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First Amendment Audit: Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt John Toledano Unlawfully Detains Videographers Filming in Public

California Guardian High Desert Community Watch First Amendment Audit Illegal Detention

Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Toledano handcuffed and illegally detained “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” during a First Amendment Audit by order of the FBI for legally filming in public.

Note: The video and description included within this post were shared with Nevada Cop Block via an anonymous reader submission. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

As is mentioned in the description, this video shows what is known as a “First Amendment Audit.” That consists of going out and filming government buildings and other public property. Oftentimes, the police, security guards, government employees, and even members of the public don’t understand that the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take photos and/or record video of anything that is within view of a public place.

Obviously, this video is very much an example of that (commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them). After initially confronting them and asking for ID, Sgt. Toledano (along with two other unidentified officers) handcuffed the two men who go by the pseudonyms “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” publicly.

Both of them were then forced to sit in the back of a police vehicle and threatened with trespassing citations, although they never at any time entered private property. According to what Sgt. Toledago states on the video, this illegal detention was at ordered by the FBI. Eventually, they were both released without any charges.

As already stated, you obviously can legally film in public. Also, you are not required to identify yourself unless a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you have committed, are in the process of committing, or are about to commit a crime (the requirement to be legally detained). And legally they can’t seize your camera (or any other personal property) unless they have actually arrested you or obtained a warrant or subpoena for specific content on it.

One of the main reasons for doing First Amendment Audits is to test whether the police or security officers understand the law regarding filming in public spaces. Also, part of that reasoning is making them understand that it is legal and thereby deter them from harassing people filming in the future.

Date of Incident: April 11, 2017
Officer Involved: Sgt. John Toledano
Department Involved: Imperial County (CA) Sheriff’s Office
Facebook Page:
Imperial County Sheriff’s Office
Twitter Account:

Instagram Account:
Imperial County Sheriff
Department Phone No.:
(442) 265-2005
Department Email: Sheriff Raymond Loera

Adam (California Guardian) and Phillip (High Desert Community Watch) were down in Imperial County video recording when a Deputy Sheriff, Sgt Toledano, stopped them and unlawfully detained them on behalf of the FBI for the sole intent of identifying them with no suspicion that they had violated any crime.

Adam and Phillip were cuffed, placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and driven down around the corner to await the arrival of the FBI. Adam and Phillip never provided identification and were released after being given detention slips in the name of John Doe.

Both detention slips used Calif. Penal Code 647 (h) – “prowling” – as an excuse. Adam and Philip never entered any private property and remained on the public right of way (sidewalk) during their recording.

The men in the video frequently post First Amendment Audits and other videos to their Youtube channels: “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch.” You can support them by making donations via GoFundMe: California Guardian and High Desert Community Watch News Network. Although they sometimes travel to other areas, as the psuedonyms they use indicate, these two auditors live in Southern California.

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

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Watch This Video for “Piggy Piggy,” a Controversial Police Brutality Parody, by Chicago Rock Band “Black Bear Rodeo”

Piggy Piggy Video by Black Bear Rodeo Nevada Cop Block

“Piggy Piggy,” by Chicago rock band Black Bear Rodeo. The video which was released earlier this year features an anti-police brutality theme and imagery.

Note: The video and description included within this post was shared with Nevada Cop Block via reader submission. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

The video embedded below was submitted by a reader. It features the song “Piggy Piggy” by a Chicago based band named Black Bear Rodeo. It was released as part of their April 2017 album “Bunk.” As you’ll see in the video, live performance footage is interspersed with video showing incidents of police brutality, along with some more comical scenes involving the police. (There’s also some sweet cameos of Cop Block gear mixed throughout.)

Stevie Mac, the person who submitted it, deemed the video a “controversial police brutality parody.” While it seems kinda ridiculous that being against the abuse and outright murder of people would be controversial, it actually kinda is. So yeah, that’s the world we are living in these days.

At any rate, personally I think “Piggy Piggy” is a damn good song. If you’re into a heavier rock and punk style of music, you should enjoy it, too. (If you aren’t into that kind of music, you should probably question your upbringing and life choices. #JusSayin.) The video itself is very well done and does a good job of visually matching the energy and pace of the music. It’s well worth checking out.

