Tag Archives: honesty

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)

Free Screening of “If a Tree Falls” Sept. 12th in Las Vegas

September's Radical Movie Night Features a Free Screening of "If a Tree Falls"
September’s Radical Movie Night Features a Free Screening of “If a Tree Falls”

Sept. “Radical Movie Night”

September 12th marks the debut of Las Vegas’ own Radical Movie Night, hosted by the Sunset Activist Collective, co- Sponsored by Nevada Cop Block and Food Not Bombs Las Vegas, and officially endorsed by the Las Vegas A-Cafe. This will be a monthly free showing of either a documentary or a movie with significant social value. The main purpose of Radical Movie Nights will be to connect local community members and encourage active participation within the local community by those within it to promote and empower those wishing to make positive grassroots-based improvements where they live and within their personal workplaces.

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 actions against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (for more info about the AETA and local actions in response to it, see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/07/animal-enterprise-terrorism-act_n_5659893.html) beginning in September, the first movie that will be shown is ” If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” a documentary about the Earth Liberation Front, in general, and one of its members, Daniel G. McGowan, who was characterized as a terrorist by the US government after his arrest for environmental activism actions, in particular.

Radical Movie Nights in Las Vegas will take place every second Friday at the Sci Fi Center

Radical Movie Nights in Las Vegas will take place every second Friday at the Sci Fi Center

The movie, which was nominated for an Academy  Award and won numerous other awards, shows the history and personal reasons why those involved in the ELF actions did what they did and how they became “radicalized,” during previous less militant actions. In addition it addresses issues involving the declaring activists, who never actually harmed or ever tried to harm people, terrorists, based solely on property damage.

However, it also interviews and discusses the perspective of the targets of those actions and the effects they had on them. As a result, it is a fairly even handed presentation of the facts involved, which allows viewers to decide for themselves who was right or wrong and why.

 

About the Movie (via http://www.ifatreefallsfilm.com/):

“In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front– a group the FBI has called America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.”

For years, the ELF—operating in separate anonymous cells without any central leadership—had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado.

With the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country.

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of this ELF cell, by focusing on the transformation and radicalization of one of its members.

Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thrilller, the film interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Drawing from striking archival footage — much of it never before seen — and intimate interviews with ELF members, and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them, IF A TREE FALLS explores the tumultuous period from 1995 until early 2001 when environmentalists were clashing with timber companies and law enforcement, and the word “terrorism” had not yet been altered by 9/11.”

Kelly W. Patterson of NVCopBlock On Non Partisan Liberty For All

Beware of Local Gang Members in the Las Vegas Area

Beware of Local Gang Members in the Las Vegas Area

Recently, I did an interview for an internet radio show on Block Talk Radio. The show is entitled “Non Partisan Liberty for All” and is hosted by Dave Bourne. While it can be heard everywhere (except most of China and sometimes parts of San Francisco) via the internets, it is based locally here in Las Vegas.

The main reason I came on was to discuss the article I had just posted about the suspicious events surrounding the hit and run incident I was involved in back in March and the chances that it was an intentional act committed in retaliation for my opposition to and exposure of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Department”s corruption and other crimes, including the murder of Stanley Gibson by Jesus Arevalo and complete lack of accountability for abuses committed against other local residents. In the process, we discussed my own history and how I originally got involved in activism.

Among other things, I spoke about how I evolved from someone who believed in the basic philosophy of Anarchism, but didn’t think of it as a viable, real world possibility into someone that believes in and advocates for an Anarchist society. I also discussed my personal history with the Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe and Charles (RadGeek) Johnson, my initial meetings with Cop Block founders Pete Eyre and Ademo Freeman and how the harassment of homeless people  and peaceful activists that I witnessed while working with Food Not Bombs Las Vegas helped to shape my anti-police brutality based activism and ultimately the founding of Nevada Cop Block.

Scott Crow will be in Vegas Monday, May 19th

Scott Crow Will be in Las Vegas Again Monday, May 19th from 6-8pm at Reclaimed Art Suppliez

Another reason I came on was to announce Scott Crow‘s upcoming talk on Monday, May 19th, from 6 to 8 PM at Reclaimed Art Suppliez, which is located in Downtown Las Vegas, within the Arts district. Scott Crow, author of “Black Flags and Windmills” and one of the founders of the Common Ground Collective, is an excellent speaker and Anarchist organizer. His talk, entitled “What Me Worry? The Rise of the Surveillance State & What We Can Do About It” promises to be excellent and very relevant to Las Vegas activists.

