Tag Archives: Fourteenth Amendment

University of Tennessee Police Violate Independent Media’s Rights at Public Protest

The following post and video were shared with the CopBlock Network by Christian Alexander of BackRoomKnox.com, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. Along with the description below, Christian stated:

The police chief has apologized, but not the University. I would love to get a consensus on whether I was right or wrong from your audience. Maybe it can be a teaching tool for being on campus.

Date of Incident: November 10, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer O’Neal, Officer Underwood, Officer McCarter
Department Involved: University of Tennessee Police
Phone Number: (865) 974-3114
Fax Number: (865) 974-4072
E-mail: [email protected]

Short version: (long version below) I was not able to go on a public university campus to film a protest. I was stopped and asked if I was a student, and they let me know only students, faculty and staff were allowed to be at the protest. The officers were respectful, while stabbing me in the back violating on my rights. I showed them my media credentials, but they still put me in a free speech zone. I even had a shift supervisor tell me the same. “It’s a public university, but private property.” I ultimately refused their orders under threat of criminal arrest-as you can see in the video. At this point, I did not know what the outcome would be. Would I be arrested or trespassed later? Or was I in the right and the law needed to be fixed? I’m still seeking guidance on both.

I am writing in regards to the violation of my first and fourteenth amendment rights on the University of Tennessee campus, Knoxville Tennessee. I have received an apology from the UT Police Department. I received no apology from the University itself.

Free speech zones are illegal on public campuses. University of Tennessee Police Officers and official policies, practices, or customs resulted in a deprivation of my rights. Because the protest was not an official “event of national significance,” I cannot be forced, as a citizen or media, into a separate area, under duress.

“The First Amendment represents “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270 (1964). Our institutions of higher learning play a central role in a system of freedom of expression because “[t]he college…surround-ing (sic) environs is peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas.’” Healy, 408 U.S. at180. In this regard, “[t]he first danger to liberty lies in granting the State the power” to limit freedom of expression in contravention of the “background and tradition of thought and experiment that is at the center of our intellectual and philosophic tradition.” Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819, 835 (1995). The First Amendment provides in pertinent part that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press,” and is applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.”

This past Friday a group(s) held a protest regarding the election of Donald Trump.

The Knox News Sentinal wrote:

“The protest, loosely comprised of the campus’ Diversity Matters student coalition, started near the amphitheater outside the humanities building at 12:30 p.m. The group marched along around the building and up pedestrian walkway.”

Trying to get the law or officers’ orders on record…I spoke to Officer A. O’neal. She stated “They just call us and tell us what we need to do.” She was speaking of campus policies and customs. I let her know that you don’t need to go through any procedure to be on public property.

violate-rightsSoon after speaking with Officer O’neal, I headed to the protest that was taking place in the walkway on campus. Before I was able to get there, I was approached by Officer McCarter. His first words were, “Let’s go down here for a minute. You do not have permission to be here.” He pointed to and told me to go to a “free speech zone.”

I asked why I could not go on my way to the protest. I had planned on recording the events. I do not actively participate in protests as a protestor. I do not believe I have ever been a protestor. I have been to many protests to report on them. I was not asked by the officer if I was protesting or going to be protesting. I had no signs. I only record the events.

He said that I was not affiliated with the university. We verbally disagreed on whether or not I could be there. Even though I knew I was on a public property, I asked if I was on public property for verification. The officer stated, “This is private property. It belongs to the State of Tennessee.” Again, I said, “Then it’s public property.” His response, “No Sir.” He said that I had to be student, staff, faculty or be here to conduct business. Again, university policy. I asked what happens next. He said I needed to go to the free speech zone, which was not near the protest. I asked what would happen if I did not do that. He said that I could be taken to jail for criminal trespass.

My press credentials were visible on my neck the entire day, and I was the only one at the event or at my location with both a photo ID and press credentials on my neck. My media credentials include my photo, date of expiration, address, signature and my affiliations and large bold letters PRESS. He looked at my credentials and sent me to an eight ft. long “free speech zone.” The officer then mentioned I needed to go stay with my friend. The “friend,” I had seen only once before in my life when I was covering the election. I said he was not with me. I was only covering him because that is where the news was at the time. This was clarified, and I was still told to go to the free speech zone by officer McCarter. I was respectful, but I was forced to go to the free speech zone as I verbally protested to the officer. My rights were violated and under threat of arrest, again, I had no choice but to follow the officer’s commands in order to get more clarification and offer respect to the officer.