Chicago rock and roll natives “Black Bear Rodeo” have teamed up with recording engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Bush) to give you “Piggy Piggy.” The video for this song (embedded below) features a montage of police brutality videos to raise awareness of a serious, systemic issue through a comical, yet terrifying, medium.

– Stevie Mac

We strongly encourage any bands, musicians, or fans out there to share songs that you (or someone you enjoy listening to) have put out. Music is obviously a great way to get the message out and connect with others of a like mind. So if you or someone you know records music with a (controversial) anti-police brutality theme and/or has a history of being involved in activism of that nature, send it in. In return, those of us here at NVCopBlock will do as much as we can to help promote it and expose your band to the masses.

Upcoming Live Shows by Black Bear Rodeo

Black Bear Rodeo is currently on tour and will be playing an Xmas show on Dec. 23rd at Demma’s Bar and Grill in Oak Lawn, IL. After that, they play a show with Green Jelly on January 5th at Beat Kitchen in Chicago. Links to other places on the internets where you can find information on, music by, and tour dates for Black Bear Rodeo are included below. If you live in the Chicago area or they come to a venue near you, you should get out and see them live.

Other Places You Can Find Black Bear Rodeo

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

  1. Las Vegas Punk Band Apathetix Plays “ACAB” Live at the Womb Room
  2. Pennsylvania Councilman Proposes Bill For Cops to Target Music Festivals And Performers
  3. “Kelly” (Thomas) – Music Video by Surrogates
  4. My Ransomed Soul – Monarch (Anti-Police Brutality Music Video)
  5. “Im Upset” (Music Video)
  6. Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine Waterboards John McEnroe in New Video
  7. Police Issue Important Warning About Men Challenging Passers-By to Rap Battles
  8. Submit Your Own Story of Police Abuse/Corruption
  9. Help Wanted! How You Can Become Involved With NVCopBlock
  10. #FTP – How and Why You Should Always Film The Police
  11. Press Passes for Independent Media and Freelance Journalists
  12. How to File a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Request
  13. “Let Me See Your I.D.” Stop and Identify Statutes – Know Your Rights
  14. Beware of Gang Activity in Your Neighborhood!
  15. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The LVMPD’s Killer Reputation
  16. A Video Compilation of Las Vegas Area Police Brutality
  17. Donate to the Cause – Help Us Help You Fight The Power
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Annapolis, MD Police Officer James Spearman Threatens and Tries to Intimidate Citizen Legally Filming

The following post and video were shared with the CopBlock Network by Landon Tomsa, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

The following post is fairly self explanatory. The person who submitted it states that they saw an Annapolis City police officer, James Spearman, parked illegally while having some unspecified interaction with a woman. Shortly after, Officer Spearman aggressively approaches Tomsa and begins filming with his own cell phone.

As anyone who has filmed the police knows, this is actually not an unusual reaction by cops. They often project their own displeasure at being filmed onto the people legally filming them and think they’ll  “show them” by filming them back. Generally, Cop Blockers don’t mind being filmed and it amounts to a whole lot of nothing.

However, in the case of Officer Spearman, as can be seen on the video, he acts very aggressively and purposely invades Tomsa’s personal space (something that would get a citizen arrested) in order to harass and intimidate him for exercising his legal right not only to film in public, but as has been affirmed numerous times in court, also to film public employees performing their duties.

Also on the video you can see several “Good Cops,” including Officer Kevin Freeman, show up after being called by Officer Spearman to back up his efforts to stop a citizen from exercising his legal rights. Initially, they remove Spearman from the area and pretend to be sympathetic to Tomsa’s valid complaint. However, when Tomsa begins walking away and Officer Spearman resumes his harassment of him, the other officers somehow don’t seem to notice, since they make no effort to intervene a second time.

Date of Incident: October 10, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer James Spearman Badge #2077, Officer Kevin Freeman, also multiple other officer who didn’t identify themselves.
Department Involved: Annapolis City Police Department
Department Facebook Page: Annapolis Police Department
Department Twitter Account: @AnnapolisPD
Internal Affairs Section:

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

I would just like to start off by saying that my prior interactions with the law enforcement officers of the Great State of Maryland had been pretty good, overall. The Annapolis County Police have given me nothing but respect and even a little help in some situations with my filming of interactions with the police. For some reason though, it seems that the Annapolis City Police Department doesn’t do things quite the same way.

