Tag Archives: Las Vegas Nevada

Texas Prosecutor Appoints Committee of “Outsiders” to Review Sandra Bland Death

Texas District AttorneyOn Monday, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis held a press conference (see video below) to announce the appointment of a committee to review the suspicious circumstances behind the death of Sandra Bland. This committee will purportedly be comprised of “outside lawyers.” According to to Mathis’ press conference, this committee is expected to present its findings to a grand jury at some point during the month of August.

Via NBC News:

“There are many lingering questions regarding the death of Sandra Bland, and I’ve asked Mr. White and Mr. Jordan to assist me in asking those hard questions and making sure they are answered in a timely and appropriate manner as the evidence takes shape and is presented to my office,” he said.

Sandra Bland, of course, was a young woman who had a history of being outspoken about police brutality and racism by the police and who supposedly killed herself in jail after being arrested for a minor traffic offense. The fact that she was arrested at all, as well as the unnecessarily aggressive behavior of Trooper Brian Encinia during that arrest, have caused national controversy. In addition, the idea that she would kill herself over such a minor offense and after having expressed a desire to fight the charges within the days prior has been questioned.

On the face of it, an investigation by an outside group, rather than the typical “investigation” conducted by the co-workers of the cops that committed a questionable killing, would seem to be a step in the right direction. However, as has been pointed out on CopBlock.org previously, grand juries are typically used to cover up crimes by public officials, not to seek true justice.

Click Here (Spoiler, the grand jury was a sham.)

Click Here to read this previous post. (Spoiler, the grand jury was a sham.)

When citizens go before grand juries, the overwhelmingly common result is for an indictment to follow. On the other hand, the complete opposite is true when police are the subject of grand juries. Indictments of cops are almost unheard of. A big part of that is because the evidence, witnesses, and questions asked are controlled by the district attorney’s office, which is often friendly with and dependent on the cooperation of police to win their cases.

Another complication is the fact that grand juries are a secretive process, where witnesses, jurors, and everyone else involved can be criminally prosecuted if they divulge what went on during the case. As a result, any improprieties are covered up by default. Essentially, prosecutors can intentionally “throw the game” by putting on evidence that supports the police version of events and avoiding questions that don’t and nobody even knows what went on. So contesting those actions is both illegal and close to impossible.

The idea that a jury saw the evidence and decided not to indict the cop is cited as proof that the police were in the right. However, the jury only sees the evidence and hears from the witnesses that the D.A. wants them to. It’s an old story with a predictable ending.

Another question that has to be asked is just how much of an “outsider” the lawyers on this committee will be. Police review boards, even those presented as independent “civilian” boards, have typically been stacked with police supporters and used as a ploy to legitimize police findings rather than genuinely investigate their actions.

Here in Las Vegas, the “Use of Force” board was on paper comprised of one half civilians and the other half police officers. However, the reality was that those civilians primarily consisted of ex-police officers from other states or the family members of police. Once criticism was raised about that, people with a connection to police were banned from being used as civilians on the board.

Not long after that, a majority of the civilians serving on the reformed board resigned after their recommendation to fire a cop who confused a hat with a gun and shot a man was disregarded. Thus was exposed the other reality of “independent” review boards. Police departments typically ensure that, even if they don’t follow the script, they have no real teeth with which to take a bite out of police crimes.

Grand Jury Rubber Stamp

Justice or a Rubber Stamp?

It’s still early in the game with this particular “outside committee” in Texas, but there are already some questions about whether these outsiders are really going to just be hand-picked ringers. Lewis White and Darrell Jordan, the lead attorneys on the committee, are both former prosecutors. That includes a year with the Waller County (where Sandra Bland was arrested) District Attorney’s Office for White and over eleven years as an assistant district attorney for Jordan.

Darrell Jordan also has a background of seeking political office, which isn’t necessarily incriminating, but often necessitates courting the support and endorsements of police departments and the unions that represent officers within those departments. If he has future aspirations for elected office he might not want to cross them. There’s also an interesting and maybe very telling skeleton in his closet.