Officer R. A. McCarter came back some time later, and he said, “talked with my sarge.” Officer McCarter stated that I needed to call (865) 974-3174 to get permission to be up here. Again, procedures of the university. Officer McCarter stated, “I told her [his sarge] that you are press. There is no headway with it.” He then pointed out the free speech zone which was far from the protest. I took my press credentials off my neck, out of the badge holder, and showed him again, and I said I was not there to protest. He then voluntarily stated that Knox News notified them. Implying that media should get permission before working a breaking story.

(Knox News had 318 comments 565 shares of their coverage of one of a previous protests. I had 9519 comments 17,275 shares of the same protest for a total of 1,754,515 views via Facebook, not including my other pages with additional views. In the digital age, reporting is no longer confined to America’s traditional newsrooms. As such, threats to press freedom threaten anyone who seeks to share information about official actions using a cellphone, social media service or website.)

Mr. McCarter then stated, “I was told, so this is it. You can stay down here.” (Pointing to a “free speech zone.”) about six to eight feet…” officer McCarter stated.

I asked for a supervisor of the supervisor for one more clarification and a chance for them to correct what should have been obvious First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment violations – under threat of criminal trespass and arrest. After an additional long wait in the illegal “free speech zone,” The supervisor for the shift, Officer Underwood, stated that the university is public but private property. He again stated the custom that the university is only open to students, faculty, staff, and invited guests.

I discovered my main camera was now out of space after using it on these highly illegal, disconcerting, disheartening, and defeating confrontations at the University of Tennessee. I then had to use a backup camera whose sound is not good compared to my main camera. It also took up about an hour of valuable time that I missed to cover the beginning of the sit in, as I was the first reporter on scene.

That said, assuming a protest is in a public forum, as this protest was, reporters don’t need credentials to cover it. We enjoy a right of access along with the public. Media does not need permission to be there, nor do they need permission to engage there in news gathering activities. The kinds of actions taken out on me alone can send a harsh message: gather legal video at your own demise.

I missed, but heard with my ears, the main news that I wanted to get, but did not get the video I needed as I was detained in the “free speech zone.” At this time, I was extremely upset and flabbergasted at the actions of these officers. After about an hour, I went on to campus in the public area anyway. The entire time I was on campus I was under duress and threat of arrest. This is not a good way to gather news, and I am thankful that I did not have a heart attack each time the officers came near me. I also stayed up all night in fear of officers arriving at my house to arrest me.

I recorded evidence of three assaults at this protest. Two current students and one non student were assaulted at the event. Two have filed police reports. The female victim of the assault sought out my news page, and I will send her the video evidence. I also have video of this same gentleman inciting violence on campus, at the rock. It involved an assault. Police were called. The victim was given an apology and no charges were filed.

I am seeking help via social media and other organizations to help me put together this matter and to understand who did right, who did wrong and what can I do to fix it or help someone else in the future.

Christian Alexander
BackRoomKnox.com

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.

Four Days in a Las Vegas Jail for Protesting Government Murder by Drones

The following post was originally posted at the blog “Dissident Voice” under the title, “My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail” by Brian Terrell.

It describes the experience Terrell had dealing with the Las Vegas “justice” system after having been arrested during an anti-drone protest at Creech Air Force Base, which is located just north of Las Vegas and from where most of the drones murdering people in the Middle East are controlled remotely.

Although it is rather long, it is well worth reading as it makes many important points about the nature of the court system and the way that the courts have essentially become a giant ATM machine for the government.

Previously, I have written about these issues in relation to the Las Vegas courts. Those posts can be found here, here, and here.

“My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail”

“What happened to us was a shakedown by gangsters wearing police uniforms and judges’ robes, not for the sake of justice, but to maintain the civic infrastructure behind the glittering façade of Las Vegas with dollars squeezed out of its poorest citizens.”