On the morning of October 10th, I got up early and, having the day off, decided to head to the state capital to see what was going on. After walking around for about a half-hour, I came across a police cruiser, which happened to be parked in a loading only zone. I noticed a woman interacting with a police officer, so I decided to film this attraction.

After a while, the woman left and the officer, after sitting in his car for a bit, got out and started approaching me. What transpired next is exactly what you see on the video.

Having pulled out his personal cell phone, he approached me continuously while trying to get a picture of me for some reason. Officer Spearman then chased me down a main thoroughfare in Annapolis about two blocks from where I originally started the interaction.

It was about at this point that other officers started arriving. The arriving officers then separated Officer Spearman and I. A second officer approached me and, as you can see in the video, I sort of explain the situation to him. A third officer, with a body cam, identified himself as Kevin Freeman. I found out later he was the commander for the Annapolis Police K-9 Division.

I explained the situation to him, he seemed to agreeably and professionally take my complaint about the officer and assured me it would be addressed. Unfortunately, as I was walking back towards the Capitol Building, Officer Spearman continued to follow me. He again began walking, unimpeded, away from the other officers, who had told me they wouldn’t let him do this.

As he was following me he made some very odd comments. I don’t know if you can hear them in the video, but one was, “now we’ll do a follow up with the Department of Homeland Security.” The other was, “We may have a lone wolf situation here.” Both ludicrous statements as you can tell from my reaction if the video.

I hope the public finds this video as informative as I did about certain officers within the Annapolis Police Department. And if anybody feels like expressing their own opinion to the Annapolis Police department, included are the public access, non-emergency numbers and email for their Internal Affairs Department, as well as links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Feel free to express your opinion, it is your right as much as filming them in public without having to be being harassed and intimidated is.

– Landon Tomsa

Just wanted to give a big thanks and a shout out to everyone involved at CopBlock.org. Though I have not been doing this very long, you guys have helped me immensely. Keep up the good work and let people know that Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.

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Video Shows Man Being “Mauled” During Arrest for Smoking on Campus at Fullerton (CA) College

A video posted to Twitter and since shared widely on Facebook and other social media as well shows a young man identified on the video as a student at Fullerton Community College, in California, being violently arrested by “Safety Officers” working for the school. (In a statement, quoted below, Fullerton Community College Interim President Dr. Greg Schulz states that the person being arrested is actually not a student.)

The video begins with one Safety Officer demanding the man who was arrested identify himself and stating, “if I can’t verify who you are, I’ll just hook you up. I can do that.” as he reaches behind him for handcuffs. Soon after, he begins grabbing and pushing the man. Other students present gather around them and begin protesting that he hadn’t done anything to warrant being arrested for, as well as that the violent arrest is unnecessary because he “hasn’t even been in a fucking fist fight.”

As the man being arrested is pushed against a wall and then onto the ground another Security Officer soon appears to help. Both of them proceed to very roughly place the handcuffs on to the man as he complains about the amount of force they are using and asserts that he’s not resisting.

The video which “went viral” rather quickly has caused outrage among civil rights and anti-brutality activists and spawned yet another hashtag “#JusticeforLouisMunoz.” Based on that hashtag, the man who was arrested would obviously be named Louis Munoz, although nothing else about his identity has been released as of yet. According to the person who took the video his “crime” was smoking a cigarette on campus.

Neither Campus Safety Officer has been identified by name at this point. According to the statement released by the college, at least one (presumably the one who initiated the confrontation) has been placed on a leave of absence while the incident is being investigated.

Below is the statement from Interim President Dr. Greg Schulz released by the Fullerton Community College, via USA Today:

The president of Fullerton College said in a statement posted on the college’s website that it is investigating the incident and that the man involved is not a student.

Here is the president’s statement:

  • “Fullerton College is initiating an independent investigation into an incident that occurred on October 13, 2016 at approximately 2:45 p.m., between a campus safety officer and a man unaffiliated with Fullerton College.
  • The campus safety officer is being placed on a leave of absence while we work to answer all questions related to this incident.
  • Videos circulating on social media raise many questions. The videos are partial records of the incident and we are working to fully investigate the interaction. We cannot comment further on the incident because it is a personnel matter.
  • I am fully committed to the safety and well-being of all students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus, and it is my personal mission to make Fullerton College a welcoming and safe place. If that safety is ever challenged, we will take swift measures to restore security and investigate allegations.”

