30 Oct
2014

Antonio Buehler Found Not Guilty!

Antonio Buehler was found Not Guilty on the charge of Disobeying a Lawful Order last evening, after six hours of deliberation by the jury.

(left to right) APD Officer Jermaine Hopkins, Defense Lawyer Millie Thompson, Defendant Antonio Buehler


During closing arguments, Millie Thompson, Buehler’s defense lawyer, argued that Buehler did not have to obey Oborski’s orders to put his hands behind his back because Oborski’s orders were illegal. They were illegal because the detention, assault and arrest of Norma Pizana were illegal, and because the detention and assault on Buehler in advance of his arrest were also illegal. She implored the jury to review the videos and audio if need be, to read carefully the jury charge, and to stand by their convictions and to not be intimidated by the Austin Police Department that had upwards of a dozen police officers in the court during the trial. She also encouraged them to have the courage to stand up for others the way that so many stood up on New Year’s Day, 2012. Norma Pizana stood up for the rights of her driver. Buehler stood up for Pizana. Numerous witnesses then came forward to stand up for Buehler, including a witness who testified that Officer Robert Snider then threatened him with arrest. Finally, Jermaine Hopkins, an Austin Police Officer said that he couldn’t in good conscience allow Buehler’s civil rights to be violated, so he crossed the thin blue line to testify on behalf of the defense.

Thompson had a well prepared defense that included a T-chart that she wrote on a white board that compared the legal orders that were given by the officers versus the illegal orders. The legal orders side was left blank while the illegal orders side had at least a half dozen listed. She also questioned the notion that Buehler was a threat, highlighting that even Pizana who was in extreme distress as she was being assaulted knew that Antonio was holding a camera, not a potential weapon as asserted by City Prosecutor Matthew McCabe; that Buehler never got in the face of Oborski or Snider; and that Buehler never articulated a threat of any sort towards the police, but instead simply asked them why they were assaulting Pizana. As an alternative to him being a threat, she wrote on the other half of the whiteboard that what really bothered the police officers was that he questioned their manhood. He did so, Thompson said, because he was the one who was in control of himself that night; he questioned the cops on their aggressive assault of an unarmed, nonviolent woman; and he spoke to the police officers as if he were a father figure as Snider claimed, as if the cops were naughty little children.

The Prosecution then presented their closing arguments, again falling back on the notion that nothing the police said or did before the order to put hands behind the back mattered, and that Buehler could only be judged based on his decision not to at that point. They also argued that any police officer has the right to handcuff anyone so long as they deem the person a threat – an argument never presented before by Officer Oborski. The Assistant City Prosecutor who tried the case, Matthew McCabe, continued with his ethically questionable antics during closing arguments. He seemingly intentionally misstated the law over and over again, despite objections by the Defense. He also decided to demonstrate how palms forward, arms out to the side, may not be a universal symbol of non-aggression, but instead a very challenging aggressive stance. He threw his arms out to the side, threw his his chest forward, and stepped toward the jury numerous times demonstrating how Buehler’s efforts to deescalate a situation with a police officer who had assaulted him might actually be a threatening gesture. The move likely backfired, as several jurors who had seen videos showing only Oborski advancing toward Buehler, had looks of disgust on their face.

Buehler was elated at the ruling. He said, “Finally, after three years, I no longer have charges hanging over my head from an incident in which I saw two Austin Police Officers violently assault an innocent woman, and in which I was violently assaulted for filming and speaking out about the crimes of Officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider. The lengths that the City Attorneys and the Austin Police Department have gone to try to railroad me and permanently stain my record with a crime they know I didn’t commit are despicable. I hope that the people of Austin begin to realize that the police in this city are not here to protect and serve the people of Austin. I also hope that the people of Austin recognize the immense courage of the jury and all the witnesses who were willing to stand up and do the right thing, instead of folding under the threat of retaliation by the Austin Police Department.”

He went on to reiterate points made by his attorney Millie Thompson, “There were so many heroes in this trial. Norma stood up for Ashley. I stood up for Norma. Numerous people stood up for me at that 7-Eleven both that night and in the aftermath of my arrest. And during the trial a police officer stood up for me by crossing the thin blue line. And now five jurors stood up for justice in the face of lies and intimidation from the city prosecutors and police.

Thompson added, “APD delayed trial. APD withheld evidence. And the prosecution tried at every turn to protect APD by obstructing our ability to lay out the facts and law for the jury. The jury, however, saw this case for what it was, and said by their verdict: “Not Guilty.”

Antonio Buehler is an entrepreneur in the education space, a West Point, Stanford and Harvard graduate, and the founder of the police accountability activist group, the Peaceful Streets Project. Buehler currently has a pending Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Austin as well as several Austin Police officers, including Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider.