Back in 2007, Jordan’s law firm was sued over a “pump and dump” investment scheme, where stocks for shell companies are artificially inflated and then sold abruptly, creating huge profits for those in on the scheme but rendering the vast majority of investors’ stocks worthless. During the run-up to the lawsuit going to trial (a settlement was eventually reached), one of the lawyers in Jordan’s firm was caught attempting to destroy evidence that was subject to discovery requirements, but that heavily incriminated their firm.

Jordan, who was the managing partner of the firm at the time, served as the executive committee liaison during an investigation into that incident. In spite of the documents in question being retrieved from a garbage can outside of Dallas and the existence of photos of them being dumped there, that executive committee failed to find any proof of wrongdoing. Later Jordan himself drew comparisons to Sgt. Schultz from “Hogan’s Heroes” for his claims of not knowing anything about the incident involving the documents being taken to the outskirts of the city and thrown in a secluded dumpster during a deposition for the case.

Forgive me if I’m a bit uninspired by the prospects of these “outsiders” conducting a proper investigation and doing anything except rubber-stamping the official story down there in Texas at the moment.

banner-storeIf you liked this article check out “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: the LVMPD’s Killer Reputation.

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Update on 2015 National “Chalk the Police State” Day Locations

Tears Whiny Authoritarianism vs ChalkThe Third Annual Chalk the Police State Day events are all set to go tomorrow, Saturday July 18th. Hopefully, you’ve already seen Ademo’s recent post with advice and tips and are already all set to go for tomorrow. Because of the ease and impromptu nature of chalk protests it’s not too late to get involved in your own town, though.

In fact, even Cop Unblock got in on the chalking fun a few days ago. So here is a current list of all the cities that will be participating. If there is already a group chalking in your city, you should join them. If there isn’t you should round up some friends that care about police accountability and get out there.

Note: this year Chalk the Police State Day will be dedicated to Brian Sumner, an awesome CopBlocker from Fresno, who is actually on trial right now on bogus vandalism charges stemming from a chalk protest he did last year. Since chalk doesn’t do any actual damage and it has been ruled several times, including by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over Fresno), that chalk messages are protected free speech under the First Amendment and that something that simply requires a little cleaning up isn’t considered property damage, what Brian is really being charged with is hurting the delicate feelings of the police.

Of course, it looks bad for them if they right that on a police report. So they have to make stuff up and waste the courts’ time and your money on ridiculous charges. (If you are in the Fresno area, the courthouse where this nonsense is being held would be a good location for a Fresno Chalk the police State Day event.#JusSayin)

Current List of Cities Participating

Chalk Police State NationalThe National Facebook Event Page has been set up through the CopBlock Network Facebook page to organize and coordinate events across the country. If you want to find out information in general about chalk the Police State Day events, this would be a good place to ask. Also, if you have your own Facebook Event page for a local event and it’s not already listed here, you should share it there so others in your area can find out where and when they can join up with you.

Chalk Police State Las VegasLas Vegas, NV.Chalk the Police State Day in Las Vegas will be held at the Regional Injustice Center at 2oo Lewis Ave. It begins at 6pm

Chalk Police State IndianapolisIndianapolis, IN.Chalk the Police State 2015 in Indianapolis will be held at the Indianapolis City Market, which is located at 222 E. Market St. It begins at noon.

Chalk Police State ClevelandCleveland OH.Chalk the Police State Day in Cleveland will be held at the Justice Center, which is located at 100 powers Blvd. It Begins at noon.

Chalk Police State MinneapolisMinneapolis, MN.Chalk the Police State Minneapolis will be held at the Minneapolis Federal Building, which is located at 212 3rd Ave. S. It begins at 3pm.

Chalk Police State ChicagoChicago, IL.National Chalk the Police Day in Chicago will be held at the James R. Thompson Center, which is located at 100 W. Randolph St. It begins at noon.

Chalk Police State Lehigh ValleyBethlehem, PA. – The time and place for Chalk the Police Day Lehigh Valley are not being released publicly. You can contact Lehigh Valley Cop Block via their Facebook page for the details.

Chalk Police State SalemSalem, OR.Chalk the Police State Salem will begin at Noon. (See the Facebook event for location and other details).

Chalk Police State SeattleSeattle WA.Chalk the Police State Seattle will be held at the King County Courthouse, which is located at 516 Third Ave. It begins at noon.

