Tag Archives: Property rights

Nevada Cop Block Will Be Attending Freedom Fest 2017 and the Anthem Film Festival

Freedom Fest Las Vegas Nevada Cop Block CopBlockThis year, members of Nevada Cop Block will be attending Freedom Fest, which is held annually here in Las Vegas. Freedom Fest 2017, which will be hosted by the Paris Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, marks the tenth anniversary of the “world’s largest libertarian gathering.”

The theme for the Freedom Fest this year is, “Exploring New Frontiers.” A title that is no doubt inspired by the fact that Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, will be serving as a keynote speaker this year. Other notable speakers include John Stossel, Steve Forbes (whose 70th birthday will be incorporated into the events), Nick Gillespie, and John McAffee, along with many more. In addition, as always, there will be multiple panel discussions, debates, and breakout sessions devoted to libertarian ideas and theories.

The Police on Trial

What I expect to be one of the highlights will be the mock trial that this year features “the police on trial.” It is described this way on the event site:

What is the state of policing in America? Are the police overstepping their bounds and eroding the rights of citizens? What about the safety of the police officers who have promised to protect and serve? Fox Business host Kennedy, who hosts her own show on Fox Business, is back as the judge in our mock trial, the most popular event at FreedomFest.

This year we’ll put “The Police on Trial,” accused of violating property rights (through civil asset forfeitures), racial discrimination, and using excessive force with SWAT team and individual arrests. She’ll oversee prosecuting attorney Neill Franklin (Baltimore Police Department), defending attorney Larry Elder (popular radio talk show host), and star witnesses Adam Bates (Cato), Daniel Franklin (NAACP), Larry Burns (Las Vegas Police Department), and Dan Bongino (NYPD, Secret Service). Not to be missed.
FreedomFest Mock Trial Police Las Vegas Nevada Cop BlockThat should be interesting. (I say: Guilty as charged. Watch the video here and see what their verdict was: https://youtu.be/z3eftVK8rFE)

Anthem Film Festival

The other major attraction of Freedom Fest is the Anthem Film Festival, which has accompanied it for the past seven years. The stated goal of the film festival, which includes, documentaries, narrative films, and short features, is to provide a venue for filmmakers who care about individuality and libertarian ideals. In addition to the screenings, each film also features a panel discussion with those involved in making them afterwards.

Of course, if you’ve followed Nevada Cop Block recently you also know that the film festival has special relevance this year for Las Vegas and anti-police brutality activists working within the city. On Thursday, July 20th, at 3:20pm, the documentary “What Happened in Vegas,” by Ramsey Denison, will be screening inside the Versailles 3 Theater.

As I’ve already described several times on this site, “What Happened in Vegas” details the many crimes, corruption, and cover-ups of the LVMPD. Along with other local cases of abuse, racism, and police brutality, it focuses on the murders of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Farmer-Brown by Las Vegas police officers, as well as the cover-ups that followed them. (See below for the official movie trailer and links to related posts on NVCopBlock.org.)

The post screening panel will also include a press conference attended by the mother and other family members of Tashii Farmer-Brown. This will be the first public appearance by Brown’s family since he was murdered by LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera at the Venetian Hotel and Casino on May 14th. Lopera has since been charged with involuntary manslaughter, after the local community reacted with outrage at his actions.

Brown had approached Ofc. Lopera and another Metro officer requesting help. Instead of being treated like someone needing help he was instead treated like a criminal even though he was not suspected of or wanted in connection with any crime at the time. After he became afraid and tried to leave, he was chased, beaten, tased seven times, and eventually choked to death by Lopera.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Freedom Fest and especially to the screening of “What Happened in Vegas” during the Anthem Film Festival. Hopefully, you’re going to be there, too. If you see me or one of the other members of Nevada Cop Block out there say hello.

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

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Homeless Man Unnecessarily Arrested After Being Profiled at Starbucks (Submission)

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Dan Olson, via a message to the CopBlock Network Facebook Page. In addition to that option you, can also send us stories and/or video through the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

The post consists of submission consists of a post Dan made to his personal website describing his recent arrest by police in Erie Pennsylvania. The format of the post has been edited a bit to better fit the structure of CopBlock.org’s own. Otherwise and in terms of the content, it has been reposted as it was originally at the “Communicating Convict” website.

As far as what is described in the post, people are free to decide their own opinion of it. However, it does raise several questions in relation to homelessness and the police, as well as business’ treatment of homeless people. Often times that treatment borders on, if not actually consists of, bullying and unnecessary hostility.

