Posts Tagged ‘rva copwatch’

Tuesday, August 7th is National Night Out.

Barton Heights, and our newly re-forming neighborhood association will be celebrating in Yancey Street Park (At intersection of North Avenue and Poe Street). We will start at 6:30 and go til dark!

There will be food to grill (vegan, vegetarian, halal options) and anyone who wants to can bring a dish to share!

There will be local organizations tabling, entertainment in the form of a DJ and/or movie, a Know Your Rights training, and a Really Really Free Market (free clothes, books, cds, etc. anyone is welcome to bring items to give away).

More details coming as we work them out. Please save the date and plan on attending! email wingnut_collective@yahoo.com if you have questions/concerns/want to help!

And also- don’t forget that the next Barton Heights Neighborhood Association meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 11th at 6pm. Tell your neighbors, and let’s get the community out to talk about how to make Barton Heights a better place for us all!

Know Your Rights Training

This workshop will help participants learn the basics of asserting their rights when dealing with the police. We highly recommend this workshop for EVERYONE. But especially anyone who engages in… any level of political protest or demonstrations.This workshop consists of skits that are performed by Copwatch members and then edited by participants from the audience. We encourage participation, questions, and dialogue around the topics covered in the skit. We are not lawyers, but we are able to provide useful information about a lot of legal questions.

For more information about this workshop or SBH Copwatch or if you are interested in having us come to your organization with a workshop  you can call 804 303 5449 or email sbhcopwatch@gmail.com

SBH Copwatch is a non-hierarchical organization dedicated to ending police abuse. We believe that monitoring and recording police interactions with community members is a vital first step towards ensuring accountability and protecting ourselves and our communities. We are committed to anti-authoritarian principles and seek to transform the nature of the police and explore alternative methods of community conflict resolution.

UPDATE: Since for whatever reason the story about the Wingnut/Richmond Copwatch using FOIA to get files from the Richmond Police Department is hot now on the internet, we are reposting this request for help.

The police refuse to send us these files.
We are asking for your help.
Please, if you already have these files send us copies. If you have the time/interest, submit a FOIA request of your own for all or part of the following.

We are also interested in any and all government documents you might have pertaining to Virginia, Virginia police (and protocols), FBI and Virginia activist organizations and anarchists etc.

Email us at wingnut_collective@yahoo.com for more info/ if you have the files!

Richmond Copwatch has had an ongoing FOIA request with the Richmond Police Department since January. We were requesting the 2nd half of the documents of police protocols that we did not get the first time we made a request. Since that time the Richmond Police Department has violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act numerous times. They have a 200 dollar deposit from us, and they are also saying that so far the costs are over 900 dollars. Their lack of communication and compliance make it clear that they are giving us the run around.

You might remember our FOIA Fun back in January- which you can read about here: http://wingnutrva.org/2011/01/04/foiad-again/

We clearly have reason to believe that the police department is refusing to follow the law with this FOIA request because of who we are. We have filed a complaint in court, but VA FOIA law is very limited in its ability to hold government agencies accountable, even if they wanted to.

Since it is taking so long, we were wondering if anyone out there had already used FOIA to get these files. The list of titles we are interested in are below. If you have the time, it would also be awesome if people wanted to submit their own FOIA requests to the Richmond Police Department for these files. However, we would love to take a look at any files people have FOIA’d from the Richmond Police Department. If you have them online, please email them to wingnut_collective@yahoo.com or you can mail a hard copy to Richmond Copwatch 2005 Barton Avenue Richmond, VA 23222 If you have a copy of any of these files that we can borrow that would be great so we can copy and scan them.

These are all sections from the General Orders Index of the Richmond Police Department. We only need the sections listed here, as we have previously received all of the other sections.
1-08
1-09
1-10
1-11
1-12
2-01
2-02
2-03
2-04
2-05
2-06
2-07

More of the documents we need after the break…
(more…)

Richmond Copwatch will be out on December 2nd to observe and record the police during December’s First Friday. We will be meeting at 6:00pm at the statue in in Festival Park. All are welcome to come out, regardless of experience!

Festival Park is located between Fifth and Seventh Streets, adjacent to the Richmond Coliseum (which is at 601 East Leigh Street, downtown).
The park between the former 6th Street Marketplace and the Richmond Coliseum is called Nina F. Abady Festival Park.

Festival Park is open until 3am so this will be a safe, public place to meet even after dark.

We will present a How to Copwatch training, in order to try to get everyone the information they need to be safe and effective.

