the people downtown, especially during First Fridays.

We’ll be meeting up in the “Arts District” area initially for outreach and flyering and centering our activities on the First Friday section and the nearby Fremont Street area, where most of the police presence will be. We anticipate being down there by about 7pm, but you can show up whenever and there’s not really going to be any set end time, but once again, you can just head out whenever you feel the time is right.

If you can spare some time to help out or if you just plan to be downtown and want to stop by and say hello, that would be awesome of you and will probably be admired and talked about for many years by people throughout the country, if you bring a camera they’ll probably chant your name in remote villages throughout the entire planet. (#TrueStory)

NVCopBlockWarningEdit 208x300 Monthly First Friday Outreach & Downtown CopWatch w/Nevada Cop Block

This gang has been very active in downtown Las Vegas recently.

In September, we’ll be distributing a new flyer that contains information focused on helping residents and visitors understand their rights when confronted by police. In addition contact and resource information both for Nevada Cop Block and for the main Cop Block site is included on the flyers. They are designed to be used in and around downtown Las Vegas to enable people to protect themselves and avoid having their rights infringed upon, but the information is universal enough that they can be used as a resource throughout the country. So tourists can add them to their stash of Las Vegas mementos.

A secondary reason will also be one of outreach to meet and connect with members of the community that may want to become involved in future Cop Block activities. Obviously, the more people we have actively involved the more actions we can do and the more opportunities for accountability we can create. Also, more people equals more witnesses, so when NVCopBlock members are monitoring the police, they are safer and less likely to become a target themselves.

A third and potentially the most important reason for being downtown involves actually observing and documenting police interactions (“CopWatching”) in order to discourage them from abusing people’s rights and providing evidence should they in fact do so. This will also give us the opportunity to find and interact with people who have had negative experiences with the police in the past.

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