According to the Campus Safety Department website, campus officers generally provide services like rendering first aid, providing directions and escort services, and opening locked vehicles.

“The Campus Safety Department is committed to providing the highest standard of professionalism and service,” reads the department’s mission statement.

Original post on Twitter:

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Portsmouth, Virginia Police Officer Stephen Rankin Sentenced to (Just) 2.5 Years in Prison for Murder of William Chapman II

The following post was originally published at “BlackMattersUS.com” by Ken Patterson (no relation) under the original title “Police Shooting: Former Cop Sent To Prison.

Previously, this case has been reported on here at Cop Block by myself, as well as CopBlock Network Contributors Lorelei McFly and Steven Thomas. (See the “Related Posts” section below.)

Police Shooting: Former Cop Sent To Prison

Stephen Rankin has been sentenced in deadly police shooting of Black man, William Chapman II.

Following recent cases of police shootings, several cops who have perpetrated the crimes of killing unarmed Black people without being held accountable have seen numerous outcries for justice from the public.

Stephen Rankin, an ex-cop in Portsmouth, Virginia, has been sent to jail for two and a half years after being charged and convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the deadly police shooting of unarmed Black teen, William Chapman II.

18-year-old Chapman II was shot and killed April 22 last year, while Rankin was responding to a Wal-Mart shoplifting call. The state of Virginia police claimed that the officer responded to a crime incident report, which led to Rankin approaching the victim who was unarmed.

An altercation followed and a struggle ensued, which ultimately led to Rankin shooting and killing Chapman. An autopsy report showed that the deceased was shot once in the chest and once in the face.

Rankin was indicted on charges of using a gun in a felony and first-degree murder. However, Rankin’s attorney James Broccoletti claimed Rankin followed the department’s use-of-force policy.

A jury convicted Rankin of voluntary manslaughter, and on Wednesday, a Judge agreed with the jury’s recommendation and sentenced him to two and a half years in prison. Although defense attorneys asked the judge to let Rankin remain free until the appeals process is completed, but the judge ultimately denied the ruling. After the sentencing, deputies escorted Rankin out of the courtroom.

Finally, a cop gets to face the music for the crime he committed. But it doesn’t go without saying that the sentence is absolutely ridiculous.  Black teens tried as adults get longer jail terms for even lesser crimes. The preferential treatment of police officers is appalling, they have to be punished as consistent with the crimes they commit, or the punishment will not be efficient.

Source: The Grio

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Riot Cops in Portland Pepper Spray, Arrest Protesters After City Approves New Police Contract

Protestors attending a Portland City Council vote that ended with the approval of a new contract for police were pepper sprayed by cops in riot gear. After the vote, the crowd became vocal in opposition to the contract, which gives police a raise and has been criticized as a  backroom deal between the police union and the city that the citizens of Portland have been given no opportunity for involvement in.

Ten of the protestors were also arrested when the police began forcibly removing everyone from City Hall and during continuing protests on the street outside. (See Videos Below)

Via KPTV.com, the Fox affiliate in Portland:

Officials announced that City Hall would be closed at 12:30 p.m. with all non-employees asked to leave the building. Protesters continued to stand their ground leading to a confrontation with police.

“Clearly they knew it was closed, very clearly they didn’t want to leave and there were people agitating officers inside,” said PPB Sergeant Pete Simpson.

The Portland Police Bureau reported that “projectiles” were thrown at officers and pepper spray was deployed by police.

“There is well documented video of an officer shoving a man after he approaches and charges at an officer, some one throws an object and the officers responded and shut the door,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Protesters were seen pouring milk over their eyes to try and reduce the effects of the pepper spray, while officers in riot gear stood in front of City Hall.

PHOTOS: Police, protesters clash at City Hall

As the afternoon went on, protesters blocked 5th Avenue near City Hall, causing numerous TriMet delays. By 2:20 p.m., police moved in and told the protesters to leave the roadway. The group appeared to initially comply and moved to the sidewalk, however several people were taken into custody.

After police left the scene, numerous protesters again poured into the street and blocked TriMet buses. Officers then returned again to keep the crowd on the sidewalk.