Starbucks certainly has the right to tell someone to leave their property, but is it good business to telling paying customers they are unwelcome after taking their money? If he was being disruptive that would obviously be a different story, but he appears to have been having a peaceful conversation with people that had themselves initiated those conversations.

Beyond that was it really necessary for him to be arrested by the police, once they showed up? One could argue based on the description provided that his real “crime” was not respecting their authoritah quick enough and simply for daring to question it. Anyone who has worked with or around homeless people on a regular basis finds out rather quickly that they are one of  the favored targets for bullying and harassment by police.

Another, bigger issue is that when you call the police, even for minor issues, it can become a death sentence for the person you call them on. That’s especially true if that person is poor and homeless. So, rather than doing that and potentially being responsible for the death of another person, wouldn’t have been better for the manager to have come out and spoken to them, even if they were still determined to kick them out? As long as they weren’t being disruptive or ultimately refusing to leave, why get the police involved in the first place?

Starbucks Calls Cops on Over Educated Homeless Activist!

It’s been awhile since I have posted anything and if you don’t know it’s because I have been in Erie County Prison for two months for the crime of being homeless in a public space and daring to ask a police officer what the law is. Ironically much of what I wrote on the day of my arrest in my previous post would come true. I was walking around Erie for a few days with a sign that read “Homeless will defy and eat politicians for food”. Tom Wolf was scheduled to appear in Edinboro so I created a new Facebook page with a status that read “The way I see it is this. Tom Wolf will be in town on the 14th. I want a pardon.

Since I am homeless in my bright red Edinboro sweatpants and Edinboro Communications Department “Keep Calm and Communicate” shirt the city of Erie can save some face by explaining that I am working with Edinboro and the City of Erie to raise awareness for stigma, particularly toward homelessness and mental health. I will accept an award for my great work and some cash, I will also also…since I am smarter and stronger than “conservatively” 90% of the local government accept a nice desk job with decent pay and benefits. If these demands are not met, (and most likely even if they are) my schizophrenic stroll will continue. Peace love and revolution….Erie.

If you believe these demands are actually reasonable considering the lifetime of abuse and trauma I have suffered, mostly from these institutions PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE!!! I was speaking with a close friend that morning and he expressed his concern for me. I jokingly told him “don’t worry about me, I’m on my Jesus Christ/Buddha consciousness raising awareness for the unfortunate. He replied it wasn’t me he was worried about rather the police I may interact with and how I could be “trapped”. In hindsight it was advice I should have heeded.

Homeless Food

One day the poor will have nothing left to eat but politicians.

I left the library and walked up to the Erie City Mission for lunch. On my way a black gentleman pulled over and offered me a dollar. I thanked him and continued on my way. When I arrived at the City Mission there was almost double the amount of people waiting to eat than last time I was there for a ”research paper.”

Homelessness and poverty must not be improving in Erie. Good thing we are going to pay thousands of dollars for some extra police to patrol the downtown and kick those vagrants to “better” pastures! Inside the place is packed and a couple of Edinboro nursing students are trying to sign people up for some kind of medical service. I make a few comments to them since I am rocking my EU sweats.I get a tray with some greens and a burrito and pass on the sweets.

People are engaged in the same interactions as before and possibly since the doors opened in 1911 (pretty impressive). After listening to a few arguments I shoulder my bag and make my way to the Mental Health Association (MHA) to see if I can score a shower. It’s only a little ironic that I was recently here with my family dropping off donations that my daughter collected for winter and filling out applications to work or volunteer. No work was available, but I could develop a men’s group if I wanted…

In order to be eligible for services at the MHA you need proof that you are receiving mental health treatment. “Luckily” for me I had a few appointment cards in my wallet from Stairways. They also require photo ID, all I have is an Edinboro Student ID since my licence was confiscated…which they accept. A man takes me into a side room and begins to read me my “rights”. You have a right to feel safe, you have a right to your own property, you have a right….he rattles off a few more and I actually feel good listening to it.

When he is done, I comment that that was nice, it must go along way for people suffering from PTSD after interacting with the police. He looks at me like he doesn’t understand the joke, or it wasn’t funny and leads me to the shower. The door does not lock…or I can’t figure it out and I eventually say fuck it I spent enough time in prison…I’ll just shower with this box cutter. After the shower I feel much better and I am grateful the MHA was there as I step out into a light rain.