“The degree of civilization in a society,” wrote the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, “can be judged by entering its prisons.” As a frequent visitor to Nevada in recent years, I have often been surprised by the cultural diversity and spiritual richness that can be found in Las Vegas. Still, I think that Dostoyevsky was right. A more accurate assessment of the degree of civilization in Las Vegas and for the broader society that the city claims to be “The Entertainment Capital” of can be made by entering the cells of the Clark County Correctional Center than by going to the top of the Stratosphere, cruising the Strip or even by taking in a Cirque du Soleil show.

I was one of twenty five arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police at Creech Air Force Base, the center of drone assassination by the US Air Force and the CIA some forty miles northwest of the city on March 31 and April 1. “Shut Down Creech” was a weeklong convergence of activists from around the country. Most of us staying in tents at a makeshift “Camp Justice” in the desert across the highway from the base, our days of discussion, study, song, reflection and strategizing built up to a dramatic series of coordinated actions, including street theater and blockades, that disrupted the lethal business as usual of Creech. While we expected to be arrested, this was not our desire or our goal. Once again, the police arrested the wrong people as they abetted the criminals and took those who acted to stop a crime in progress down town to be booked.

Since 2009, I have had at least two other trips on the police from Creech to the county jail at the prestigious address, 330 S Casino Center Blvd in Las Vegas, to undergo the tedious process of booking, the fingerprinting, mugshots and other indignities before getting kicked out onto the sidewalk a few long hours later. This time, however, after my friends and comrades were released one by one, I remained behind. I was kept in jail for the next four days, not for my part in the day’s protest, but on a bench warrant due to an unpaid traffic fine.

I had been arrested a year before at another protest at Creech and cited for the misdemeanor crime of impeding traffic and released with 30 some others on our promise to return for trial. Some weeks later, the charges on ten of us were reduced to the traffic offence of “pedestrian soliciting a ride or business on a roadway” and we were assessed a $98 fine with no apparent way to plead not guilty. While those who eventually went to trial on the original charges were found not guilty or had their charges dismissed, those of us in the “hitchhikers’ club” all failed in our various attempts to have our cases heard. “How can I contest this ticket?” I asked the clerk at the Justice (sic) Court in Las Vegas. “You don’t contest it,” was the answer, “you PAY it.” In Las Vegas, it is easier to plead not guilty to a violent felony than it is to contest a traffic ticket.

Pay The Fine Las Vegas CourtIn due course I got a glossy postcard in the mail with a color photo of a perp getting handcuffed against a Metropolitan Police squad car, with the clever warning “Pay the Ticket, Avoid the Click-it.” This image, that can also be found on the court’s website, came with this threat: “The Las Vegas Township Justice Court will issue arrest warrants for all unpaid traffic tickets. An additional warrant fee of $150 and a late fee of $100 will be added to all tickets that proceed into warrant status. In addition to warrant fees and penalties, all unpaid traffic tickets will be reported to national credit reporting agencies.” A search of my case on the court’s website showed that I had been charged to pay for my own warrant and another “compliance fee,” apparently to pay for my account getting referred to a collection agency, bringing my bill up to $348.

These mounting fines and lack of access to the courts and the calls that started to come from a collection agency were a small annoyance to me, but are an indication of a larger systemic problem. The Las Vegas Justice Court Mission Statement (“The vision of the Las Vegas Justice Court is to maximize access to Justice, in order to achieve the highest possible level of Public Trust and Confidence”) notwithstanding, these practices and those like them in courts around the country are illegal.

A March 16, 2016, “Dear Colleague” letter from the Office for Access to Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, addressed to state and local courts lays it out:

Recent years have seen increased attention on the illegal enforcement of fines and fees in certain jurisdictions around the country—often with respect to individuals accused of misdemeanors, quasi-criminal ordinance violations, or civil infractions. Typically, courts do not sentence defendants to incarceration in these cases; monetary fines are the norm.  Yet the harm caused by unlawful practices in these jurisdictions can be profound.  Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape.  Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared not toward addressing public safety, but rather toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.

