Tag Archives: trials

Nevada Cop Block Members Sue LVMPD for Chalk Arrests/Harassment

Chalk is Temporary, Murder is Forever

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

Still stands

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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Call Flood Request for Brian Sumner Arrested for Filming Cops *Update*

Update: Charges Dismissed Against Brian Sumner

Brian Sumner’s Case was Dismissed. (Thanks to a Little Help from Some Freinds.)

Brian Sumner has reported via the FaceBook event page that his charges were dropped He also stated:

“Its all thanks to you. I wish everyone of you could have seen the DAs face. My lawyer told me that she wasn’t sure if the DA was going to inner (sic) the agreement. I’m going to take that as it was a very successful phone bomb. You all have my heart, and our voices will be heard.”

Thanks to everyone that managed to call. Remember, call floods have been very effective at putting pressure on police departments and courts to release people being charged with bogus crimes based on retaliation or intimidation motives. Always call if you can.

 

 


Brian Sumner wrote the article included below regarding how “obstruction” charges are often used to punish and attempt to discourage people involved in Copwatch or Cop Block related activities. This is done much the same way that “resisting arrest” is often used to prosecute people who have been arrested, even when the actual excuse for arresting them is thrown out or dismissed, as a way of intimidating them.

Brian is a local activist and copwatcher from the Fresno area. Within a relatively short time he’s made quite a few videos and been involved in several major actions in and around Fresno seeking police accountability as part of the Fresno Liberty Movement. As a result, he has become a target for retaliation by local police and other government employees. In one such instance (not the one in the video included below), he was charged with obstruction simply for filming the arrest of another person from a distance. He will be starting trial for this “crime” today, Sept. 10th 2014, and has asked (via a FaceBook event) that people call the DA to show their support and ask that they drop those bogus charges:

“Brian Sumner was arrested for obstruction of justice while filming a routine traffic stop in Clovis, Ca. Please call the DA’s office as many times as humanly possible and ask them to drop the charges. Brian will begin his first day of trial at 1:30 pm 9/10/14. Vanessa Wong is the DA prosecuting the case against Brian. The phone number to her office is (559) 600-3141. Any and all support will be greatly appreciated. #NoVictimNoCrime #PhotographyIsNotACrime #CopBlock #CopWatch #Solidarity”

“Obstructing” is “Resisting” for Cop Watchers

We have all seen a youtube video where a cop demands ID, or for someone to go with them, and when they refuse the cop threatens them with resisting arrest. Even though no crime was committed beforehand…  If you have not seen one of these videos click the link below.


Threatened with resisting arrest.


 

I FILM COPS!

I have been filming the police for around a year and a half now, and it has slowly just become apart of who I am. I was just out of the military, and dealing with the poor taste it left in my mouth. I had been Listening to the Adam VS the Man podcast, reading The Free Thought Project, and watching everything CopBlock.org was putting out. I had joined the military to serve, and well lets just say my service was more of a disservice.

The visible wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan these “Wars on Terror” were being flaunted along with 9/11 as major reasons to draft such legislation as the Patriot Act, or NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) to create such organizations as the NSA, and the TSA. While the US military eroded rights, and lowered the living conditions in the middle east, the US government was  systematically removing rights, and lowering the standard of freedom in the USA.

I was drawn to activism and civil disobedience because it was an in your face act of rebellion, and when you do something like block a freeway, chalk up a police station, or take over the streets with a group of people, and the authorities just have to let you do it due the critical mass its very liberating to one’s soul. You make connections, and form bonds with each other much like in the military.

One thing I have noticed is cops don’t take kindly to an unknown person walking up and sticking a camera in their face. Luckily for me, I could care less what a cop wants. Too many times there is no objective record, and cops take advantage of people, or worse hurt them. The supreme court ruled that it is the job of police to enforce the laws, not protect people. With that in mind does it make a little more sense why there are so many victimless crimes?

Police often tell me that my presence is an obstruction of their investigation, they usually try to defend it with “I’m cool with you filming, just from over there, Officer safety, and all” or something along those lines. In reality what the cop is trying to do is place you in a position where you are less likely to capture what he is doing, and/or saying. I have been threatened with arrest for this crime known as “Obstruction of Justice”  on many different occasions. I recently made the connection between resisting arrest, and Obstruction of Justice.