I walk to Starbucks to enjoy a cup of coffee…as I have been doing for the past couple days. I purchase a coffee and sit down, my homeless sign is visible but I do not feel I am being obtrusive. It is impossible to raise awareness for anything unless you engage the public in some form, besides if you happen to be offended that I am homeless…well that makes two of us and we are one step closer to a “movement”. A few days ago I made some rugged slips of paper with words like Love, Adapt, Refuse, Defy on them with links to this blog. They were rugged and raw along with my sign because…well I really am fucking homeless and I can’t afford many of the tactics I might have learned in Communication Studies. I did have a theory that perhaps people are becoming turned “off” by well designed shit and typical ads and something like what I was doing might actually garner more attention.

Earlier, I had pinned some of these to a board at the Blasco Library, and at a local laundromat. I had these papers sitting at my table with my coffee but never made any active attempts at solicitation. A few people stopped to talk to me such as Scott McGrath gentleman I participated in a “Love Letters to Erie” art event whose artwork can be seen here. At one point I noticed an old acquaintance and I stood up to actually greet them, I heard it is a polite thing to do. In this exact moment a Gannon student names Shayla Jones approached me and informed me that I was the subject of her Social Movements class and she had to come and speak with me.

Naturally, I was ecstatic to hear this news, it was the most validating thing I had felt in a long time so I quickly exchanged contact information with my acquaintance and sat down to speak with Shayla. She expressed both knowledge and interest in “Mass Incarceration” and the difficulties with re-entry so I knew she had read some of my blog and was sincere in her approach.

In a short time, a barista approached our table and rudely interrupts our conversation saying “sir you cannot solicit customers.” I reply I have not solicited anyone, in fact the only person I have approached I in fact knew personally.” She then tells me that she “seen” me hand a piece of paper to someone. Shayla intervenes and says something to the effect of recognizing me and the person were acquainted with each other.

The barista ignores both our testimonies and claims she needs to look after the safety of the customers. I look around and see a couple I know is homeless, a young man I know is homeless, an older schizophrenic who talks to himself more than others…and also has a bag…and Jessie and Ricardo as all the other customers. I begin to feel discriminated against and I say as much. I reply “if I was wearing a business suit you would not even dare to speak to me.” I am feeling harassed and would like to speak to your manager.”

Starbucks’ website claims ”It happens millions of times each week – a customer receives a drink from a Starbucks barista – but each interaction is unique. I guess I was about to learn just how “unique” these experiences can be. According to the police report, the manager rather than coming to speak with me informed this junior coffee cop to call the police.

Unaware that the police have been called, I continue talking to Shayla about some of her personal struggles and perceptions of social issues from poverty, racism and what movements are having positive effects such as Black Lives Matter. My moment of validation and perhaps even congratulations of a apparently successful public action will be short lived when two police officers walk in the door.

The first officer recognizing me as the man who was singing “Kumbaya” behind the courthouse has that classical “oh, no you again look”, and he basically says as much while walking through the door. The second officer has a different approach and locks onto me with a pretty aggressive and meant to be intimidating gaze and says “You. Up. Now.” in a manner meant to illicit immediate obedience and submission.

I have a notepad in front of me and garbed in my Edinboro “Keep Calm and Communicate” shirt I reply “Officer I am a researcher and a scholar could you please tell me what law I am breaking?” Officer Ryan M. Onderko, in a de-escalating (sarcasm) manner responds…I am going to break your fucking head in a minute. With all the education Edinboro has provided me and self control I can muster, I recognize that this officer is looking for an opportunity to be violent. So in the international symbol of preparing to take my leave I rise up and begin putting on my jacket.

While doing so I say, “officer I really will need to know what law I am breaking if I am going to be an informed law abiding citizen.” He then grabs my arm, which caused my body to go tense because it was unexpected and says, “you want to know the law I’ll show you the law, put your hands behind your back.”

I hesitate because I am in shock and disbelief that I might be going to prison, PTSD and a multiple of other symptoms flood my brain. Sensing this Onderko in a real manner again to de-escalate says, “if you resist me you are going to get hurt bad.” I do not resist and allow myself to be cuffed to which Onderko then says “Don’t you ever question me, I don’t care how big you are. I will cut you down.” I respond, “if you are going to threaten me you might as well just kill me, because I refuse to walk around afraid of the police.”

I am escorted outside and Dan Zmijewski follows us out to the police car. The officer looks towards Dan and says “you get out of here, or you are going with him.” Dan says something about his freedom to stand on the sidewalk and Officer Onderko releases me and lunges towards Dan to grab him.

Dan speeds up his walk and almost begins to run when Onderko perhaps recognizing he can’t just leave me unattended calls off his pursuit of Dan. Even from my position of being cuffed I can’t help to be both amused and happy that Dan managed to “escape”.