Other Places: Although there are no Facebook events (that I’m aware of) set up for them, several additional places have indicated they will be participating in Chalk the Police State Day events. This includes Portland, OR., Baltimore, MD., Keene, NH., Hollywood, CA., and Victoria, BC. There’s even rumors that a group in Germany will be chalking tomorrow.

Click banner to learn more about filming the police

Click banner to learn more about filming the police

And Don’t Forget to Watch all these Videos:

Chalk the Police State Promo:

Brian Chalks the Police:

Manchester Chalking 8 Arrest:

Chalking the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department:

CopUnblock Even Gets in on the Action

PAST VIDEOS OF CHALK THE POLICE DAY:

LAS VEGAS, NV:

KEENE, NH:

QUARTZSITE, AZ:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN:

banner-flyers

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“Chalk the Police State” with the CopBlock Network on July 18th

Chalk The Police StateTime for the Third Annual “Chalk the Police State” Day is fast approaching on July 18th. Like previous years, Nevada Cop Block and the CopBlock Network would like to make this a national event with as many cities as possible making a statement about police brutality and accountability, as well as the continuing militarization and expansion of police forces and governments.

Originally, the call for Chalk the Police State Day was put out by members of Nevada Cop Block, dubbed the “Sunset 5” after we were arrested for legally and peacefully protesting (see below for more details). However, the use of chalk in Cop Block protests actually dates back to the “Manchester 8” arrests in 2011 and two subsequent annual “Chalk the Police Day” events. It was through participation in those that members of Nevada Cop Block  found out how useful and effective chalk protests could be. So, technically this could be called the fifth annual chalk protest by members of the CopBlock Network nationwide.

#BlueLiesMatter

#BlueLiesMatter

The number of people killed by police this year alone already stands at 590 (and counting rapidly), with the per day average death toll being three people. Of those nearly 600 people whose lives have ended at the hands of the police, some of them have gotten a lot of attention and inspired massive protests. But for every Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, John Crawford, Kelly Thomas, Walter Scott, and Tamir Rice, there are many others, such as Michael Nida, Stanley Gibson, Manuel Diaz, Danielle Willard, and Erik Scott, in your own communities that don’t get the same sort of national attention.

July 18th will be an opportunity for local groups to highlight police brutality on a national level. You can choose who to talk about with a national audience ready to listen via the CopBlock Network.

As a tool of protest, chalk has many advantages:

  • Chalk protests require very little preplanning: No routes have to be picked, no streets or traffic have to be blocked to accommodate that route, no signs have to be made or transported, and no leaders have to be picked to coordinate all of that. Basically, you just pick a location and hand out some chalk. People can decide for themselves (another advantage) what and how much they want to write. The most complicated part of the planning is making sure someone picks up enough chalk that day. In fact, chalk protests can be very spontaneous and unscheduled. Some members of NVCopBlock have been known to carry chalk on them just in case the need for an impromptu protest presents itself. No “conspiring” is necessary.
  • Chalk allows small groups to make a big impact: One of the biggest advantages to chalk protests is the ability it creates for a small determined group to maximize their impact. While we hope that lots of people show up everywhere, the truth is you don’t need 100 people with signs to get the message out. Instead, within a relatively short amount of time a small number of people can write out multiple messages each. Anybody walking past the location of the protest will see those messages, even if you don’t have 50 people to hold individual signs. In fact, the activity of drawing usually creates curiosity among people in the area and grabs their attention. Many of them want to come and see what all the commotion is about.
  • Forty Feet of InjusticeChalk allows for a lasting visual impact: One of the staples of chalk protests, especially amongst members of Nevada Cop Block have been taking photos of the messages chalked. As an extension of the artistic nature of the chalk itself, it creates powerful visual imagery that transcends the protest. Even if the chalk messages are quickly (and easily) cleaned up right afterwards, those images and their thousand words live on. Sharing those photos via the internets and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, etc., allows people throughout the country and even worldwide that didn’t actually attend the protest to see and pass along those messages. In fact, when those of us from Nevada Cop Block were arrested back in 2013, the Associated Press and other media outlets used my photos from previous protests in their stories. The LVMPD was soon faced with the rather unpleasant reality that the statements they were trying to suppress about how often they murdered people and how non-existent their accountability for those murders was were popping up in newspapers and websites all across the United States. That included the front page of the local papers.
  • Chalk is very easy: Most people drew on sidewalks as a child and, even if you didn’t, it’s not exactly hard to figure out how to write stuff. And oftentimes in the past there have even been children, who can give you some pointers, at Cop Block’s chalk protests.
  • Chalk is fun: Drawing with chalk allows people to be creative and express themselves in the process of protesting. You’re not just limited to walking around shouting slogans and holding signs.
  • Chalk is cheap: The cost of a chalk protest basically consists of a few boxes of chalk and not much else. Those can be easily and very inexpensively found in most department stores or art/toy stores. You probably spend more on dinner most days than you will on a chalk protest.
  • Chalk doesn’t cause damage: Most of the false claims regarding “damage” caused by chalk protests are based on the clean up costs involved once the protests are over and the police (or other target of the protest) no longer want to have their crimes highlighted on the public sidewalks for the world to see. However, the truth is that chalk is very easily cleaned up with nothing but water. In fact, the simple act of pouring water on the chalk usually is enough to remove it. Beyond that, it doesn’t even actually have to be cleaned up. It isn’t in anyone’s way, nor does it prevent anyone from going about their business in a usual manner if they want to. The only real reason somebody would want to remove it before the wind, rain, or even people just walking over it would do so naturally would be if they didn’t want to have a spotlight shined on their bad behaviour and lack of accountability.
  • Chalk is Free Speech: Several courts in various parts of the country have already ruled that sidewalks are considered public forums and that chalk in fact doesn’t cause any real damage. Therefore, writing out criticisms of police and other governmental officials is a legal and protected form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Chalk Arrests Las VegasJuly 18th marks the two year anniversary of when members of Nevada Cop Block called for the first Chalk the Police State Day amid the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s attempts to shut down legal, peaceful anti-police brutality protests involving chalk throughout the Las Vegas area. Those attempts at intimidation, harassment, and retaliation against people bringing attention to their crimes eventually led to the arrests of three people and charges against two others for the non-crimes of writing on the sidewalk with chalk and conspiring to do so.

Although the “graffiti” charges were dropped shortly after, amid a large and vocal public uproar locally, the intent to silence criticism was fairly obvious. In addition, that obviousness and the blatant overreach it represented actually resulted in more publicity for the lack of accountability and blatant murders by the LVMPD and other Las Vegas area police departments than the original protests ever had. Their inflation of (unnecessary) clean up costs to justify making arrests, rather than giving out citations, and the possibility of a four year sentence that some of those arrested potentially faced brought attention nationally.

Chalk Protest Las VegasSince that time, Nevada Cop Block has held countless chalk protests throughout Las Vegas and even other parts of the country. The effectiveness and ease of chalk protests have led to it being our primary choice for political actions. Also, although some people were too afraid to take part after the initial arrests and there have been many instances of harassment during subsequent protests, as of yet there have been no additional arrests associated with chalking. In fact, in some ways the media coverage it created has enabled us to get our message out even more effectively via interviews and the spread of chalk protests among other groups.

Last year, thirteen different groups from all over the country participated in Second Annual Chalk the Police State Day. With the spread of the CopBlock Network over the years into ever more cities and even internationally, it shouldn’t really be hard to get even more out onto the sidewalks this year. July 18th will be a day for everyone who is tired of police brutality and and the occupying armies that local police are rapidly turning into, regardless of where you are, to let them know that we won’t tolerate them any longer within our communities and against our friends and families.

Bring attention to those high profile national cases, highlight the abuses by your own local police departments, and put everyone responsible for them on notice that we are watching and the days of waiting are rapidly nearing an end. Bring so much attention to their crimes that they have no choice, but to create meaningful change.

The CopBlock Network Facebook event page for the National Chalk the Police State Day is located here:

If you haven’t already “liked” the CopBlock Network’s Facebook page, you should in order to get updates. Ideally, each individual city should set up their own event page (such as this Las Vegas invite) to coordinate locally. However, you should also invite everyone you believe would want to participate (and stop hanging out with people that won’t) to the national event, especially those from a different city than you, in order to get the word out to as many people as possible.

Find a CopBlock Group near you!

Find a CopBlock Group near you!

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