Some things to bring include:

  • Video cameras
  • Still cameras
  • Cell phones
  • Flashlights
  • Water
  • Some snacks
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Notebook/paper for taking notes and recording information

We will be doing patrols of the First Friday Art Walk with a focus on recording police interactions with people. This is meant to curb the level of violence in the RPD’s crowd control tactics during this event, and to ensure there is a record of evidence when police brutality and violence occurs.

Depending on the number of Copwatchers who show up, we will likely split into two or more working groups and begin patrols shortly after 7:00pm. If there is not much of a police presence, we might keep patrols short and encourage folks to attend the Shockoe Bottom Copwatch Patrol the following day (Saturday Dec. 3rd meet at 10pm in front of Main Street Station).

Come out for as much or as little of First Friday as you are able. If you cannot find us, the point of contact for December’s First Friday Copwatch patrol will be (804) 300-0023.

Fair warning: Copwatchers expose themselves to a certain level of legal risk and police harrassment. If, like us, you refuse to be intimidated by these thuggish oppression tactics, come and join us!

You can get in touch with Richmond Copwatch at sbhcopwatch@gmail.com or (804) 303-5449, or come to the Copwatch meeting on December 27th at 7:00pm, at 2005 Barton Avenue.

 

Richmond Copwatch is looking for pictures and video of the Richmond Police Department last night during the Occupy Richmond marches. If you have any please email sbhcopwatch@gmail.com

Here is a short video of a Richmond Police Officer refusing to identify himself, and generally giving the person trying to find out that information a hard time. You hear the Copwatcher ask for the cop’s Name and Code Number. Then you also hear that cop refusing to give those pieces of information. You can hear him making comments about how the Copwatcher does not know protocol anymore, and must not know the RPD’s protocol. This is a reference to the fact that after Richmond Copwatch used the Freedom of Information Act to get almost 600 pages of the Richmond Police Department’s protocols, we found out that officers were required to identify themselves by Name and Code Number whenever they were asked. However, since then, the RPD has gone out of its way to alter their protocol. We have heard comments from some officers that say the change in protocol is in direct correlation to Copwatch and Copwatch’s attempts to identify members of RPD. To our best knowledge, Richmond Cops are currently only required to identify themselves by Name, but you should still always ask and get Code Number if you can.

The Richmond Police Department installed surveillance cameras around the city secretly in April. Supposedly these cameras are in areas where graffiti occurs. The police say there are 11 of these cameras.There might be more.

To identify the cameras, we have this description to go on:

“Each FlashCam digital camera is a nondescript, gray metal box capped with a small solar panel. Its manufacturer, Q-Star Technology, recommends installing them 18-20 feet above the ground. It takes 12-megapixel photos, clear enough to identify people and capture a license plate number more than 250 feet away in total darkness, Q-Star’s website says.” (from Style Weekly article here: http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/somebodys-watching-you-city-installs-covert-cameras/Content?oid=1590191 )

We have heard reports that at least some of the cameras “talk” to bystanders who set off their motion detectors. Any video of this happening would also be appreciated.

Richmond Copwatch is looking for information on the location of these cameras. If you have seen any of these cameras around Richmond, please get in touch.  804 303 5449 or sbhcopwatch@gmail.com or wingnut_collective@gmail.com

Richmond Copwatch is planning to continue its patrols of First Fridays in downtown Richmond in the month of October. Join us, meeting at the fountain in Monroe Park at 6pm on Friday October 7th. Bring cameras- video or still, cell phones, flashlights or headlamps, water and snacks if you have them. Please dress for the weather and with shoes you are comfortable walking around in for a couple of hours.

If you are able to, we recommend that you get in touch with Copwatch ahead of time for a Know Your Rights training and a brief How to Copwatch training. We will coordinate groups for that evening in the park, and also arrange for a group debriefing at the end of the night.

August was the first month we did an official patrol of the First Fridays event (after over a year of doing Copwatch in Richmond), and one Copwatcher had a tazer put in their face by a Richmond Cop. In September, a smaller patrol went out and was assaulted and harassed by the Richmond police, culminating in one member of Copwatch being arrested at the end of the night on bogus charges. We refuse to be intimidated by the illegal actions of the Richmond Police Department. The aggressive, illegal, and unprofessional behavior of the Richmond Police Department as a whole, simply goes to show the necessity of Copwatch, and the regular observing and recording of a police force as long as one exists. Beyond that the continued violent and oppressive behavior of many members of the Richmond Police Department goes to show the systemic nature of problems with police- problems that will be solved not through reform, but through abolition. As long as the police congregate on Broad Street to oppress and antagonize largely youth of color in order to maintain the gentrifying aspects of the First Fridays Artwalk, Copwatch will be there.

