Tag Archives: prohibitions

Nevada Cop Block Members Sue LVMPD for Chalk Arrests/Harassment

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

Chalk is Temporary; Murder is Forever

Lawsuit Filed Over Intimidation Arrests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full Review Journal article can be read here.

Further Reading

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

Still stands

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

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

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

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Update: Third “Justice for Danielle Willard” Protest Planned for Jan. 22nd

Justice ForDanielleWillard 150x150 Update: Third Justice for Danielle Willard Protest Planned for Jan. 22nd

Danielle Willard, who was murdered by Utah police in November 2012

For a third time since she was killed almost three months ago, friends, family, and concerned residents will be gathering outside the West Valley, Utah police station to demand answers.  This protest is scheduled for January 22nd, which would have been Danielle’s 22nd birthday. Instead it has become a grim reminder of death November 2nd 2012 at the hands of detectives working for the West Valley Police Department, which is located in the Salt Lake City area.

Details from the Facebook event invite:

Please join us on 1/22 at 3:00 pm as we gather together in honor of Danielle Willard and celebrate her birthday she would have been 22. West Valley Police shot and killed Danielle on Nov 2nd while she sat in her car unarmed and still have refused to give any sort of explanation as to why.

In spite of the two previous protests and considerable questions being raised about why a physically small, unarmed young woman was shot, police have been extremely secretive about any of the reasons or justifications behind the case. More information regarding the circumstances surrounding her death can be found in this previous post here on NVCopBlock.org: Why was Danielle Willard Murdered by Utah Police?

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Why was Danielle Willard Murdered by Utah Police?

Danielle Willard 300x219 Why was Danielle Willard Murdered by Utah Police?

Danielle Willard, a small, unarmed young woman, was shot and killed Nov. 2, 2012 by West Valley, Ut. police

A rally will be held Saturday, December 1st at the West Valley Police station, which is located within the Salt Lake City area (see end of post for a map), to demand justice for Danielle Willard. Also, a second protest and candlelight vigil be held at the same location Sunday, December 16th. Danielle’s death and the many unanswered questions surrounding it have left her family, friends, and supporters frustrated, saddened and angry.

In addition, the handling of it all by local police has made many people not just in Utah, but all across the country, question how and why such a small, unarmed woman barely out of her teens with no known history of violent behavior ended up becoming the latest in a growing list of “collateral damage” from the government’s disastrous War on Drugs.

Almost a month ago, on Nov. 2, 2012, Danielle Willard was shot and killed by undercover police working for the West Valley, Utah police department. Apparently, she was killed during an attempted drug bust, although even that is a bit speculative at this point because police have yet to confirm much of anything about what happened that day.

“The family of a 21-year-old woman killed in an officer-involved shooting yesterday await answers in her death. So far, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the shooting at this apartment complex.

We still don’t know why officers shot and killed Danielle Willard. Her family says, she wasn’t a violent person but drugs may have been her downfall.

Willard’s mother, who lives in Vancouver, Washington, is anxious for information to come out.

“Everything that keeps going through my mind is speculation,” said Melissa Kennedy. “Did she get back on drugs? Was she really clean? Was it the wrong place at the wrong time?”

Willard was shot Friday and killed by undercover officers in the parking lot of an apartment complex in West Valley. Police used white sheets to cover her body from public view. Authorities aren’t saying what led to the shooting.”

Danielle Willard1 300x225 Why was Danielle Willard Murdered by Utah Police?

Danielle Willard During “Brighter” Days

In fact, police have refused to even comment officially on such basic things as Danielle’s identity or even whether she is male or female. Purportedly, this silence is due to an ongoing investigation into the shooting and the events surrounding it. However, such rudimentary details have not only already been made public by Danielle’s family and friends, but are hardly something that would interfere with an investigation.

Those family and friends are understandably questioning that silence, especially since police normally have no problem releasing information that supports their officers’ version of events. Without any of that information, they are left to try and make sense of why police would need to kill Danielle, which is hard to reconcile with their own memories of her:

“Melissa Kennedy knows her daughter wasn’t perfect.

But she doesn’t understand what it is that her daughter did so wrong that prompted West Valley police to shoot and kill her…

‘…Danielle is a sweetheart. She’s got a big heart. She would give the clothes off her back for anybody. I used to get mad at her because she would use so much gas in our car because someone would want a ride home. She couldn’t tell them no,’ Kennedy said…

‘…She’s never been known to be a violent person. She’s 100 pounds soaking wet. She’s only 21 years old. She’s a tiny little thing. What could she possibly have done, other than having a gun, what could she have done to provoke them to shoot her?…I’ve never ever known her to keep a gun with her or anywhere around here,’ Kennedy said…

‘…Kayleen (Willard) said she admired her older sister.’I always wanted to be like her. She always inspired me, because she was always so happy. She always seemed to be the crowd pleaser. She always seemed to brighten up a room,’ Willard said. ‘She was an inspiration to me, she made me be the person I am today. She made me want to be a better person growing up. She will always be in my thoughts and my heart, and she’s in a better place right now and I’ll see her again some day.'”

In spite of the silent treatment from West Valley police, some details about that day have gotten out. As might be expected, those details don’t paint the undercover cops that killed Danielle in a very good light. Based on independent witnesses that have come forward and the limited admissions that detectives assigned to the case have made themselves several things have been established:

  • Danielle was not armed, nor were there any guns found within the vehicle where she was killed. (As confirmed by detectives)
  • Danielle was actually a passenger in her own vehicle and was attempting to seek cover by ducking down within the car at the time of the shooting.
  • It’s unlikely that Danielle was the target of the ill-fated drug bust. Whether she was in some way involved with drugs again or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time is unknown. However, even if she was that by itself would in no way justify her death.
  • An unidentified male, who fled the scene and was probably the one being targeted by the undercover cops, was driving the car. (Detectives Danielle’s mother spoke to actually denied that this person was present, which only raises more questions about why deadly force was necessary.)
  • According to the autopsy, Danielle was shot first in the cheek and then fatally in the top of her skull, which supports the witness accounts that she was ducking down at the time she was shot.
Danielle Willard Why was Danielle Willard Murdered by Utah Police?

Demand Justice for Danielle Willard

The every day abuses and unintended negative consequences of the War on Drugs, as well as the selective nature of that war, should be enough to cause outrage at the unnecessary death of yet another person whose only real “crime” was an act which by itself only harms the person committing that act. No matter what your stance on drug use and its effect on those who become addicted, it should be apparent that the harm caused by drug prohibitions far outweigh any positive effects of such policies.

The bottom line is Danielle Willard should never have been killed in the first place and those who care about her deserve answers for why she was murdered in spite of being unarmed and, by all accounts, not acting in any aggressive manner at all. Unfortunately, police are in no hurry to provide those answers.

There are several ways that you can help seek justice for Danielle:

If you are in or have the ability to travel to West Valley, Ut., join those who will be there at the rallies to support them as they demand that justice in person. Other options to contribute from a distance include donating funds to offset funeral costs and the costs of traveling from Washington, where her family lives, to Utah. This is the link to do that via an online fundraiser. Yet another option is to call the West Valley Police Department at (801) 963-3300 or  (801) 965-5155 and let them know that you want justice for Danielle.




View West Valley Police Department 3600 Constitution Blvd in a larger map

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