Although Dave has only been doing this show for about a month (as of mid-May 2014), it’s a good show and he’s a great host. I’m looking forward to doing future appearances with the show and very much encourage Cop Block fans and others interested in liberty and freedom to tune in. In fact, you never know when other awesome Cop Block contributors, such as MO/KC Cop Block‘s (and Women of Cop Block, too) Janel Florez might put in an appearance or when Deo from Greater Cleveland Cop Block might call in to talk about awesome videos the  crew out there in Ohio have made.

And before you go, don’t forget to head over to the NVCopBlock shop to get your Official Cop Block Press Pass and/or a Nevada Cop Block T-Shirt. In fact, in honor of the Cop Block Press Passes Facebook Page going over 1,000 “likes” a couple days ago, anything in the Nevada Cop Block shop is 10% off until May 22nd (2014) if you use coupon code “1kLikes” in the cart.

Listen to NVCopBlock.org’s Own Kelly W. Patterson on “Non Partisan Liberty For All”

Listen To Politics Internet Radio Stations with Non Partisan Liberty For all on BlogTalkRadio

“25 Feet of Injustice” by Ballentine of the Sunset Activist Collective

A Statement Regarding the “Chalk Back” Action of Jan. 19, 2013, Hosted by Nevada Cop Block:

25 ft of Injustice

So Much Injustice, So Little Pavement.

At the end of today when I got home my hands were black with dirt, my knees were bruised and I have a pretty nice blister going on one of my toes. I did four hours of dancing and then went over to fight for justice for the people who have been murdered by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. When I say “murdered” I mean just that. I mean that Stanley Gibson, Trevon Cole, Erik Scott and a dozen or so others were actually murdered by the police.

Many of the actions we do against the police are chalking actions because it has the effect of making a powerful statement to people walking by and it lets the police know that we are watching them and won’t stand for this. We know that our corrupt government backs the police 100% of the time and that if a cop kills someone, they’ll get a desk job whereas if I did it I’d face a trial for my life or liberty.

We do not accept this and so once again, we joined others downtown at the Clark County Government Center and the police head quarters up the street to express ourselves and our frustrations on the side walk. I usually know at least some of the people who do this with us. This time I was pleased to find only two people who I’d met before which is good because it means that new people are interested.

One of these people was Rondha Gibson, the widow of Stanley Gibson, she walked around and read the things we wrote and I could see she was very much still grieving a year now since her husband was taken away from her needlessly.

The issue of police brutality is near and dear to the Sunset Activist Collective. Our final point on the eight principles reads that even if a person doesn’t belong to the 1% they can still protect the 1% or long to be among them. That’s what the police do. They make capitalism possible. This idea that the police are here to protect people is bullshit. The police are the internal armed wing of the government, sent to do it and the corporation’s (like Zappos) bidding. We also recognize and oppose a pattern of violence against the poor and against minority groups on the part of the government and the police. For these reasons we stand against the police.

Sunset was instrumental in helping craft the demands against the police department and local government. Sometime ago, the father of victim Erik Scott noticed our demands and helped spread them around. Through these protests we met Rondha and Rondha now knows the Father of Erik Scott. We will bring justice to the people who live here.

The way my hands and knees got scraped up was I spent quite awhile on them scrawling the demands of Sunset and NVCopBlock.org on the sidewalk and then I listed some of the more well known abuses of the police in Vegas, five to be specific: The recent murders of a dog named “Bubba”, Stanley Gibson, Erik Scott, and Trevon Cole, as well as Emmauel Dozier, who didn’t get shot or die but actually shot four pigs who he thought were breaking into his home during an unannounced drug raid. He has been charged with trying to kill these cops. No drugs were found.

I left out quite a few stories of abuse, sexual assault, other murders, and stories of abuse from the North Las Vegas cops or the pigs in Henderson. When I’d finished writing I noticed that these five injustices with our ten demands took up about 25 feet of sidewalk. When you can fill a sidewalk with that much shame and terror then its time for things to stop.

Government has not listened. The public protects the police by enabling them, telling them “thank you” and giving them little things to eat. I say stop. I say adopt the policy of “I don’t speak pig.” You don’t have to tell a cop anything except your name, age and place of residency. You don’t have to show them anything other than your ID. Tonight as we were traveling from the government center to the police Head Quarters a pig pulled up alongside us, got out and said “how’s it going?”