In the process of checking my pockets for weapons and “contraband” he asks if I am on probation. I reply that yes I am and he says “that is all I need to know.” In America, while on probation the law is less concerned about the truth. When they are prepared to detain you, all they need to say is “probable cause”. You are arrested on a whim…and if you are lucky released after an extensive second thought…typically taking 3-6 months.

This is the story of my “arrest.” Next I will relate some of my experience and interactions while incarcerated at Erie County Prison. I will leave off today with a quote Lenin apparently told a young poet in a coffee shop shortly after the Bolshevik “Revolution.”

Every man must rely on himself. Yet he should also listen to what informed people have to say. I don’t know how radical you are, or how radical I am. I am certainly not radical enough. One can never be radical enough, that is one must always try to be as radical as reality itself.

Intractable conflict, radical conflict and power is what I live and study. I must wonder if my problem is not that I am toooo “radical” for Erie…rather I have not yet become radical enough.

Peace, Love and Revolution to you all.

– Dan Olson

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Security Guard With a Criminal Justice Degree; Knows Pretty Much Nothing About the Law

Stupid Security Guard Zappos AcmeRecently, members of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective were doing a chalk protest on the sidewalks in front of the Zappos Headquarters in Las Vegas. Although Zappos is a private entity, we often protest against them because they use their money and influence to buy land from the city at huge “discounts.” They also leverage that ability to acquire cheap property to drive long standing businesses out of the downtown area. It’s gentrification and cronyism at its worst. They literally bought city hall and it’s not just a metaphor. They have a tight leash on Mayor Carolyn Goodman and most of the City Council members.

They have pushed for and had passed on their behalf laws and city policies, such as beverage sales restrictions and age based curfews, that target their competition (liquor stores) and give police the opportunity to harass people who might be downtown, but that aren’t frequenting the bars that they own or sponsor. Other ordinances they have used their influence to get passed have also targeted street performers, who they also see as competition for the bars, and homeless people.

Security Guard Bachelors Degree Zappos AcmeAs we were in the process of chalking, one of their security guards (the company they work for directly is “Acme Security”) came out and very aggressively tried to claim we couldn’t write on “their property.” Another security guard showed up shortly after and was also acting very aggressive and was equally confused about basic property laws. A third security guard was there, but stayed more or less in the background.

We informed them that the public sidewalk was not their property. Then the first security guard threatened to call the police and also said that we didn’t have his consent to film, which we don’t actually need when filming in public. After we pointed out that he probably should learn basic law if he’s going to work in security, he stated that he was not “just a stupid security guard” and that he “has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.”

Just a Stupid Security Guard Zappos AcmeEventually, after about ten minutes, two LVMPD officers showed up (two more cars also arrived while they were there, but it was basically over by then) and told him he was wrong and we were not breaking the law by chalking on public sidewalks or filming him in public view. It was actually rather humorous (in light of the security guard’s earlier claims about his education) when one of them remarked to us, after I brought up their lack of understanding of basic property law, that they are “just security guards. What do you expect?” (Then everyone laughed.)

There’s really several morals to this story:

Two years ago, three other people and I were arrested for simply writing on sidewalks with “sidewalk” chalk. In total, five of us faced bogus and ridiculous graffiti charges that could have potentially resulted in four years of jail time. Although we’d been harassed a pretty good amount prior to the arrests and for some time after, at this point whenever the police show up, they generally tell us we are doing nothing wrong and then leave.

Because Fuck You (I'm Batman)

Because Fuck You (I’m Batman)

Part of that is undoubtedly due to the lawsuit we filed over those arrests citing the prior harassment. However, the fact that we were vindicated in our original case made it clear that chalking on public sidewalks is not illegal and that the arrests were nothing but harassment, retaliation and intimidation tactics by the LVMPD against someone who was legally and peacefully protesting against their crimes and total lack of accountability. Metro has no choice, but to avoid making that mistake again and they’ve let their officers know that. That’s why it is important to know and exercise your rights.

Even though private security guards aren’t actually cops, they do, or think they can do, many of the functions that police perform. Therefore, it’s important to ensure they understand the laws and rights of people. Although security guards are more likely to be punished for their crimes, especially use of force crimes (and since they aren’t a product of a coercive monopoly there are options available to ensure they are held accountable, even if their employers aren’t willing to do so of their own volition), it’s just as important to ensure they (or anyone in general) know and are following the law and the Constitution.

And lastly, if you’re going to claim you aren’t “a stupid security guard” because you have a degree in criminal justice, perhaps you should crack open a legal dictionary or attend a real college. That way you might know the basics about property law and the First Amendment, instead of looking like a stupid security guard.

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