In October we will be doing patrols of this event, cameras in hand. If you are interested in joining us for the patrol, please get in touch, (more…)

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. (more…)

Richmond Police try to force members of Richmond Copwatch down the sidewalk on Broad Street during a cancelled First Fridays on September 2nd.

Officer Gilbert and one other intentionally try to prevent Copwatch members from observing and recording the police, as we are legally allowed to do. They also insisted that Copwatch members would be written a summons if they did not keep walking. They denied the right of Copwatchers to stand on the city sidewalk. Officer Gilbert repeatedly assaults one Copwatcher by kicking and shoving him in an obvious attempt at harassment and intimidation. The Richmond Police shown in this video are clearly violating the rights of members of Richmond Copwatch.

Richmond Copwatch met Friday night at 6pm to do Copwatch patrols during the monthly First Fridays Art Walk on Broad and Marshall streets downtown.One Copwatcher went into Rite Aid to purchase some drinks. The rest (about 12 at that point) were waiting on the edge of the parking lot.

Before Copwatch even split off into separate patrols, a Richmond Cop- Toney Waldorf of the 4th precinct – pulled into the Rite- Aid parking lot where we were meeting. He parked quickly and at an angle, and then exited his vehicle. He called out “Hey What Are You Doing”, to 2 Copwatchers – Z and M- who were walking past his car towards Broad street.  One Copwatcher, M, replied, “Am I Being Detained?”. The Cop did not identify himself or express what it was he wanted from anyone in that area. He finally exclaimed “I’m not talking to you” and then jumped in front of the Copwatcher, Z, on the outside of the pair (farther away from him). Waldorf the cop, unsheathed his Tazer and held it in a firing stance in Z’s face.

The Tazer was about 2 feet from his face, and the cop held it out while yelling about how Z should have stopped walking faster (even though it was by no means clear who that cop was talking to or what he wanted from whoever he was directing his attention towards).

The cop - Waldorf- already tall, stood on the median of the parking lot, putting his tazer (which he is holding with 2 hands in a firing stance) at Z's face level. Z did nothing to resist, reached for no potential weapon, and essentially did nothing threatening in any way which could have justified Waldorf's use of potentially lethal force.

When other police arrived they started telling the Copwatchers to leave the Rite Aid parking lot. Copwatchers, still filming, all cooperated and moved to exit the parking lot. While M was walking backwards out of the parking lot, filming, one Cop who’s embroidered tag said “Stone” refused to identify himself by name and code number. While he aggressively invaded M’s space, M continued to walk backwards towards the exit. Stone committed  Battery on M by grabbing her arm to push her at one point, while she continued to exit the parking lot. He also completely violated RPD’s protocol by refusing to identify himself.

Here is part of Z’s personal account:

“After waiting outside of the Rite Aid for a friend to retrieve some drinks, me and another friend were walking away to observe Richmond’s first Friday event.  While we were walking away a police car pulled up and an officer got out asking to speak with us.

I said “what?  No, why?”  and continued to walk slowly away

M said “are we being detained?”

Police said “I’m talking to him”

M repeated “are we being detained?”

The police officer darted in front of us and pulled out his Tazer pointing it at me telling me to stop where I was.  He told me to walk over to the back of his car which I did and he continued to question me and take my ID.  He asked me for my social security number and when I refused he threatened to spend hours dealing with me and to take me downtown.  I begrudgingly gave this stranger my SS number after being so threatened.  While he looked me up in his car two other officers berated me with questions.  One of the officers was very rude and spoke of his beliefs that human nature was full of evil.  He also believed that someone from Copwatch was probably the person that called them in the first place so that we could have another chance to “martyr” ourselves.  He got very heated trying to tell me all about how our few minutes of waiting outside of the Rite Aid for our friend was loitering since it was posted that we were not allowed.  Another officer came up later demanding that he be able to take my picture (to which I did not give consent) because they couldn’t find me in the system.

This being a rather abrupt and excessive use of force concerns me greatly.  This officer almost tazed me for not answering his questions quickly enough.  All of this harassment happened because he suspected I may be the person Rite Aid called the police on for smoking Cannabis.  I believe our presence as members of Copwatch greatly affected his choice to escalate force so quickly.” (more…)