I said nothing. I refuse to let this person into my life or to greet him. He then asked “do you mind if I ask where you are going?” or something like that. Kelly looked at this pig and said “Actually I do mind if you ask, its none of your business.” Then we started walking away. We could hear the cop still trying to talk to people. He reminded me of a nerd that used to linger around everyone when we were hanging out, he’d try and start a conversation with you and you’d just ignore him. It must feel awful to have people give you the cold shoulder. That is how that cop was treated and that makes me happy. That we made this person uncomfortable. I’m proud of Kelly for the correct response. I’m proud of everyone who when asked “who is in charge?” didn’t say anything or said “no one.”

Anyone who talks to the cops legitimizes them. I’m not here to be friendly. I’m here because someone they know murdered someone. I don’t want to hang out and shoot the shit, I’m upset and rightfully so. And anyone who has a problem with me using the word “pig” to describe a police officer, they probably read my web posts and the sunset website. I make sure to call them that so they will read it and have a terrible rest of the day. It’s the least I can do.

As we all were getting packed up we talked about doing this monthly until the revolution comes. We discussed setting up a planning meeting to bring more people down for these. If you’re interested let me know.

-Ballentine, the Sunset Activist Collective

Don’t Let Coroner’s Inquest Reforms Become Yet Another Victim of Police Intimidation

Las Vegas Coroner's Inquest

Why are Las Vegas area police so afraid of transparency and accountability?

Tomorrow, Dec. 4th, beginning at 9:30 AM the Clark County Commission is scheduled to vote on proposed reforms to the Coroner’s Inquest process in which killings by Las Vegas area police are reviewed and facts surrounding them are made public.

If you have any desire to see transparency in cases where police shoot people and accountability for those innocent people amongst that rapidly growing number you should do everything you can to attend that meeting and let your feelings be known. (See map below.)

Reportedly, with the exception of Chris Giunchigliani, the commission is preparing to vote against the proposed reforms, which would effectively end the Coroner’s Inquests.

As has been well documented, the original Coroner’s Inquests served more as a dog and pony show where the official cover story was pushed and contradictory evidence and witnesses were minimized or outright withheld. All of which only served to exonerate police when they murdered innocent people rather than as a true fact finding investigation.

The inevitable criticisms and lack of confidence in such an obviously orchestrated and dishonest process led to demands for reforms from the families of people killed by Las Vegas police under suspicious circumstances, several communitty organizations, as well as both the NAACP and ACLU on behalf of victims. The resulting reforms, while not a perfect solution provided for several changes in the Coroner’s Inquest process to bring more transparency and increase the chance for true accountability, such as the ability for the victims to be represented by a lawyer that would have the ability to question witnesses. This in and of itself was an important step forward, since the District Attorney, who controls all the evidence and witnesses presented during the Coroner’s Inquest, has demonstrated a bias toward the police officers involved.

Las Vegas Coroner's Inquests

An all too common in the Las Vegas area lately.

Not surprisingly, the police and in particular the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (LVPPA) have very little interest in a transparent process that might expose the murders their colleagues have committed. The LVPPA in it’s misguided attempts to “protect” police regardless of how glaringly wrong individual cops might be in a case or how negatively that affects the ability of other cops to do their job, has advised police not to cooperate with the new inquest should it be implemented. They also attempted to have the reforms thrown out as unconstitutional via a lawsuit that failed, but required that some minor procedural alterations be made to who was in charge of the inquest proceedings.

Unfortunately, largely because of that refusal to participate by local police, the County Commissioners are reportedly ready to buckle to pressure and scrap the Coroner’s Inquest process altogether. This would be bad for many reasons, not the least of which are that the alternatives are dramatically worse than the already inadequate original version of the Coroner’s Inquest was.

In most cases since the Coroner’s Inquests were put on hold, District Attorney Steve Wolfson has been issuing statements to explain his lack of desire to hold officers accountable for their actions. The fact that he recently stated that Henderson police are actually trained to kick defenseless people in the head repeatedly as a reason for not punishing a police officer in one of those statements doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence in that as a viable substitute.

Nor does the use of grand juries as the other apparent option hold much hope for a fair outcome. As was pointed out on this site a while back, grand juries are highly secretive and in pretty much every other respect, including the DA’s exclusive control over witnesses and evidence, have all the same flaws that the previous Coroner’s Inquest process contained.

The lack of accountability for their actions up to and including outright murder has lead to a shoot first mentality amongst the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and other area police. It’s actually getting to the point where it is hard to keep track of the instances of police involved shooting because they happen so often. Recently approved reforms are the only way to ensure transparency and justice for the families of the victims of questionable shooting by local police.

Further Info and Reasons to Support Coroner’s Inquest Reforms:

Erik Scott

Erik Scott was murdered by Las Vegas Metro police on July 10, 2010. The obvious problems with the Coroner’s Inquest proceeding in his case were likely the final straw that lead to the current reforms.

