By Not Fearing the System you can Change it!

root - Posted on 15 August 2004

PNN reviews the new COPWATCH training video

by Tiny/ PNN ReViEwsfOrTheReVoLuTiOn

"I do not consent to talk to you"

"Am I being detained?

"Am I free to go?"

As i watched these POWERful words of police resistance emote from the new COPWATCH know your rights training video I wished i had known these things when i was questioned, detained and finally arrested for Driving While Poor violations in Oakland a few years ago. In my case, the first rather innocuous questions about why i was " in the neighborhood" turned into the more serious, police sanctioned, "questioning" cause i was driving in a hooptie (old car) with all my possessions ( we were houseless at the time) i had priors for sleeping in my car, and although my mother was with me, i was only 17, all of which cleanly placed me as a "possible suspect" in the small strange minds of what i call the Po' Lice ( ya know parasites on the po')

"By not fearing the system you can change it" this empowering and engaging "training" video entitled "the Streets Are Watching" including brothers like Islord, a founding member of the Cinncinati branch of COPWATCH giving us words of scholarship from their ongoing struggles and necessary resistance to the local police departments' harassment of African-Americans in the Cinncinati area . Islord's narration cited the case of Timothy Thomas who was chased by cops on April 7th into an alley and then assasinated by cops igniting the infamous riots that ensued the day after the murder happened.

"People said we were tearing up our own neighborhoods", another Cinncinati member named Gavin related,but home ownership among African-Americans in Cinncinati is running at 3% - they were just trying to get noticed about this unjustice."

"The cops were basing all their stops on race profiling" Steve Nash, a founding member of the Denver branch of COPWATCH related their groups' recent win with the DEnver Police department. He went on to tell us that every Cinco De Mayo when thousands of Latino youth cruise the main Denver boulevard the police was pulling over several thousand youth on race based stops resulting in arrests and impounds of almost everyone they pulled over until the COPWATCH folk fought back by being present at the checkpoints and documenting each illegal stop- dropping the arrests to 15 citations and no arrests.

The first half of the Video was looking at the resistance of regional branches of COPWATCH; the second half was an on-screen KNOW YOUR RIGHTS training with extremely important information for all conscious citizens', especially poor folks and folk of color always at-risk of police harassment and abuse, such as the young folk at the school of Social Justice in Oakland who suffered the recent attacks by OPD

"You need to treat cops alot like farm animals, you don't want to startle or scare them" Andrea Pritchett from the Berkeley branch of COPWATCH narrated much of the Know your rights training tips with odd on-screen moments from startled and obviously defensive cops thrown in for visual aid, "You have the right to verbally refuse a search, if they are asking you questions and you answer then you are voluntarily participating in the cops' investigation" She went on to relate the modest beginnings of COPWATCH which was originally started in MArch of 1990 because the Berkeley police were trying to rid downtown Berkeley of all homeless people.

" The Signature of a real democracy is that there is a restraint on the police" As I watched civil rights attorney Osha Neuman who literally saved me from a long trip to Santa Rita County Jail for my crimes of poverty with his free and extremely innovative lawyering, speak into the camera, I was filled with not only inspiration but empowerment that with the knowledge imparted in tis video people could effectively resist the brutality, the harassment and maybe, even the wrongful death caused by the Po'lice

To get a copy of the video THESE STREETS ARE WATCHING produced and edited by Jacob Crawford contact COPWATCH at (510) 548-0425


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