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The Antonio Buehler 60′ Bubble (#PeacefulStreets)

10:38 am in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

For more on this story see Antonio Buehler and the Peaceful Streets, and Antonio Buehler Arrested Again For Filming the Police.

Peaceful Streets’ Police-Transparency Activists Defiant After Second Arrest, Plan Thursday Night Mass Copwatch

Do police need a 60-foot bubble of safety from activists with cameras? That’s the claim Austin Police Department is making in the wake of the second arrest of a police transparency activist.

Antonio flashes a peace sign while exiting the Travis County Jail.

Flanked by allies, Antonio Buehler exits the Travis County Jail last Sunday after his second arrest (Photo: Sarah Dickerson @ChapeauDefee, used with permission)

Antonio Buehler’s first arrest came last New Years Eve, when this Iraq Veteran and Westpoint graduate was accused of spitting on a police officer while filming a traffic stop turned brutal. This arrest inspired the formation of Peaceful Streets, which gave out 100 digital cameras to community activists at a police transparency summit earlier this year. Saturday night on one of their regular downtown copwatch outings, Buehler was singled out of a group of four for arrest.

Now Austin Police Department claims they may institute a new policy requiring cameras to keep 50 feet or more away from police at all times according to KEYE TV, claiming that the presence of cameras agitated the arrestee:

“The individual became really agitated to the point the officer had to use more force,” [Commander Troy] Gay said.

Now APD wants a policy change. They say people should be allowed to exercise their first amendment right, but they need more distance to do their job.

“We would like them to be 50 or 60 feet,” Gay said.

Most mainstream media outlets are repeating APD’s claims that Buehler’s presence interfered with arrest. Buehler tells a very different story in Pixiq:

On Saturday night, police responded to an incident where a man had pushed his fiancée down to the ground. It turned out, the man had a warrant, which is why he was arrested. Buehler and other activists began recording the interaction.

“She walked up to us and I told her we were filming for her safety and she hugged me and walked over to her fiancée and told him,” Buehler said.

“He looks at me and gives me the thumbs up sign.”

But as two cops led the man away and Buehler and another activist began following, a third cop arrived and began ordering “Mr. Buehler” to back away.

“I was standing more than 25 feet away,” Buehler said.

While the cop kept ordering Buehler to back away, the handcuffed suspect began threatening Buehler by saying he is going to kick his ass.

The cop, who Buehler believes may be named “Berry,” then asks the suspect whether Buehler was harassing him. The suspect says yes, which is when the cop made the arrest.

The American Civil Liberties Union firmly believes You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop. I asked Dotty Griffith, Public Education Director of the ACLU of Texas how that applies to the Lone Star State in particular:

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Watercooler: Ademo

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Heard about the case of Adam “Ademo” Mueller of Copblock? He was charged with 3 counts federal wiretapping for reporting on a case of abuse by school police in New Hampshire as reported by RT and other sources:

The journalist behind a popular activism site is facing 21 years in prison for publishing conversations with law enforcement officials that he says were on-the-record while investigating a police brutality case in the state of New Hampshire.

By running CopBlock, Mueller has created an online outlet to release information about law enforcement officers that may not make it to the mainstream media. His attempt at showcasing what incident in particular he found a problem with his put the next two decades of his life in question, though.

Mueller was indicted following a report he filed in response to an incident at a Manchester, NH high school last year that ended with 17-year-old Frank W. Harrington being slammed face-first into a table and detained for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Video footage of a school police officer picking up Harrington and assaulting him were leaked to Mueller, who followed up on his own and attempted to interview a Manchester police captain, the Manchester High School West principal and a school secretary as part of his investigation into the incident. Mueller later used samples of those recorded phone interviews in a video report of the incident that he published to his website, and although he says he identified himself as a member of the media when approaching those officials for comment, he has been charged with felony wiretapping for allegedly putting those conversations on tape without expressed permission.

Reports on Twitter say that he was found guilty today and was sentenced to spend about 90 days in prison.

Living in the future: they watch us. We get in trouble for watching them. Upside: Ubiquitous availability of Big Mama Thornton videos.

What’s on your mind? This is our latest open thread.

VIDEO: Peaceful Streets Rally for Anaheim

11:11 am in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

The Peaceful Streets Project with help from members of Occupy Austin held a solidarity rally on Saturday for the people of Anaheim California.  This video, by Meg Seidel and Jeff Zavala of Zgraphix, intersperses footage of the rally with video from Anaheim and two Austin events: the February 2012 Fuck the Police march through downtown and a violent arrest of a shopper at Austin’s Barton Creek Square Mall who attempted to join a CODEPINK protest.