Statement (via Facebook post) from Bill Scott, Eric Scott‘s father:

Per Lisa’s appeal (below), please consider being at the County Commissioners’ meeting on 4 Dec.

Potential Outcome 1: If the commissioners cave in to the PPA (police union), only the District Attorney will be deciding whether officer-involved shootings were justified. As DA Steve Wolfson has demonstrated, to date, he NEVER finds fault with Metro shootings, because he relies completely on Metro’s flawed “investigations” of OISs.

In a recent case, Wolfson “chose” to not review high-definition security-system video evidence that clearly proved Metro officers shot and killed a young man for no reason (the Olivas murder). If the DA can’t be bothered to look at indisputable data/evidence that counters Metro’s cover-up narrative, how will 1) victims’ families know the facts surrounding their loved ones’ death, and 2) rogue/bad police officers be held accountable for shooting innocents?

Potential Outcome 2: If the county commissioners decide to eliminate the NEW coroner’s inquest process and go back to the long-ago-discredited grand jury process, reviews of OISs will be a secret, closed-door process. The grand jury would be stacked with “citizens” who are cop-friendly, and, again, rogue/bad cops would be routinely exonerated. That outcome is virtually guaranteed, because appointments to the grand jury would be carefully controlled by those friendly to Metro and beholden to intransigent obstructionists, the PPA union.

If the community is to have any hope of holding its police force accountable, getting rid of dangerous “cowboy cops,” and stopping the epidemic of senseless, deadly OISs, it’s imperative that county commissioners modify the NEW coroner’s inquest ordinance to ensure it complies with the recent Nevada Supreme Court ruling.

That’s a simple change to the existing ordinance, but the PPA union is fighting reinstatement of inquest hearings under the new procedures, and any other credible means for “civilians” to hold police officers accountable for their deadly behavior.

Unless hundreds of Las Vegas-area citizens show up on 4 Dec. and explain to the commissioners that murders-by-cops will NOT be tolerated, the PPA will prevail, and the commissioners will cave to union and DA pressure. And killer-cops will never again be deterred from shooting, when less-than-lethal alternatives would be more appropriate.

As you think about whether to expend the time and effort to attend the 4 Dec. meeting, please consider: If Officer Wm. Mosher had been TRULY held accountable for his 2006 shooting, he might have been either in prison, or fired from the Metro police force and not on the streets of Las Vegas on July 10, 2010. And my son, Erik, would be alive today.

Letting PPA union thugs run roughshod over county commissioners and a community has deadly consequences. Erik paid for Metro/PPA thuggery with his life. Who will be the next killer-cops’ victims?

Thanks for your kind support of this vital campaign to restore justice.

Regards,
Bill Scott

The post referencedby Bill Scott in his statement:

When the Government Prosecutes one of Its Own, the Scales of justice are Tipped Heavily Against the Common Citizen

STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW.

The Clark County Commission will be discussing the coroner’s inquest process for officer-involved homicides on December 4, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. We need the Commission to pass a simple housekeeping measure to allow the inquests to proceed. The Commission needs to understand that the public does not want it to abandon or water down the coroner’s inquests for officer-involved homicides. The LVMPD has a very high rate of officer-involved homicides, and the public deserves to know the facts when a member of the community is killed.

Meet outside the County Commission building at 9:15 a.m. on December 4, 2012. We will have free t-shirts so you can tell the Commission: “START THE INQUESTS. WE DESERVE TO KNOW.”

What is the inquest process?
In December of 2010, the coroner’s inquest process was reformed into a transparent, public airing of the facts when the LVMPD kills a member of the public. The 2010 reforms did not make the process adversarial. They replaced the jury and verdict with a panel and neutral factual findings. To help get at the truth and ensure fairness, they also provided for participation by the officers, family members, and the public. The reforms were responsive to widespread concerns from citizens and the product of a democratic process and public input. The Sheriff supported the reforms and they also had broad public support (including from PLAN, the Las Vegas NAACP, NACJ, and the ACLU).

Why haven’t we had any inquests since reforms were passed?
Unfortunately, the Police Protective Association (PPA) has fought the implementation of the new inquest process, trying to avoid transparency. The Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court of Nevada have both rejected the PPA’s arguments that the process violated their rights, finding that the coroner’s inquest is a fair process. The Nevada Legislature also refused to abolish the inquest.