If I am not harming anyone, and I am filming from a distance that I deem is reasonable for both mine, and the officers safety, and if I am not engaging the officer in any unwanted dialogue how can I be obstructing justice, or interfering with his investigation? Is he claiming that my presence with a camera is somehow hindering him from doing his job? Or is he afraid of what the camera will see? Regardless the situation remains where unquestioned obedience to an authority figure, possibly a complete stranger, can and will land  you in cage, even worse you can end up with a criminal record.

The same can be said with resisting arrest. As we saw in the video link above the man was eating a meal at a fast food restaurant. When the man did not want to leave his meal, and go with the officer he was threatened with arrest for resisting arrest. How can your only crime be not wanting to have an interaction with a complete stranger? Does it make sense that you can literally be arrested for refusing to go somewhere with someone who claims authority over you?

Police now can detain and arrest you for not wanting to talk to them. At the same time police can detain and arrest the people who would film these arrest’s in order create an objective record, if they do not follow the orders of a the police officer. I will now share a personal experience from 2 nights ago with the Clovis, Ca police department.


Clovis police officer, and local hero Jesus Santillon, threatened me with arrest for filming him while he detained, and later arrested a homeless man with a bicycle.


This video also may serve as an objective comparison of the behavior of  cops while in certain uniforms. The officer with the tactical vest, and the military haircut was the one to make contact with me, and cry about “officer safety” in an attempt to get me to alter my position.  While the police officer in his regular uniform was very patient, and kept to the matters at hand.

Notice also that even the nice cop was telling me what to do. Officer Santillan was telling me to move, the other person involved Officer Shermanti was telling me that no one threatened me, and the supervisor was telling me to keep my opinions to myself, and to do whatever complete strangers with guns tell me to. In retrospect thats actually not that bad of advice… If a complete stranger came up to me with a gun and told me what to do. I would probably do it. Unless it was a cop. Then I would probably film it.

I hope you also noticed that none of the cops really listened to me, they all just made excuses for each other, and talked at me in a manner that made me feel more like a subject to them. In other news, Officer Jesus Santillan was awarded a hero medal for 80 DUI arrests, and singlehandedly making up 21% of the DUI arrest for Clovis PD.

Hero Cop Jesus Santillan

 “A Clovis police officer was given a California Hero Award on Saturday at the 16th annual Statewide Law Enforcement and Community Recognition Event in Sacramento, said Janet Stoll-Lee, spokeswoman for the Clovis Police Department.

Stoll-Lee said Officer Jesus Santillan arrested 80 drunken drivers during the graveyard shift in 2013, which accounted for 21% of the department’s total DUI arrests. Santillan worked on DUI checkpoints, AVOID task forces and saturation patrols in Clovis.

The event, which is sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, recognizes law enforcement officers and community leaders throughout California for their efforts to stop drunken driving.”

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National Jury Rights Day in Las Vegas – Sept. 5th

Sept. 5th is Jury Rights Day

Sept. 5th is Jury Rights Day

A History of Jury Rights Day

People across the country will be celebrating Jury Rights Day September 5th. On this day in 1670, Quaker William Penn of London was arrested for the “crime” of preaching his personal religious beliefs. Penn pled not guilty and subsequently argued against England’s Conventicle Acts, which outlawed the practice of religions other than the Church of England.

At the conclusion of the trial, the judge instructed the jurors to find Penn guilty. However, the jurors’ refusal to enforce a bad law led to the court jailing them for contempt and withholding food and water from the jurors. This became known as “Bushel’s Case” because of Edward Bushel, the jury foreman’s refusal to pay the fines, which had been charged to the jurors.

Afterwards, some of the jurors appealed their fines and imprisonment.  A higher court confirmed the right of the jurors to base their verdict on their best judgment and conscience.  Even though there was a law against freedom of religion, the high court held that juries could not be required to enforce any law they thought was wrong.

Jurors can judge guilt based on both facts and the validity of the law itself.

Jurors can judge guilt based on both facts and the validity of the law itself.

This higher court ruling created the precedent that jurors cannot be punished for their verdict.  It also set a foundation for our rights of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly.

This ruling confirmed important protections for the jury, and firmly established the right of the jurors to refuse to accept bad government laws. This method of rejecting bad laws is called jury nullification or jury veto.  Through jury nullification, people can control their government by refusing to allow immoral laws to be enforced.

Resulting common law concepts firmly uphold the fact that Jurors cannot be punished for rendering or refusing to render a certain verdict. Nor are jurors are required to give any reason for the verdict that they render or justify it in any way. The fundamental right of Jurors to render their verdict based on conscience is basic to the preservation of Justice, in a free society.