Antonio Buehler holds a sign: APD Kills

Antonio Buehler at the Peaceful Streets Anahem Solidarity Rally, Austin Police Department HQ (Photo: Meg Seidel / ZGraphix, used with permission).

All around the country, in over a half dozen cities, people have come out in support of the people of Anaheim. Though the mainstream media frequently continues to defend the police or report their side of the story, video shot on the scene by every day witnesses and a growing number of Occupy livestreamers and citizen journalists is spreading through social media channels and letting the world see the truth. Rather than calming the situation with open community dialog, the Anaheim Police Department (APD) is escalating through the use of militarized police in army-fatigue uniforms with heavier weaponry.

About a dozen of us gathered at the Austin Police Department (another APD) headquarters in downtown near highway IH-35. It was a hot day here in Austin, and we struggled to stay hydrated and active. The vast majority of people driving past on the frontage road were supportive, honking, waving and cheering; even several passing police officers honked or waved to us. There were a few hecklers, of course. In addition to the usual middle fingers and shouts of ‘get a job,’ one passing truck yelled ‘Fuck world peace!’ and ‘You’re poor!’ — insults which speak volumes about a classist mindset which is far too common today among people who are often themselves only a paycheck or two away from the streets.

Viewers of my livestream, which was carried here on Firedoglake, kept up a steady stream of conversation with me throughout the evening. Near the end of the protest we were so worn out that some of us could barely stand, but then one viewer, Rick Rynearson and his wife, of Veterans Against Police Abuse, ordered pizza for us! Pizza eaten after the hard work of protest always tastes especially good.

More: The Videos Anaheim PD Doesn’t Want You to SeeAntonio Buehler and the Peaceful Streets, Peaceful Streets Police Summit

LIVE (at 5:30PM CST): Peaceful Streets Rally for Anaheim

1:11 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

This evening I will be live from the Peaceful Streets Rally for Anaheim Solidarity.

On my ‘GonzoATX’ (KitOConnell) Ustream

The Peaceful Streets Project draws from a diverse Austin including Occupy Austin, which is formally in solidarity with the project.

The rally begins at 5:30pm CST and is starting at the Austin Police Headquarters.

More info: Anaheim Police BrutalityAntonio Buehler and the Peaceful Streets

 Peaceful Streets Police Summit

Peaceful Streets — Austin Police Accountability Summit (VIDEOS)

1:12 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

See also: Antonio Buehler and the Peaceful Streets. Links to additional summit videos can be found throughout this post.

On July 14, I attended the Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability summit. This all day free conference brought about 200 diverse members of the Austin, Texas community together to learn about police abuse and create new ways to fight it.

Though the summit had its genesis from the mistreatment and false accusations against Antonio Buehler after he filmed police on New Years Eve 2011, Buehler himself stayed in the background for much of the day, letting other key project leaders and volunteers be the center of attention. Even when telling his own story, he made it part of a larger panel on victims of police abuse, seen to the right. This let the larger problem — the lack of transparency — show through. For example, it is clear that ‘spitting on police’ has become one of the go-to false accusations when cops need to pin something on an uncooperative suspect or political enemy.

The host of the police abuse panel, Debbie Russell, is a longtime Austin activist who was arrested at the eviction of Occupy Austin. In another highlight of the day, she was joined on stage by Scott Crow, anarchist author of Black Flags and Windmills, for a discussion of alternatives to calling the police and how they’ve been put into place at the downtown cooperative Ecology Action. Even lunch time was thought provoking, giving attendees a chance to tour a vehicle which was customized with cameras, sophisticated recording equipment and even a smoke screen.

Of course, the central event of the day was the formation of a new cop watch group and the gift of 100 cameras to community activists dedicated to filming the police.

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LIVE: Austin Peaceful Streets Police Accountability Summit

7:00 am in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

Today, I am livestreaming from the Peaceful Streets Summit on Police Accountability. Created by Antonio Buehler, a victim of police corruption at New Years, the summit aims to create greater transparency in police behavior

More info: Peaceful Streets Project

Watercooler: Police

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Police abuse of power may have existed for as long as there have been police, but the topic has received renewed attention thanks in large part to the brutal crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement and other activist groups in the United States in the last year.

The topic is an inevitably controversial one; there’s little that can divide activist groups quicker than a discussion of police-interaction tactics. For every occupier chanting “shame!” during arrests there’s another trying to reach out to the officer’s humanity. I’ve heard about villages in other countries with tiny police forces that the people personally control, and I’ve experienced temporary communities where the people mediate rather than police. I have friends who want everything from reform to total abolition of the police system. When I reported as a citizen journalist from February’s ‘Fuck the Police’ march in Austin, a friend of mine unfollowed me on Twitter; I couldn’t blame her because she’s an EMT and she sees police trying to save lives on a daily basis.