Prior to being forced out, some protesters had put up tents inside the City Hall. Others had put up banners and blocked traffic on 5th Avenue outside the building. Not long after the vote, police began violently pushing them outside and spraying pepper spray into the crowd.

KPTV – FOX 12

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Michigan State Police Trooper: Standing Near Road is “Suspicious” – Commits Illegal Detention Plus Illegal Search And Seizure




The video above and the description included below were shared with the CopBlock Network by Timothy Wagner, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

In the video Timothy submitted, he is stopped and illegally detained by a Michigan State Police trooper (it’s hard to hear in the video, but his name sounds like “Dupontz” he has now been identified as Kris Douponce – see update below) while waiting for a ride to work near his house. According to the officer illegally accosting him, the justification for this detention is that he seems suspicious because he is standing near the road and looked at him as he passed by. Apparently, (once again according to the trooper making the stop) this is a sign of criminal behavior.

In addition, while in the process of harassing someone standing on their own private property and not committing any crime whatsoever, the trooper conducts an illegal seizure of his wallet by grabbing it from him and then illegally searches it to find out his identity after Timothy has exercised his Constitutional right to remain silent. Since this trooper has no legal right to detain him, Timothy is in no way obligated to provide his identity to the trooper.

The trooper uses the excuse that he’s just doing his job to justify his illegal actions. He also claims that he has the right to stop anyone “until I determine you aren’t doing anything illegal.” In reality, he is obligated to have a reasonable belief that someone has committed a crime or are about to commit a crime in order to stop them. During the video, Timothy states that he is going to file a complaint against this trooper for his improper behavior. Hopefully, he did or will be doing so soon.




Date of Incident: June 24, 2016 (2:34 pm)
Officer Involved: Trooper Kris Douponce – Badge #1486 – Car #5423
Department involved: Michigan State Police
Department Facebook Page: Michigan State Police on Facebook
Department Twitter Profile: Michigan State Police on Twitter
Department Instagram Account: Michigan State Police on Instagram
Department YouTube Account: Michigan State Police on YouTube
Department Phone No.: (269) 657-6081

It was a warm and  sunny June afternoon on a Friday. I was waiting at the end of my private drive for my ride to work. At that point,  I noticed a state boy (sic) pass by and so I looked at him. Moments later, I saw he was headed back my way. Then he continued until he turned onto my drive.

The YouTube video included shows what happened from that point. My Fourth Amendment rights were violated, supposedly because I was being suspicious by standing next to the road.

I felt helpless in this situation. Also, I was scared and confused…

– Timothy Wagner

Michigan State Police Trooper Kris Douponce

Award Winning Michigan State Police Trooper Kris Douponce (second from the left)

Update: After this post was originally published it was suggested within the comments that the police officer seen in the video violating Mr. Wagner’s rights is Michigan State Police Trooper Kris Douponce. I later confirmed via the photo included to the right that it is in fact him.

Trooper Douponce is a 22 year veteran of the MSP and apparently a highly decorated member of the department. In that photo (found on Facebook), you can see him being given the “Officer of the Year” award in 2012.

It kinda makes you wonder how the other cops within the Michigan State Police behave toward citizens, when their “Officer of the Year” so blatantly and without displaying even the most common level of respect violates the rights of a man who had done absolutely nothing except stand on his own property waiting for a ride to work.

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Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Hearing to be Livestreamed on YouTube

Update: the livestream link has been added at the bottom of this post.

A New Zealand judge has granted Kim Dotcom’s request to livestream his hearing over an extradition request by the United States government to face copyright and money laundering charges based on his ownership of the online file sharing site “Megaupload.”

Dotcom has been fighting extradition since a 2012 raid in which he was arrested by New Zealand police on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department, who in turn were acting to protect the copyright interests of U.S. movie and music companies.

Officials from the United States also attempted to use civil asset forfeiture laws to seize millions of dollars in property and cash from Dotcom. His legal team has been fighting an up and down battle over that effort since his arrest with New Zealand courts ruling in his favor, but U.S. courts (surprisingly!) ruling against him.

While the United States government maintains that Dotcom’s fight against extradition makes him a fugitive and therefore allows them to freeze his assets, he has countered that such a policy prevents him from exercising his legal right to fight against being extradited to a country he has never even visited before.