William Penn later came to Colonial America and founded Pennsylvania.  Jurors continue to have the authority to nullify bad laws.  This authority is our peaceful protection to stop corrupt government servants from violating our rights.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the history of Jury Rights Day.

More information about jury nullification and jury rights in general can be found at the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA.org)

Schedule of Events in Las Vegas:

Friday ~
10:00 AM Pre-event flyering/outreach
10:30 AM Press Conference
11:00 AM Presentation about Jury Rights

Monday –
8:00 – 11:00 AM We will be handing out information about jurors rights and jury nullification to people going into the court.

Las Vegas will be holding several events that weekend.

Las Vegas will be holding several events that weekend.

Jury Rights Day Events in Las Vegas

The right to trial by jury is not as well respected as it should be or as our founding documents require. In clear violation of the plain text of our founding documents, several criminal defendants, perhaps even a majority of defendants, in Nevada are illegally denied their right to trial by jury. And, in those cases where juries are impaneled, the courts systematically confuse and mislead jurors as to the nature of their service on a jury. A jury trial is a check and balance on unaccountable entrenched government. It began as a check on royal power. It is still needed as a check on the power of the state. A litany of groups and individuals will gather at the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas the weekend of September 5th in honor of Jury Rights Day.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Friday 10:00 a.m. , September 5th

A press conference will be held on the steps of the Regional Justice Center, 200 S Lewis. (View map to location) Representatives from several groups will speak on the importance of the right to trial by jury to them and their organization. Groups represented include, Nevada Cop Block, Southern Nevada Watchdogs, Patient to Patient, Compassion Nevada Consulting, Cindy Lake candidate for Clark County Commission, Jim Duensing candidate for Clark County District Attorney and the Fully Informed Jury Association, T. Matthew Phillips a Civil Rights Attorney.

Friday 10:30 a.m., September 5th

An educational presentation at the RJC will be made by Jim Duensing, local attorney and candidate for District Attorney in Clark County. The presentation, geared towards the several homeschooled children attending, will also be enlightening to adult members of the public and press alike. All are invited and encouraged to attend this presentation covering the history and and nature of the right to trial by jury.

Monday 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., September 8th

Volunteers will be distributing informational handouts provided by the Fully Informed Jury Association, www.FIJA.org at the Regional Justice Center. These handouts will educate and remind the public about the nature and importance of the right to trial by jury.

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Free Know Your Rights Seminar in Las Vegas Thurs. Aug. 28

Attorney Stephen "Bowtie" Stubbs, who hosts free Know Your Rights seminars in Las Vegas.

Attorney Stephen “Bowtie” Stubbs, who hosts free Know Your Rights seminars in Las Vegas.

This coming Thursday, August 28th (2014), at 7:00 PM; Las Vegas area attorney Stephen Stubbs will be giving a free “Know Your Rights” seminar. The seminar will take place at the Leatherneck Club of Las Vegas, which is located at 4360 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89102 (view map to location). If you are on Facebook, you can RSVP here at the event invite.

Among other things, this seminar covers people’s rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That includes the right to freedom of speech and the extent and limitations of that freedom. In addition, the First Amendment also provides for freedom of the press, which applies to citizens ability to film persons, including government officials and the police, while they are performing their duties in public.

While discussing the Second Amendment right to bear arms, Stubbs covers Nevada law relating to open carrying of firearms, as well as the limitations, licensing requirements, and process for such that the State of Nevada places on the concealed carrying of firearms. He also breaks down the different restrictions and prohibitions placed on non-firearm (knives, clubs, brass knuckles, etc.) weapons by state and local law.

Am I Being Detained or Am I Free to Go?

Am I Being Detained or Am I Free to Go?

Another significant part of the seminar involves what the police can and cannot do in relation to searches, seizure of property, and detention of people based on the Fourth Amendment.  That includes the requirement for reasonable suspicion to believe that someone is about to commit a crime, has committed a crime, or is in the process of committing a crime in order to justify detaining someone. It also includes the requirement for consent before police can conduct a warrant-less search, with a few very narrow exceptions, such as evidence in plain view and risk of eminent danger (one of several exigent circumstances). In addition, the differences between searches conducted upon someones person, a vehicle, or their home are explained.

Stephen Stubbs' Free Know Your Rights Seminar

Stephen Stubbs’ Free Know Your Rights Seminar

The Constitutional due process protections within the Fifth Amendment are also covered pretty extensively during the seminar. A person’s right against self-incrimination is explained. Stubbs goes over how (and why) people should invoke their right to remain silent when questioned and avoid answering questions without the benefit of legal counsel being present. (That second part actually has a bit of added significance, since Stephen Stubbs was actually arrested himself for refusing to leave the side of one of his clients, who had invoked his right to have legal counsel present during a traffic stop, back in November of 2013.)

