Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Police Departments Retaliate Against Organized "Cop Watch" Groups Across the US

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26527-police-departments-retaliate-against-organized-cop-watch-groups-across-the-us

By Candice BerndThursday, 02 October 2014
 
When communities attempt to police the police, they often get, well... policed.

In several states, organized groups that use police scanners and knowledge of checkpoints to collectively monitor police activities by legally and peacefully filming cops on duty have said they've experienced retaliation, including unjustified detainment and arrests as well as police intimidation.
The groups operate under many decentralized organizations, most notably CopWatch and Cop Block, and have proliferated across the United States in the last decade - and especially in the aftermath of the events that continue to unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, after officer Darren Wilson fatally shot unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown.

Many such groups have begun proactively patrolling their communities with cameras at various times during the week, rather than reactively turning on their cameras when police enter into their neighborhoods or when they happen to be around police activity.

Across the nation, local police departments are responding to organized cop watching patrols by targeting perceived leaders, making arrests, threatening arrests, yanking cameras out of hands and even labeling particular groups "domestic extremist" organizations and part of the sovereign citizens movement - the activities of which the FBI classifies as domestic terrorism.

Courts across the nation at all levels have upheld the right to film police activity. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and photographer's assocications have taken many similar incidents to court, consistently winning cases over the years. The Supreme Court has ruled police can't search an individual's cellphone data without a warrant. Police also can't legally delete an individual's photos or video images under any circumstances.

"Yet, a continuing stream of these incidents (often driven by police who have been fed 'nonsense' about links between photography and terrorism) makes it clear that the problem is not going away," writes Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project.
Sources who have participated in various organized cop watching groups in cities such as New York; Chicago; Cleveland; Las Vegas; Oakland; Arlington, Texas; Austin and lastly Ferguson, Missouri, told Truthout they have experienced a range of police intimidation tactics, some of which have been caught on film. Cop watchers told Truthout they have been arrested in several states, including Texas, New York, Ohio and California in retaliation for their filming activity.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26527-police-departments-retaliate-against-organized-cop-watch-groups-across-the-us

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