How can we fix the inquests?
The Nevada Supreme Court recently held that justices of the peace cannot preside over the inquests under current law. The Clark County Commission can easily fix this technical, procedural issue if it has the political will to stand up to the PPA. The issue regarding who should oversee inquests was not part of the 2010 changes. The pre-2007 had hearing master, oversee inquests. Just like justices of the peace, hearing masters are attorneys. They already oversee non-officer homicide inquests and are qualified to preside over inquests into officer-involved homicides.

Why should the inquest be fixed?

Stanley L. Gibson

Stanley L. Gibson, a disabled Army vet, was murdered by Ofc. Jesus Arevalo on Dec. 12, 2012

The public deserves to know what happens when the LVMPD kills a member of the community, and transparency is needed to restore the trust between the LVMPD and the public. The County has spent significant sums of money and time on the 2010 reform process, to defend the inquest in court, and to lobby at the legislature. That money should not go to waste.

Most importantly, since the 2010 changes were passed, there have been 22 officer-involved homicides. This means that a total of twenty two families now stand in line waiting to learn the facts about how their loved ones were killed. Without an inquest, there is no way for families to get direct access to information about their family members’ deaths. The families and the public that employs police officers want and deserve an open and transparent process in place so they can assess the facts surrounding office-involved homicides themselves.

Is there any reason to wait?
There is no reason to keep delaying. While the PPA has appealed the case it lost in federal court to the Ninth Circuit, there is no stay or injunction in place and nothing stopping the inquest from moving forward. In fact, both the Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court have already determined that the process adequately protects the rights of officers. Even if the PPA continues to improperly refuse to allow officers to participate regardless of whether the officers have any right to the protection of the Fifth Amendment claim, the inquests can move forward. Enough other evidence—evidence such as dispatch records, other witnesses, reports, and even video in some cases—can tell the story of what happened.

No more excuses. Start the inquests. We deserve to know.

————————————————————————————-

Be there and make your voice heard!


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LVMPD Budget Cuts: Finally, Minorities and Poor People Benefit from the Recession

Guess who lives in the neighborhoods LVMPD “saturates.”.

Recently, Sheriff Doug Gillespie made an announcement that, due to budget shortfalls, Las Vegas police would be forced to shift 26 cops from the D.A.R.E program and one of four “saturation teams” back to patrol duty. This along with hiring freezes instituted earlier in the year, was of course couched in terms of Las Vegas area residents becoming less safe, as a result:

“Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s face was grim as he described the largest budget shortfall yet facing Metro Police: an estimated $46.5 million deficit for 2013…

‘Should the community be concerned,” Gillespie said in a Metro video. “Yes. They

Las Vegas Sheriff Doug Gillespie looking very much like he needs a hug.

should be concerned…’

Deputy Chief Kevin McMahill said in a Metro video he’s worried about the demands placed on remaining officers and the community.

‘Will it be less safe? That’s a tough thing for me to sit and say to you,’ McMahill said. ‘The truth is probably…'”

And not surprisingly, either, the affected programs are characterized as essential crime prevention tools that should take priority over everything else:

“They’re cops dedicated to preventing crime in the valley.

But now they’re a luxury the Metropolitan Police Department can’t afford…

“I think it’s one of the few ways we could keep kids off drugs. It’s bothersome to me and bothersome to the community,” he (Las  Vegas Police Union head Chris Collins) said.

But the cuts will continue until Las Vegas and Clark County, which fund about 70 percent of the Metropolitan Police Department’s budget, figure out their priorities, he said.

“You still see city and county parks are being built. Why are you building parks but not funding the Police Department to the level it needs to keep citizens safe?” he asked.

All this teeth gnashing and hand wringing over being unable to fund cops and stuff that the community actually benefits from kinda explains why the city recently implemented what amounts to a protection racket style extortion scheme against local artists participating in First Fridays a few months back.

However, reality tells a very different story in regards to both of these programs.

A License to Harass: Saturating Certain Communities

They’ll find an excuse to stop you (unless you’re in Summerlin).

The so-called “saturation teams,” which were conceived and implemented by Metro Capt. Jim Dixon and Gillespie (prior to him becoming the sheriff) back in 2005, are actually glorified harassment squads that descend upon designated areas looking for any excuse to stop, search, and arrest the people within those neighborhoods.

“They use whatever laws are at their disposal: jaywalking, riding a bicycle without reflectors, outstanding warrants. They work together, swarming “hot spots” around the valley…

‘We’re like wolves,” officer Justin Gauker says. “We travel in a pack.'”