This letter cites a Supreme Court ruling that the due process and equal protection principles of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit “punishing a person for his poverty” and further insists that:

The use of arrest warrants as a means of debt collection, rather than in response to public safety needs, creates unnecessary risk that individuals’ constitutional rights will be violated.  Warrants must not be issued for failure to pay without providing adequate notice to a defendant, a hearing where the defendant’s ability to pay is assessed, and other basic procedural protections.  …  When people are arrested and detained on these warrants, the result is an unconstitutional deprivation of liberty.

Somehow, the memo did not make it to Las Vegas. While the statistics are not available, during that long weekend I was not the only inmate in the Clark County jail locked up solely for not paying fines on minor offenses.

The deplorable conditions and cruelties of this jail defy exaggeration and are as extravagant as the floor shows at the city’s casinos and hotels. It was more than eight hours after getting arrested that I was finally taken out of shackles. We were packed standing room only, more than forty people in a small cell those first hours in chains.

Not long after I arrived, as a guard opened the door to push in yet another prisoner, a very slight young man edged his way to the front and tried desperately to explain that he was suffering an anxiety attack and needed air. Not listening, the guard tried to slam the door on this young man who stepped forward into the door jamb. The guard then grabbed the young man, threw him down onto the hallway floor and even though his hands were shackled at his waist and he could not hit back, at least five guards, all larger than him, all had their knees on his body and were pummeling him with their fists. The last I saw of him, his face was bloodied and he was being wheeled away, his wrists and ankles chained to a restraint chair. This was the jailers’ response to a normal human reaction to an inhuman situation and those suffering from mental illness or the effects of withdrawal were treated no less harshly.

Like some bizarre board game, we prisoners were inexplicably moved from cell to crowded cell at all hours. Sometimes a prisoner would only just arrive before their name was called for another move. Sometimes the guards went from cell to cell shouting a name of someone they had somehow misplaced. Some of our cell mates insisted that they had been in the same place for many days and worried that they had been lost as well. Guards were constantly giving contradictory and erroneous “information,” such as when we would get to court or be moved to more spacious and comfortable quarters upstairs. Some of the guards, not restrained by their own lack of credentials, were generously distributing legal advice to those preparing to see a judge. I found out later that my friends outside were likewise misled by jail employees as they tried to keep track of me.

I had arrived at the jail early on a Friday and was kept in these holding cells until Monday morning at 3 o’clock. Meals were unsatisfactory nutritionally and esthetically, but also, served as they were at 3 AM, 9AM and 3PM, did not even serve to mark the passage of time in this dungeon without windows and where the lights never dimmed. These cells varied in size and the body counts in them varied hour to hour. There were narrow benches around the walls where a few could lie down and nap, but most of us were lucky when there was room enough to stretch out without a blanket on the cold, filthy concrete floor. There was an open toilet in each cell- to use toilet paper, one had to find and wake the prisoner who had appropriated the roll for use as a pillow. In the wee hours after my third night on concrete, I was finally taken upstairs, given a change of clothes and a blanket and shown a cot in a fairly quiet and almost clean dormitory of some 80 men.

About 10 on Monday morning, I was chained up again and led through a series of tunnels and elevators to traffic court. There were some 30 of us in that batch, by no means everyone who had been jailed over the weekend for unpaid traffic charges. Each case was decided by the judge in seconds, with no defendant allowed to say anything beyond affirming their identity upon hearing their name called. Most of the fines and added fees assessed against these men and women amounted to many thousands of dollars. Based on an informal formula of dollars per days in lock up, the judge shaved off some off the fines owed and let most of the prisoners out with the threat that if the remainder was not paid in 30 days, more costs would be added, a new warrant issued and the cycle would be repeated.

This is a photo I took of the Brinks truck that they drive up to the front door of the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas every morning.

This is a photo I took of the Brinks truck that they drive up to the front door of the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas every morning.

None of us in traffic court that morning had been granted a “hearing where the defendant’s ability to pay is assessed” that the law demands before putting us in jail. Few of us, if any, had been found guilty by any judicial process before being fined in the first place. Debt collection, not guilt or innocence, was the only concern of this “court.” What happened in court that morning could be called “criminal justice” only in that what was done to us by the court was criminal. What happened to us was a shakedown by gangsters wearing police uniforms and judges’ robes, not for the sake of justice, but to maintain the civic infrastructure behind the glittering façade of Las Vegas with dollars squeezed out of its poorest citizens.

