I was at home on Friday night, not participating in Copwatch due to other conflicting activities. The phone rang, and on the other end was Copwatch Member D, who quickly related that another member of Copwatch, M, was being detained by the police. D said that the police were not allowing them to get anywhere near M, and that because all of the Copwatch cameras had been placed in M’s bag, the police had them all. I got the location, called to Copwatcher X, and jumped in the car to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Upon arrival we met up with D, and walked to the street where M was being detained. I walked down the sidewalk on Monroe Street, off of Broad (headed South). Quickly, 2 members of Richmond Police Department informed me that if I was going to walk down the sidewalk I would be arrested. I asked what for, and they said Obstruction of Justice.

I got into an argument with them, explaining to them the definition of Obstruction of Justice in Virginia, and how my walking down a sidewalk to observe and record the police did not count. Then the cop informed me that he had specific orders not to let the three of us down that street. This whole time other people were walking down the street. I informed the cop that what he was engaging in was illegal, selective enforcement, and a violation of our right to observe and record as well as move freely. He kept repeating that he would arrest me if Iwalked down the public sidewalk.

We spotted Brass on the opposite sidewalk and crossed to inform him that that officers under his command were breaking the law and violating our rights. This was 4th precinct commander Mike Snawder. He repeatedly told me that he advised against me walking down the sidewalk, and that if I did so I might get arrested for obstruction of justice. I explained to him his and his officer’s misuse of that concept. He did not appear to want to be reasonable.

At this point, the police had our friend M down a dark alley off of Monroe behind New York Pizza. I was frustrated at the illegal behavior of the Richmond Police, commander Snawder and all. I crossed the street away from him and walked down the sidewalk despite their repeated threats. One of the officers followed me up and down the block as I walked back and forth. I was able to see M in cuffs on the curb before they were loaded into a VCU PD Wagon in the alley.

The repeated attempts and insistence on violating our rights, trying to intimidate us, and threatening us based on vast misinterpretations of the law by the Richmond Police Department on September 2nd are just symptomatic of the many problems of the police state we are currently living in. If it weren’t for our knowledge of the law and willingness to assert our rights in the face of threats from armed goons, they would have gotten away with breaking the law and intimidating us.

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