I don’t know what the answers are, I just know that what we have now seems broken. What does policing or personal safety look like in an ideal world? Feel free to share your ideas, but please keep it civil. I’ll check in with this conversation a few times tonight.

This is tonight’s MyFDL open thread. What’s on your mind?

Antonio Buehler and Peaceful Streets

1:35 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

It’s been a busy year for Antonio Buehler.

When he agreed to be a designated driver for friends on New Year’s Eve, 2011, he had no idea how much that simple decision would shape 2012. As reported by RT.com (one of many media sources to pick up this story in recent weeks) Buehler, a 34-year old Iraq Veteran and West Point Graduate, had stopped to refuel at a 7-11, when:

he witnessed officers with the Austin Police Department attempt to detain a woman under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol at a fueling station. By the end of the evening, though, Buehler also found himself being apprehended by authorities.

“I saw a woman getting assaulted by the police. It looked like police abuse, and I decided to speak up and take pictures. I think that is every person’s right,” Buehler told Austin’s KVUE News earlier this year.

The authorities, however, see things differently. According to the officers, Buehler was interfering with their investigation. Buehler says he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights from afar, but the police department begs to differ. Buehler was “in my face,” Officer Pat Oborski writes in the official police report. The officer also claims that Buehler spit at him, an allegation that Buehler rejects.

Buehler faces a felony charge for his supposed assault on Officer Oborski. Police have gone to court to prevent release of the dashboard camera which would show this incident clearly. However, the viral video ‘No Spit! No Wipe,’ constructed from witness video solicited by Buehler via Craigslist, clearly shows his innocence. Footage also shows police restraining not just the alleged drunken driver, but also violently pinning the passenger in retaliation for advising the driver of her right to refuse a breathalyzer test. Despite these abuses of the rights of all three, the toothless Citizen Review Panel recently cleared Officers Pat Oborski and Robert Snider of any wrongdoing; per their policy, they also won’t release any details of that investigation. Antonio Buehler faces up to ten years in prison if convicted. A grand jury must convene in order for the felony charges to go forward, and he’s next due in court on July 20.

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Watercooler: Occupy Music

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Music can unite us, but also divide us. I don’t always enjoy the music at Occupy; I’d sometimes rather listen to Drastik IV, whose video here uses footage from Occupy Austin, than most of the twangy folksinger types — an attitude that might not be popular here on MyFDL. For every person who loves a dubstep-fueled street party, there’s another occupier who’d rather we had a drum circle or a sing-along.

When Tom Morello called for his original May Day Guitarmy march, he invited everyone, regardless of talent or whether they were using a handmade acoustic guitar or a plastic Walmart toy.

I watched as the 99 Mile March of the Guitarmy arrived in Liberty Square and celebrated with song, dance and music. While the voices were sometimes out of key, what mattered was the people are singing together — the real unifying effect of music. Police crack down on drumming (as seen in 2 of today’s arrests) not, in my opinion, because of the noise it makes but because of the way that sound and rhythm can empower the people and lead them to greater acts of civil disobedience. Music inspires.

Real music made by people, for people, rather than a recording company, is a powerful tool of the 99%.

That’s what’s on my mind tonight. How about you?

This is the latest MyFDL open thread.

Watercooler: Authority

6:25 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Who’s in charge here?

Can you remember a time when you thought someone was in charge serving all our best interests? I remember when I was a kid being fascinated by the idea of the United Nations, and the belief that they could hold any country in the world to task for bad behavior.

I had a brief moment of childlike pleasure reading recently about the United Nations criticism of human rights violations in police attacks on the Occupy Wall Street movement:

Frank La Rue, the UN’s special rapporteur for the protection of free expression, and Maina Kiai, the organization’s special rapporteur for freedom of peaceful assembly, will present their reports at this week’s meeting, the twentieth edition of the annual conference. Particularly in focus, though, will be how the United States government has failed to act on requests made by the two experts during the last year to address growing concerns over how law enforcement has acted towards the Occupy movement.

In one letter sent from the envoys to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the rapporteurs urge the Obama administration to “explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall.”Elsewhere they say that they’ve been concerned that excessive force waged on protesters “could have been related to [the protesters'] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

And against Canada for Quebec’s anti-protest Bill 78. Even though we all know these threats have no weight behind them, it’s a pleasure to see someone hold the West to the standards that we hold the rest of the world — even if the reality is that it’s more like the mafia are in charge.

That’s what’s on my mind tonight? What’s on yours?

This is tonight’s open thread.