Those of us that are familiar with the way these wolves usually hunt aren’t exactly shocked by the selective nature of their prey or even how brazen they are when discussing it:

 Sat team officers have to make constant judgment calls. They won’t pull over and arrest someone in Summerlin (a more affluent, predominantly white section of Vegas), for example, who doesn’t have bike reflectors…

It’s old-school policing with professionalism…

I wouldn’t exactly disagree that “old-school policing” often included a lot of  swarming through minority and poor neighborhoods rousting anyone that they arbitrarily decide “is up to something” or “doesn’t belong there.” However, the professionalism of punishing everyone who lives in a certain location for the actions of a small segment of that location’s residents is a little more subjective. Also, it’s no secret that police stop minorities more often, look harder for an excuse to search them once stopped, and are much more likely to make an arrest if something is found. There is a reason that “old schools” get closed down. Usually they provide really shitty educations.

 DARE: A History of Failure and Community Destruction

Meanwhile, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program is actually an overly expensive program that has consistently been found to be ineffective and even potentially counter-productive. DARE programs really are nothing more than a product of police desire to justify increased funding, allow access to children for propaganda and informant recruitment purposes, and even convince them to turn their own parents in for minor, victimless drug “crimes.”

The advent of DARE programs has correlated with a steep increase in drug use among school children.

“DARE is costly and ineffective. It wastes educational and police resources. The link between schools and drug police has become a sacred cow that leads to a false sense of security, despite clear evidence that DARE is a failure. Since its curriculum went national, two patterns have emerged: more students now do drugs, and they start using drugs at an earlier age…

DARE has a hidden agenda. DARE is more than just a thinly veiled public relations device for the police department. It is a propaganda tool that indoctrinates children in the politics of the Drug War, and a hidden lobbying strategy to increase police budgets.”

Even the psychologists that created the basis for the model DARE uses have since denounced it as “misguided and outdated.”

“DARE is rooted in trash psychology,” Colson told me two years ago. “We developed the theories that DARE was founded on, and we were wrong. Even Abe Maslow wrote about these theories being wrong before he died.”

Which is true, said Boulder psychotherapist Ellen Maslow, Abraham Maslow’s daughter. She called DARE “nonsense” in 1996, saying the program represented widespread misinterpretation of humanistic psychology.

The Economy isn’t the Only Reason Metro is Over Budget

A reenactment of local governments’ spending policies over the past few years.

At the root of all this is the basic question of why Metro is over budget in the first place. The economic downturn that has hit Las Vegas especially hard certainly plays a part in it, although the reserve fund area police accumulated during the good times has been able to offset that up until this year. The real reason that local police departments’ funds are running dry is because they spent the past few years throwing cash around like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

Local governments throughout Southern Nevada decided to disregard the economic crash that everyone else in the world saw coming and go on a spending spree beginning in 2009. The city of Las Vegas, which is responsible for 40% of Metro’s budget, spent $146 million building a new city hall building that they couldn’t afford to staff five days a week anymore by the time of its opening.

North Las Vegas, which flirted with bankruptcy last year prior to taking advantage of a loophole that allowed them to declare a state of emergency in order to circumvent mandated spending requirements and also has been threatened with a takeover by state overseers, spent $130 million on their own fancy new city hall.

LVMPD’s fancy new (and expensive) digs.

Not to be outdone, LVMPD decided that they needed to have a “place of their own” after getting by all these years using space within the old city hall building and rented spaces throughout different areas of town. Instead of joining in on the move to the new city hall or taking over an existing government owned property (including the old city hall), they began construction on a brand new 370,000 square-foot complex.

While the construction costs seems to be a better kept secret than the location of the Holy Grail, it’s been widely reported that they are paying over $12.5 million per year, plus an annual increase of 2%, on top of that to lease the land the new headquarters was built on from a private real estate company.

All of this spending is usually explained away by the fact that they were planned back during the “good times,” even though everyone of them actually received their final approval late in 2009, well after the recession had already begun. The other go-to justification was (as is often the case for these sort of things) job creation, which in reality has amounted to nothing but temporary construction jobs during the building phase.

In fact, the expenditures from that construction has actually eliminated permanent jobs. As mentioned, the Las Vegas city hall is now only open four days a week. North Las Vegas has not only laid off public workers (including cops and firemen), but has also closed down it’s jail and has been rumored to have made unsuccessful ovatures to merge their entire police force with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Sheriff Gillespie has up until now been able to stave off large scale layoffs at Metro by not replacing retiring officers, drawing off the once large reserve funds, and doing a bit of creative math to shift expenses around.

Las Vegas Police Shooting Themselves in the Foot

Not an actual Metro police training illustration.