In general, the seminar is very informative and worthwhile for anyone, since it’s not unusual for the average person to get stopped for, at the very least, a traffic violation and knowing your rights can’t hurt you. Beyond that, the seminar does focus largely on encounters with police and situations such as filming in public, interacting verbally with police, the legalities of whether cops can justifiably stop; search; and arrest someone, and what to do in those situations. Therefore, anyone involved in or wishing to become involved in Cop Block related activities should find this seminar very useful and well worth attending. It will also serve as a good opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals within the Las Vegas area.

If you do come (and you should) to this free seminar you will find Stephen Stubbs is a very knowledgeable and entertaining person, with a history of standing up for individuals’ rights, when they are abused by the police or other government employees. Personally, I’m very glad to have someone as well versed and approachable as him performing this valuable service for our community. BTW, did I mention that he does it for free?

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No “More Cops” for the LVMPD. They Aren’t Needed and They Aren’t Wanted.

Metro displaying just how shorthanded they are on Fremont Street. (Notice the massive, unruly crowd being held back behind them.)

Metro displaying just how shorthanded they are on Fremont Street. (Notice the massive, unruly crowd being held back behind them.)

This was received via submission after originally being posted at the website of the Sunset Activist Collective.

Once again, Sheriff Gillespie and County Commissioner Tom Collins are trying to push the “More Cops” sales tax down the throats of the people of Las Vegas to fill the self-inflicted gaps in Metro’s already bloated budget and hire even more cops to harass and abuse the members of that very community.

Yet another sales tax is wrong from a practical standpoint in a time when the Las Vegas economy consistently ranks at or near the bottom in every financial category and most local residents are already just barely hanging on. By nature, sales taxes are regressive. Unlike wealthy people that have the capability of stashing most of their income in the bank, poor people generally have to spend most, if not all, of their money on the basic necessities of life. It’s not a coincidence that crime rates have increased as the economy has tanked. People that have little or no other options resort to whatever they have to do to survive. Taking even more from people that are already struggling just to keep their head above water is not the way to “take a bite out of crime.” It’s an unarguable fact that poverty leads to even more crime.

Beyond the basic economics it’s wrong on an ethical level to expect poor residents to fund their own abuse at the hands of the LVMPD. People in poor and/or minority neighborhoods are routinely stopped, searched, abused, and humiliated by the police. In fact, Metro employs several “saturation units,” whose stated function is to descend upon certain neighborhoods en masse seeking any excuse they can to stop, interrogate, and arrest residents of that community. And those many, many abuses don’t end with harassment and wrongful arrests, either. The victims of police beatings and outright murder are predominantly members of the Poor People Shouldn't Have to Fund Their Own Abusepoor/ minority classes.

Not surprisingly, it has also been explicitly stated that these “select’ neighborhoods don’t include the ones in Summerlin. Many of the proponents of the “More Cops” tax increase are, in fact, residents of Summerlin and other wealthy neighborhoods, who have expressed the desire to have a cop in their neighborhood because it makes them feel safe. I have very little doubt that the residents of poor neighborhoods would have no qualms about letting them have some of the cops terrorizing their neighborhoods. They rarely make them feel safe, especially within the Las Vegas area, since there is absolutely no hope that any sort of accountability will ever be imposed upon the perpetrators of injustices against them.

Metro isn’t short on cops, they’re short on priorities. Anyone who has witnessed the massive East German style check point erected on Fremont St. every First Friday or the continual harassment of water vendors and buskers on the Strip, both of whom are just trying to earn a living during tough economic times, would have to question the claims of personnel shortages within the LVMPD. When you can afford to employ undercover cops to ensure tourists don’t have the chance to buy water at a cheaper price than the casinos sell it, then maybe you have a few people to spare for other things. Perhaps those plain clothes cops using official Metro vehicles to escort Zappos employees to their parking garage so they don’t have to look at poor people along the way, could be better utilized, as well.

Gillespie and the rest of his mafia dons have expended their budget on raises for an already overpaid police force, shiny new headquarters buildings that they insisted on pushing forward with in the middle of the worst recession in history, and million dollar settlements to the victims of their abuses and murders. Now they want the poorest people within this community to bail them out so that they can hire more cops even while absolutely refusing to do anything to hold them responsible for the crimes they continue to commit against their own neighbors and families.

Just say NO to more thugs!

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