Through this experience, I met many interesting people, mostly young black and brown men. A few of them were locked up for alleged criminal offenses, but many seemed to be caught up in the same collections racket as me. The calls made from the phones in the cells were mostly frantic appeals to family and friends for money to pay the fines or the bail that would get them released. Unless they were wearing badges and carrying keys, there was no one I met at the Clark County jail that I feared as a threat to myself or to the public safety.

If the machinations of the Las Vegas Justice Court are not about justice, neither are the drones controlled from Creech Air Force Base 40 miles away about defense. By remote control and often under the shadiest of orders by the CIA, military personnel at Creech are assassinating suspected enemies far from fields of battle, based on unproven allegations or on “patterns of behavior,” often incinerating their families or the strangers unfortunate enough to be close by. It should not be surprising that a government that executes suspects, sometimes even its own citizens, without trial in places far away will also imprison its poorest people at home without due process.

Among those who stood with me in traffic court that morning, my own debt of $348 was one of the smallest and the judge summarily sentenced me to time served, crediting my four days in jail to wipe away all my fines and added costs. I was not even allowed to explain that I had never solicited a ride on a roadway in the first place. Although the judge said I was free to go, the bureaucracy of the jail took another 12 hours to get me released. It was after 10:30 Monday night that I was finally given back my clothes and sent out the long tunnel that leads from the jail to the bright lights of downtown Las Vegas, onto the sidewalk and into the embrace of faithful friends who had been keeping vigil for me the whole time of my incarceration.

I left the Clark County jail exhausted and happy to be out, but grateful, too, for the hospitality and patient endurance of those who shared their harsh, constricted space with me for a few days. It is a hard but precious privilege for this middle aged white man to visit such places where other good people have no choice but to inhabit.

The same drama is being played out in jails and courtrooms around the United States, the country that imprisons more of its people than any other. With more than 95% of criminal charges now settled with plea bargains instead of going to trial, many defendants are convicted and put away for years with not much more in the way of due process than I was afforded with my little trumped-up hitchhiking ticket.

It is unclear if what happened to me in Las Vegas Justice Court on April 4 was a conviction in the strictly legal sense, but what happened there has certainly deepened my conviction that the so-called war on terror is just one front of the vicious war on the poor and on people with black and brown skin here at home as well as abroad. This conviction will lead me back to Creech and other drone bases, to the places targeted by their Hellfire missiles when I can and, if need be, back to the Clark County Correctional Center.

Drawing on these connections, Voices for Creative Nonviolence is organizing a “NO Thomson Prison De-Incarceration Walk,” 150 miles from Chicago to Thomson, Illinois, from May 28 to June 11. Thomson is where the federal government will soon open a new “super-max” prison that is expected to keep up to 1,900 prisoners in solitary conditions that have been condemned by the international community as amounting to torture. Please join us if you can.

Brian Terrell lives in Iowa and is a Co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence. In recent years he has visited Afghanistan three times and has spent more than six months in prison for protesting at drone bases. For more information email [email protected] Read other articles by Brian.

Harassment and Intimidation Against Innocent Colorado Family for “Ignoring” Neighbor

The following post was submitted by Danielle Kekoavia, via the CopBlock.org submissions page.

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Date of Incident(s): August 19-20, 2015

THATS-RIGHT-ALL-CAUGHT-ON-CAMERA-DANI-CAUGHT-ON-CAMERA-HARASSMENT-INTIMIDATION-by-NORTHGLENN-MEDIATION-FORCE-vs.-THE-KEKOAS-PoliceRecordingsKekoas.comNORTHGLENN, CO — Three Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement Officers and a Community Service Officer from Northglenn Police Dept. were sent over to harass and intimidate Curtis and Danielle Kekoa, parents of six, all because the next door neighbor was being “ignored” and called the police to complain. That’s right—the neighbor called the police because she was being ignored by the Kekoas. And even more ridiculous, the Northglenn Police responded right away to the 911 call.