Another factor that has become a negative draw on Metro’s budget has been their tendency to beat, kill, and otherwise abuse people around the valley including completely innocent people and people they just don’t feel like chasing. The 150+ settlements that Las Vegas area police have paid out over the last five years alone (plus another $20 million lawsuit already in the pipeline) come out of that reserve fund and, of course, your pocket. Between the $6.5 million in direct cash paid out and all the salaries being paid to cops sitting home on paid vacation while their friends in the department figure out a way to exonerate them, a lot of Metro’s personnel woes could be alleviated if they just started asking a few questions before shooting or at least afterwards.

The propensity that cops in and around Las Vegas have for brutalizing its inhabitants has both monetary and physical consequences. Since local taxpayers foot the bill for these settlements and most of the offending officers are still on the payroll, these budget cuts are actually one of the few times that local cops have in any way felt repercussions for instances of police brutality.

Unfortunately, it’s not the actual cops responsible for these transgressions that will suffer, but rather it will be new (as of yet) untainted recruits that won’t be hired as a result. However, on the upside, there will be one less saturation team available to harass and abuse people that can’t afford to live in Summerlin.

And that’s a good start…

“I Want Them to be Afraid Every Time They See the Police”

It’s rare that you see that sort of statement from a police chief quoted in a newspaper. Not so much because it’s rare for police to feel that way, but more so because most of them know enough not to be that honest about how they feel. But not Homer, La. Police Chief Russell Mills, who believes that the key to lowering crime in a community lies in harassing and beating up every black person in that community, even if they didn’t do anything and especially if they are young and have friends:

“If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names,” said Mills, who is white. “I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested.”

Which is why it isn’t that surprising when two of his officers end up under investigation for shooting an unarmed man and then, according to witnesses, planting a weapon next to him to justify the shooting.

On the last afternoon of his life, Bernard Monroe was hosting a cookout for family and friends in front of his dilapidated home in this small northern Louisiana town.

Throat cancer had left the 73-year-old retired electric utility worker unable to talk, but family members said he clearly was enjoying the commotion of a dozen of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren cavorting in the grassless yard.

Then the Homer police showed up, two white officers whose arrival caused the participants at the black family’s gathering to fall silent.

Within moments, Monroe was dead, shot by one of the officers as his family looked on…

“He just shot him through the screen door,” said Denise Nicholson, a family friend who said she was standing a few feet away. “After [Monroe] was on the ground, we kept asking the officer to call an ambulance, but all he did was get on his radio and say, ‘Officer in distress.’ ”

The witnesses said the second officer picked up a handgun that Monroe, an avid hunter, always kept in plain sight on the porch for protection. Using a latex glove, the officer grasped the gun by its handle, the witnesses said, and ordered everyone to back away. The next thing they said they saw was the gun next to Monroe’s body.

“I saw him pick up the gun off the porch,” Marcus Frazier said. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ The cop told me, ‘Shut the hell up, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ ”

Homer police maintain Monroe was holding a loaded gun when he was shot, but would not comment further.

All of which was preceded by them chasing after that man’s son, who equally unsurprisingly, was in no hurry to be questioned by them, in spite of the fact he wasn’t wanted for anything at the time. Seems that Chief Mills has accomplished his goal.

(Originally posted on EYEAM4ANARCHY)

“Non-Lethal Force” by Charles ‘Rad Geek’ Johnson

[The following post was written by Charles “Rad Geek” Johnson with reference to an article I published last month titled “Burning down the house.” It was originally published at Rad Geek People’s Daily on January 28th. Rad Geek is a Las Vegas-based software developer and libertarian activist who frequently comments about police brutality and cop culture on his personal blog. He also maintains Gangsters In Blue which bills itself as “a blog against paramilitary policing and prisons” and aggregates police-related material from a number of websites including Cop Block.]

Here are the after-effects of some SWAT-police non-lethal force in California, which burned a man to death earlier this month, and set his family’s house on fire in the process. Turns out he was the wrong man, and they were at the wrong house.

According to the Monterey County Weekly, the same police force that burned down the Serrato house and killed Rogelio Serrato in the fire are probing what went wrong in the operation [sic]. Public-spirited fellow that I am, I’ll do what I can to help them figure it out. Here’s what went wrong:

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. Among the most highly trained, and therefore most domineering and violent, are the members of urban SWAT teams, who go beyond everyday bullying and instead are trained to think of themselves as paramilitary strike forces who are occupying hostile territory, and engaged in a war of classic counter-insurgency.