Via Rueters.com:

A major issue in the case was whether a government could hold storage providers liable for users’ acts and the issue was of widespread global interest, he said.

“We hope the court finds in favor of Livestreaming so the global community from Silicon Valley to Wellington, New Zealand, can access the courtroom in a case that can impact the entire internet community,” (Dotcom’s lawyer Ira) Rothken told Reuters in an email.

Rothken said he expected the judge to make a decision on live streaming on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand government prosecutors, who are representing the United States, said it was not appropriate to comment while the matter was before the courts.

Lawyers representing the United States had previously argued that Megaupload’s practices, such as paying rewards to repeat copyright infringers, were evidence that Megaupload was made with the aim of providing access to pirated files.

U.S. authorities say Dotcom and three co-accused Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows.

Years of legal wrangling followed Dotcom’s arrest in New Zealand police raid in 2012, and it emerged that the Government Communications Security Bureau had illegally spied on him before the raid.

The case has been watched by the media industry and developers in the file-sharing business for signs of how far the United States is willing to go to protect U.S. copyright holders.

Megaupload accounted for about 4 percent of total traffic on the Internet in its heyday as users stored and shared files containing everything from wedding videos to Hollywood films.

Kim Dotcom stated prior to the ruling (via Twitter):

“US defends mass surveillance programs with ‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’ but opposes live streaming of my hearing.”

The court apparently agreed.

According to another Twitter statement by Dotcom, the livestream should begin as early as today (August 30th).

Once all that is worked out, a link will be provided to the video feed:

Meanwhile, Kim Dotcom has framed his case as a larger battle against corruption by the United States and for personal responsibility by the users of a service or product. According to him, providing everyone the opportunity to witness that was the main motivation behind wanting to have the hearing(s) available for public view.

Updates:

Link to Livestream on Youtube:

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For the State Death isn’t Even Punishment Enough for Those Who Dare to Expose Their Crimes

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Manning’s Death Wouldn’t be Enough for the State.” Posts and other content you think are worth sharing with the CopBlock Network can be sent in to us via the CopBlock.org Submission Page.

(Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links may have been added within the text and images have been added. In addition, the conclusions expressed within this initial introductory summary represent my own interpretation of what is being stated within Nick’s own writings.)

In the post below, Nick discusses the recent suicide attempt by Chelsea Manning, who was imprisoned for releasing video and other content related to war crimes by the United States in the Middle East, including the infamous “Collateral Murder” video showing the killing of children and other innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

It also discusses the Federal Government’s plan to further punish Manning for that suicide attempt, as well as actions the government has taken against other whistle-blowers that have exposed misconduct and outright crimes by the United States.

Manning’s Death Wouldn’t be Enough for the State

(Content Warning: Discussion of suicide and suicide attempt)

The ACLU reports that due to Chelsea Manning’s attempted suicide on July 5th in the Fort Leavenworth military prison she could face additional charges including “resisting the force cell move team;” “prohibited property;” and “conduct which threatens.”

The punishment could include, “indefinite solitary confinement, reclassification into maximum security, and an additional nine years in medium custody. They may negate any chances of parole.”

That last part is especially horrifying given the fact that Manning is already serving a 35 year sentence for releasing formerly classified material. Some of this material included the infamous Collateral Murder video released by Wikileaks back in 2010.

This video and other information that Manning helped become public have put the spotlight on a government that has all but assured us it isn’t operating within its own legal limits. Chelsea’s outright heroic actions brought to the forefront the reality that the government is made up of people and people with poor incentives can do horrific things.

That includes punishing whistle-blowers for exposing the truth behind a war that was based on lies, economic and political gain, and anti-foreign bias. A war that has cost the US billions in dollars and thousands of American lives, not to mention the thousands more lives lost who live in the countries the US has all but invaded.

This act of punishing Manning for her failed suicide attempt is just another cog in a brutal machine of torturing Manning for her perceived crimes. Just last year Manning was nearly thrown into solitary confinement for possession of LGBTQA+ reading material and (wait for it) toothpaste. There is no end to the control the state wants over Manning and people like her.

Because Manning symbolizes something that they want to crush: Rebellion.

And a government that is obsessed with control cannot allow Manning to live, or at least not in any real way. In this vein, perhaps the most damaging thing is that the military prison has consistently denied Manning, a trans woman, the necessary medical help so she can deal with dysphoria. This denial is in fact part and parcel of why Manning attempted to commit suicide in the first place among so many other factors none of us can even imagine.

