Many of you who live in Southern Barton Heights may have seen some of the Wingnuts and other folks in the neighborhood out watching the cops on a pretty regular basis.  For those of you who we haven’t yet had the opportunity to talk with about what we’re doing, here’s a little bit of information about copwatch in general and Southern Barton Heights Cop Watch in specific.  If you’d like to get involved, do so!  Or if you have questions about how to get involved or what you can do to help, email us or stop by the Wingnut.

What is copwatch?
Copwatch is a decentralized network of autonomous organizations spread all over the country.  The purpose of a copwatch group is to monitor and document police activity, with the intention of helping to prevent police misconduct and police brutality.

Southern Barton Heights Copwatch is still in its formative stages, but we do our best to be a highly visible, monitoring presence to as much police activity in our area as we can.  We use such tactics as video taping, camera phones, and note taking to document police activity.

Who can do copwatch?
Anyone can do copwatch!  Any time you see the police stopping someone or interacting with members of our community, grab a camera, video camera, pen and paper, and document what you see.  Try to grab a friend or another person to watch the cops with you, it’s safer.

How do I do copwatch?
First of all, try to ensure your own safety.  Don’t have drugs or illegal weapons on  you, don’t go out carrying a beer, and try to bring at least one friend with you.  The police have been known to intimidate, threaten and sometimes even assault individuals doing copwatch on their own.

Next, try to document relevant details of what’s going on.  Document the date, time, the location where the event is taking place, and any other details you think might be relevant.  Get police license plates, and if you feel comfortable asking the cops for their badge numbers, get those after the incident is over.

Try NOT to document anyone other than the police.  The goal is to monitor the police, not gather evidence for them.  This might sometimes be impossible (for example if the police are beating someone), but try to avoid filming or taking pictures of anyone but the cops.  If you can’t avoid it, try to ask consent from anyone who might be in your pictures/video.

Finally, try to avoid being confrontational with the police.  If they ask you to step back, do so.  Don’t answer their questions, but don’t be rude or hostile towards them either.  It’s not going to help anyone if you get arrested and your documentation confiscated.

If you want to, you can send the information/video/pictures you’ve gathered to sbhcopwatch@gmail.com.

If you have any questions, or want to help us with the setting up of a more formal copwatch group you can either stop by the wingnut, or email sbhcopwatch@gmail.com.

Because Accountability is for EVERYONE.

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