As such, police in general, and police assault forces especially, are trained to enter every encounter with the goal of taking control of the situation, by means of setting up confrontations in situations (no-knock raids, late-night forced-entry raids, etc.) where their chosen targets are most likely to be disoriented and easily terrorized, and by responding with maximal force in the volatile, disorienting confrontations that they create. For the sake of this maximal-force approach, they are equipped with an arsenal of weapons ranging from tasers and clubs to handguns and assault rifles, up to, and including, military helicopters and tanks. Worse, with all these weapons, they have institutionalized a culture of fact-free assertion and lies about highly dangerous weapons that they consider to be categorically non-lethal — and thus to be used as a first resort, in virtually any situation, as long as it might give the cops a tactical advantage over people who they intend to bring under their control (whether or not these people have ever committed any crime at all). These weapons continue to be used with no hesitation and no restraint, and continue to be called non-lethal force, no matter how many people are killed by them. There are, for example, tasers, portable electric torture devices which were originally sold as a less-deadly alternative to using a hand-gun in potentially life-threatening confrontations, but which cops now freely use for as part of pain compliance techniques[ref name=”source1″]

That is, torture.

[/ref] in everyday confrontations with the public. This would be bad enough on its own, but part of the reason they are used so freely is because they take no real exertion for cops to use, and are consistently billed as non-lethal by police and media, even though there are hundreds of documented cases of people dying after being subjected to repeated taser shocks.

Another non-lethal device, which is especially heavily used by SWAT assault forces during paramilitary forced entry house raids, are so-called flash-bang grenades. These grenades, frequently referred to as non-lethal diversionary devices are actually incendiary grenades, which police hurl into rooms full of people in order to set off an explosion, which they hope will disorient and terrorize the people in the room — many or most of them completely innocent people who just had the misfortune of being in the same building — right before the assault force storms in with guns drawn. This is exactly what they did when they surrounded Rogelio Serrato’s house.

So why were they at Rogelio Serrato’s house anyway? Well, they had a search warrant to serve. They say were going to serve the search warrant using these hyperviolent, extremely dangerous stormtrooper tactics because they believed that Serrato had been with a man who shot up a music club on New Years’ Day. But by the time they got out to Serrato’s house, they already knew that they had the wrong address and the wrong man: he wasn’t at the club when the shooting went down, and the identification of Serrato as the man who was with the shooter was simply a case of mistaken identity.

Nevertheless, even though they found out that Serrato had nothing to do with the violent crime which had supposedly mobilized the SWAT team and justified the decision to storm the house in a paramilitary raid, it did turn out that he had a couple of warrants out on misdemeanors which had nothing to do with the shooting. So, they decided they were going to go ahead and arrest him.

Now, you might think that, once they had found out they were at the wrong address, and the only reason they had to worry about Rogelio Serrato at all was a couple of misdemeanor beefs having nothing to do anyone getting shot, they might have backed off a bit on the level of force; perhaps even just left a couple cops to wait around and pick him up next time he went to work or to the supermarket. But, no. I mean, look, he’s a Suspect Individual, and what’s the point of having such a fine, well-armed paramilitary assault force, if you’re not going to use it?

So instead they surrounded the house, bellowed into their bullhorns, and then, when he didn’t come out on command, they decided to make a hyperviolent forced-entry raid in order to roust him out. So they hurled a couple of their non-lethal incendiary grenades into the house, which exploded, and set the house on fire. Rogelio Serrato, who was — remember — known not to be the man they were after; who was — remember — never suspected of anything other than having a couple misdemeanor warrants out — was killed in the house fire.

So, Monterey County sheriff’s office, here is what I have found in my probe, which I will helpfully share with you. What went wrong here is that the cops believed they were on an operation that required an extraordinarily violent storm-trooper raid, even though they already knew that their original reason for being there turned out to be a complete mistake, and even though they also already knew that the man whose family they were attacking was wanted only on a pair of misdemeanor warrants. In the interests of better protecting their own hides during this needlessly violent high-stakes operation, they felt free to make use of dangerous incendiary grenades which are perfectly capable of setting a building on fire. No matter how many people or buildings are set on fire due to the use of these grenades, police consistently blame the victim (e.g., in another case: It’s unfortunate that those guys packed that house with materials that were flammable[ref name=”source2″]

!! Apparently a right-thinking, responsible citizen keeps their house on the assumption that at any moment police might be throwing incendiary grenades into their living room.

[/ref]), and just go right on asserting that these explosives are non-lethal force, and defend them as tools which provide the necessary means to the police’s completely unnecessary operations. They even have the gall to tell the press that these dangerous explosives are a life-saving tool, when explaining how they just killed a man by using them.

Do you feel safer now?

(Via Dr. Q @ CopBlock 2011-01-19.)

See also:

This was originally posted at CopBlock.org