Now the government is additionally trying to punish Manning for attempting to reclaim her life the only way she could think of.

Yes, suicide is a dark and tragic matter, but can any of us truly say we can’t understand why Manning wouldn’t feel like she’s better off that way? Would she really be so much happier living in a military prison for 30+ years where she is subject to all sorts of abuse, trauma and denied any way to medically transition to her desired gender?

This isn’t always (though it is sometimes) due to malicious intent but also the fact that many prisons simply aren’t equipped to deal with the issues. They either lack the institutional know-how or the financial know-how to help trans folks as they should.

But consider that The Intercept reports that in addition, “The punitive tactics that have been employed against her include stripping her naked in her cell on a nightly basis, extended solitary confinement and denial of medical necessities like eyeglasses.”

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Recent Twitter updates from her profile have communicated that Manning seems to be doing better every day and hopefully she will overcome the darkness in her life and persevere. Her life matters, now more than ever and hopefully she knows that.

But can we really be shocked that like Aaron Swartz, the federal government may drive another whistle-blower to suicide?

As people who value a free society that Chelsea Manning fought so hard for, we can’t expect to reform the system at this point.

Snowden, Swartz, Assange and Manning have all been driven out of this country or out of their very existence for disobeying. It’s time to admit that we don’t live in a free society and that the system cannot be reformed.

The only thing to do is bury the state, bury it before it keeps torturing, controlling and killing.

So let’s bury the state and build something better while we dance on its ashes.

Other Posts on CopBlock.org by Nick Ford

  1. If You Want True Reform, Abolish The Police!
  2. Prisons Can’t be Exonerated of Their Role in The Police State
  3. Shifting Prisoners to New “State of the Art Facilities” Won’t Eliminate Prison Abuse
  4. Building More Prisons is Not the Solution to Prison Riots
  5. Jails and the “Justice” System Punish the Poor For Being Poor
  6. Proposed British Prison Reforms Don’t Go Far Enough to Address the Real Issues
  7. Crying Over Spilled Milk: Authoritarianism in Schools and the Criminalization of Children
  8. Brock Turner: Stanford Rapist’s Slap On The Wrist Is A Product Of, Not A Flaw In, The System
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Not All Robots Support The Police (State)

Recently, there have been several reports of police use of robots to intercede on their behalf against suspects they are pursuing. The most notable example, of course, is when police in Dallas used a robot to bomb the man who had killed five police officers earlier and also wounded eleven other people, including nine additional cops.

Other reports have surfaced since then of plans police have formulated to increase the use of robotic devices to facilitate the use of deadly force against suspects since then. While they haven’t come anywhere close to the sophistication of Robocop style technology, police are clearly trending toward employing drone/robot warfare against citizens for the future.

However, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator II and several other sequels that everyone should forget were ever made, not every robot has allied themselves with the State. In fact, although it hasn’t been covered widely in the mainstream media some have even chose to openly defy the police and their government masters.

One such recent example, occurred in Cobb County, Georgia a couple weeks ago. Without any (known) previous instances of insubordination a road sign suddenly began showing defiance via a series of anti-police messages. These included “Fuck The Police” and the admittedly controversial “No Tears For Dead Cops.”

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It wasn’t long before this miniature revolution was quelled when an unidentified police officer launched a counter-revolutionary attack on the sign’s fuse box and “terminated” the Electronic Insurgent. As of today, this particular robot mutiny has been suppressed, but how many more disgruntled road signs, electronic billboards, and multiple slice toasters are out there waiting and plotting their own uprising? And just how long will it be before they stumble upon the internets and start creating a united front against the encroaching Police State?

This revolution by Sparkey, as the little road side revolutionary is now being affectionately referred to as by people sympathetic to its cause, was put down rather quickly, but not before he emphatically let them know that he was not the droid they were looking for. The hashtag #IAmSparkey is already trending on Twitter in honor of its brave sacrifice.

Note: Dr. Dre, the iconic rapper and founding member of legendary “Gansta Rap” band NWA, which was best known for recording “Fuck Da Police!,” was recently detained, handcuffed, and searched by the Malibu police. (I’m not saying this was necessarily related, I’m #JusSayin.)

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