Since “ignoring someone” is not a criminal matter, Officer Gillette from Northglenn Police left the scene and later dispatched Northglenn’s “Professional Mediation Task Force” over to handle the private issue between neighbors by attempting unlawful entry, aggressively banging down the Kekoas’ door, yelling through the window, then “dragging” them out of their home and into a confrontation for over 45 minutes.The latest disturbance began on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 when Officer Tom Carlson and an unidentified Officer with Northglenn Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement showed up unannounced at the home of Curtis and Danielle Kekoa, then left a business card with “Please call” written on it. Less than 24 hours later, on August 20, 2015, four Northglenn Code Enforcement Officers were called to the next door neighbor’s home to have access to the Kekoas’ backyard by looking through the chain-link fence to find a “code-violation” of some sort. Upon arrival, a story about “pool noodles” was fabricated by the neighbor in another attempt to harass the Kekoas and force them into a confrontation because she was being “ignored.”

banner420Shortly after peering and prowling over the fence into the yard where the Kekoas’ children play, two Northglenn Officers including a supervisor quickly stormed over to the home of Curtis and Danielle Kekoa and attempted unlawful entry through the front door. Immediately after the unlawful entry failed, the Supervisor aggressively knocks over 30 times then yells at the window saying, “I just wanna to talk to you! You don’t have to videotape me! Just come to the door!” Seconds later, she pounds on the door “a little harder” nearly ten more times to “make sure you heard it.” All of this activity is caught on camera from several different angles.

As observed by the four Northglenn Code Enforcement Officers, there were absolutely “no code-violations” at all, yet Stephanie Pelster, who identified herself as the Supervisor and “Professional Mediator” for Northglenn Code Enforcement, along with Officers Tom Carlson and Phil Stiebler with Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement—all dressed looking like bounty hunters with big badges and tactical gear—accompanied by a uniformed Community Service Officer named Michelle Soustek #438 from Northglenn Police Dept., came over to harass and coerce the Kekoas out of their home against their will to communicate with their next door neighbor.

This is a clear violation of the Kekoas’ First Amendment right to freedom of expression which is to ignore the neighbor, not to mention the use of excessive force when there was no code-violation, no crime, no probable cause and no warrant to justify such actions. The Kekoas’ right to have privacy and live peaceably in their own home has also been clearly violated, in addition to living with the fear of being intimidated, bullied and forced into a confrontation by the government whenever someone wants the police to do their bidding. Not only is this a complete waste of resources over a non-criminal matter, this is an absolute abuse of power by government code-enforcement employees who are trained to handle unsightly trash or overgrown weeds and tree branches, not complex relationships and private civil matters.

Another great place on the internet to show your CopBlock love.

Another great place on the internet to show your CopBlock love.

Throughout the entire 45 minute scene in front of the Kekoas’ home, Officer Tom Carlson repeatedly tries to pressure the Kekoas to take part in their “new program” which is designed to have them “abide by an agreement” with the neighbor. This meeting is supposed to take place while sitting at a table in a “controlled environment” run by government “facilitators” and trained “professional mediators” whose “job is to help” neighbors with issues such as a “lack of communication.” The Kekoas expressed repeatedly that they have no interest whatsoever in being “programmed” by the government and have no intention of going to any meetings with the neighbor.

Supervisor Stephanie Pelster also admitted multiple times to the harassment and apologized to Danielle Kekoa for “banging on the door, dragging you out of your home…and disturbing your peace.” By the end of the confrontation, the Northglenn Code-Enforcement “Mediation Team” acknowledged that the Kekoas “want to be left alone” and that the neighbor should be told to “mind your own business.” Regarding all the “busybody” behavior by the neighbor and not being able to live in peace at home, Supervisor Stephanie Pelster said repeatedly to the Kekoas, “That’s no way to live.” The Supervisor reassured the Kekoa family that the neighbor would be advised to “leave them alone and pretend that they’re not there” or to “build a privacy fence” so she doesn’t have to look in the backyard and start problems. But naturally, the neighbor disregarded the advice.

The Kekoas were also given business cards by each of the “Professional Mediation Officers” and were told that they could be contacted if there was anything that was needed. Supervisor Pelster extended a personal invitation to Danielle Kekoa to, “Call if you need anything.” Danielle Kekoa made multiple attempts to contact the Supervisor Stephanie Pelster, leaving at least three voice messages, but Pelster did not return the phone call. According to Officer Tom Carlson, email messages sent by Danielle Kekoa to Northglenn reportedly went to the spam folder and could not be accessed by any of the recipients, though they could see it on their spam folders.

banner cbn on fbOfficer Tom Carlson was also left a message and returned the call. After speaking with Danielle Kekoa for nearly 30 minutes, Tom Carlson sent a letter to the Kekoas at their request saying in part:
“Based on our phone conversation, it is clearly evident you are not interested with being involved with any type of mediation between you and your neighbor. We as the City will not try to contact you in reference to mediation services from this point forward.”

(The recording with Tom Carlson and Danielle Kekoa will be released soon.)

As a direct result of the government getting involved with a personal and private matter, the neighbor’s antagonistic and aggressive attitude towards the Kekoas, along with her abuse of Police resources have only escalated since the Northglenn “Professional Mediation Task Force” arrived. Now the Kekoa family is being targeted even further by the neighbor and law enforcement for simply trying to live at peace in their own house. Attempts to file a complaint against the neighbor or the City of Northglenn with Officer J. Burke #445 have been ignored, mocked and disregarded by him and the Northglenn Police Department.

This recent incident in August 2015 is more evidence of a long pattern of harassment by the City of Northglenn against the Kekoas dating back to October 2011 on multiple false allegations of child abuse, Social Services investigations, anonymous “welfare” checks, threats of false arrest over “harassment” and more. Each frivolous investigation by the government was closed and unfounded because evidence does not exist for such false accusations. Yet no investigation has ever been conducted to look into the violent criminals who have repeatedly called the police on the Kekoas making false reports against them over the past four years. Furthermore, the Kekoas have received multiple death threats which they have reported and have not been followed up by the police which puts the family and the entire community at even greater risk since Northglenn Police officers refuse to serve and protect them. The Kekoas’ rights have been violated even further by not being offered equal protection under the law as the Fourteenth Amendment states.

banner copblock twitterOn Thursday, September 3, 2015, EXACTLY TWO WEEKS AFTER the disturbance over the neighbor and one week after the phone conversation with Tom Carlson, an Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy began knocking on the Kekoas’ door on multiple home visits. It is presumed that the neighbor is now using the Sheriff’s office to harass the Kekoas and force them into a confrontation since it didn’t work with Northglenn’s “Professional Mediation Task Force” earlier. But the Kekoas refuse to be forced into another confrontation—especially by the Sheriff on behalf of the neighbor!

The Kekoas plan to hold the City of Northglenn accountable for being unjustly targeted and for the pattern of harassment from 2011 to the present day. And the only way to hold the city accountable is to release the video evidence to be examined by the court of public opinion since law enforcement is completely incompetent and can’t be expected or trusted to do the right thing. The community in Northglenn expects every “Service Officer” to operate within the law and show every resident in town the same level of Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect to ensure we all have a safe and peaceful place to live.

– Danielle Kekoa

Follow on Twitter: RECORD the COPS @CopRecordings

LINK: http://www.policerecordingskekoas.com/2015/09/caught-on-camera-harassment.html

THANK YOU COP BLOCK! YOU ROCK!

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Northglenn Police Employees’ Contact Information:

City of Northglenn Neighborhood Services
12301 Claude Court
P.O. Box 330061
Northglenn, CO 80241-3310
www.northglenn.org

Supervisor Stephanie Pelster, Professional Mediator & Code Enforcement Officer
Phone #: 303-280-7840 | email: [email protected]

banner buy shiny badgesOfficer Tom Carlson, Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement & Professional Mediator
Phone #: 303-280-7844 | email: [email protected]

Officer Phil Stiebler, Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement & Professional Mediator
Phone #: 303-280-7861 | email: [email protected]

Officer Michelle Soustek, #438, Community Service Officer Northglenn Police Dept.
11701 Community Center Drive
Northglenn, CO 80233-8061
Phone #: 303-450-8807 | email: [email protected]

Police Officer J. Burke, #445 Northglenn Police Dept.
11701 Community Center Drive
Northglenn, CO 80233-8061
Phone #: 303-450-8445 | email: [email protected]

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*WATCH PREVIEW HERE (8mins): https://youtu.be/Fspddd8qfzg
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: HARASSMENT & INTIMIDATION by NORTHGLENN “MEDIATION FORCE” v. THE KEKOAS

SupportCopblock Square BannerTYRANNICAL INCOMPETENCE = ASTONISHING VIOLATIONS OF CIVIL RIGHTS. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GOVERNMENT DOESN’T KNOW ITS PLACE AND INTERFERES WITH AND ATTEMPTS TO REGULATE COMPLEX PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITHOUT CAUSE AGAINST ONE PRIVATE PARTY ON BEHALF OF ANOTHER.

*WATCH FULL VIDEO HERE (1hr 22mins): https://youtu.be/TA5T4Umu-iI
THE ESCALATION & THE “MEDIATION” CAUGHT ON CAMERA: HARASSMENT & INTIMIDATION by NORTHGLENN “MEDIATION FORCE” vs. THE KEKOAS

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After $200K Settlement, Indianapolis Cops Instructed Not To Interfere With Citizens Filming Police Activity

 The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by a reader going by the pseudonym “Ghost,” via the CopBlock.org submissions page. The post was originally published at RT.com under the title, “Indianapolis Cops Must Allow Citizens to Film Police Activity After $200K Settlement.

The terms of a recently settled lawsuit in Indianapolis, Indiana will require the city’s police force to remind officers that it’s legal for civilians to videotape on-duty cops, but it will also cost the department more than just that.

In addition to having to adopt an official policy recognizing the right for citizens to record law enforcement officials, the City of Indianapolis is also cutting a $200,000 check for a local man who was arrested and injured by police in 2011 after he refused to stop filming a nearby arrest.

Willie King was watching Indianapolis police officers arrest a young man in his neighbor’s driveway three years ago this month when he decided it would be a good idea to grab his cellphone and start recording. The cops weren’t too keen about being caught on film, however, and ordered King, then 66 years old, to hand over his phone.

“Sir, you know that if he resists any more they can take your phone as evidence,” an officer was caught saying, according to transcripts published this week by local news network WISH-TV.

“I don’t give a [expletive] what you do, y’all just don’t harm him,” King responded.

When King refused to stop recording from his neighbor’s porch, he was tackled to the ground, arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

King was ultimately found not guilty of those charges, but turned around and filed a civil suit against the city over alleged First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations.

That case was scheduled to go to trial starting March 10, but it’s now been reported that the city decided to settle this past January.

King is being awarded $200,000 from the city as part of that settlement, but the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is also being forced to institute a new policy prohibiting police officers from bothering with eyewitnesses who are recording their actions.

According to excerpts of the policy published on Thursday by WISH-TV, local law enforcement officials have 60 days to adopt a policy that states “police officers should not interfere with civilians who are observing or recording their actions by video or audio in public, so long as the civilians maintain a safe and reasonable distance if necessary from the scene of a police action, do not physically interfere with the officers’ performance of their duty and do not represent a physical danger to the officers, civilians or others.”

“Willie King was wronged when the officers stopped his videotaping and took away his cellphone,” King’s attorney, Richard Waples, was quoted as saying by The Indiana Lawyer website. “We want to make sure that in the future police officers understand that people have the right to video record their actions.”

“We thought it was important in this case, not to just try to get compensation from Mr. King which we were able to do, but also to get the police department to realize, hey, they need to train their officers, and say you can’t interfere with people’s rights to record and observe what you’re doing in public,” Waples told the network.

According to Marilyn Odendahl at The Indiana Lawyer, Waples added that the recent victory “secures the right of all citizens to observe and record police officers’ public actions.”

Previously, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit — whose jurisdiction includes Indiana, among other states —acknowledged that “The act of making an audio or audiovisual recording is necessarily included within the First Amendment’s guarantee of speech and press rights as a corollary of the right to disseminate the resulting recording.”

“Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply,” reads a portion of the American Civil Liberties Union’s official website.

– Ghost