28 Oct
2014

Antonio Buehler Case to Enter into Fourth Day; Questions About Conduct of the Prosecutor Arise

Those who showed up for the Class C Misdemeanor trial against Antonio Buehler on Monday were expecting to hear closing arguments and receive a jury verdict before lunch, but they were surprised to find that the case would not end by lunch. A juror walked in about an hour before the trial was expected to resume and asked the Judge to be excused from duty. The Defense and the Prosecution were both willing to allow the juror to leave for personal reasons; however, the subsequent move for a mistrial by City Prosecutor Matthew McCabe left many scratching their heads as to why the City of Austin was so eager to prevent a jury from making a decision in what has now become a four-day trial (over a seven day period).

Buehler’s defense lawyer Millie Thompson responded by moving to allow five jurors to deliberate in order to prevent forcing multiple witnesses from out of town to attend another trial, and to save the taxpayers the expense of another three- to four-day trial over a Class C Misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $500 fine.

Spectators who have been watching the jury trial keep questioning the motives and tactics of McCabe and the City Prosecutor’s Office. While Buehler has Thompson to defend him, the City has had six to eight members of the Prosecutor’s Office assisting McCabe throughout the trial. In addition to being filled with City prosecutors, the courtroom has also been filled with Austin Police Department officers. Throughout the trial, there have been at least six police officers in uniform and in plain clothes passing time in the gallery. One of the spectators has been Assistant Police Chief Jason Dusterhoft. In his previous role as the Commander of Highway Enforcement, Dusterhoft oversaw both Officer Patrick Oborski, who Buehler alleges illegally assaulted and illegally arrested him on New Year’s Day, 2012, and Sergeant Adam Johnson, who Buehler alleges illegally arrested him on September 21, 2012. Both Oborski and Johnson are being sued by Buehler.

McCabe’s antics during the trial have been as unnerving for some as has the show of force by the Austin Police Department. In addition to trying to shame Norma Pizana, the woman who was initially assaulted by Officers Robert Snider and Patrick Oborski, he often distracted witnesses and jurors with countless huffs, puffs and sarcastic laughs. At one point, while Buehler was explaining how the action that Snider and Oborski took against Pizana was a recognized torture move, McCabe began to laugh, and was rebuked by Buehler for making light of torture. McCabe has also consistently misstated the law regarding reasonable suspicion, probable cause and Terry stops, and he has allowed his witnesses to do the same. Despite frequent objections by Thompson, McCabe has continued to push forward in the apparent hopes of convincing the jury that the officers were acting under circumstances that they had never before alleged or testified to.

Additionally, spectators and legal observers were dumbfounded when they heard that prosecutors had withheld discovery from the defendant. The defense did not receive the dash cam videos until 2 years and nine months after the initial arrest! Additionally, the prosecution never acknowledged that they had the 7-Eleven surveillance video until they realized the defense had acquired it through other channels.

Buehler said he was concerned about his right to a fair trial. “We came into this trial hoping that the truth would win out. Unfortunately, it seems that the Prosecution’s bully tactics and misconduct have gone far beyond just misleading the jury about the events of New Year’s 2012, it has now encroached upon prosecutorial misconduct as they are deliberately misleading the jury on what the law states.”

Buehler’s attorney Millie Thompson had more to say. “The City’s conduct regarding Antonio Buehler is almost like a law school exam: ‘How many Constitutional Law violations can you spot?’

“First, his First Amendment rights were violated by APD when they attacked him for asking questions and taking pictures. Then, APD officers illegally detained and assaulted him in retaliation for that First Amendment protected speech. Third, they let felony harassment of a public servant charges stay pending for more than a year when – we now know – the officer didn’t think there was any intentional conduct. By leaving the charges pending without informing his chain of command that he didn’t believe the alleged spit was intentional, he violated Mr. Buehler’s rights to Due Process. Fourth, the City put this Class C ticket on the back-burner for 2 years and 10.5 months before taking it trial – a violation of the Speedy Trial Clause.

“And, now, the piece de resistance: The City wants to violate the Double Jeopardy Clause by asking for a mistrial so they can have a do-over.

“I was born in Austin and went to Reagan High School. My parents were born here; my grandparents were born here. My great grandfather Kenneth Threadgill, who founded Threadgills, was born here. Austinites expect more from their local government than what they’ve seen in this case.”

Day four of the Buehler trial begins at 8:30 a.m., on Wednesday, October 28th at Courtroom #2A of the Austin Municipal Courthouse.

DEFENDANT’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW OPPOSING THE STATE’S MOTION FOR MISTRIAL: Opposition to Mistrial

27 Oct
2014

Trial for the Controversial New Year’s Day Arrest of Antonio Buehler Concludes Monday, October 27th at Austin Municipal Court

Tomorrow morning, Monday, October 27th, at the Austin Municipal Courthouse, what has been perhaps the most exciting and tense Class C Misdemeanor trial in recent Austin history will finally come to a close.

On Friday, in a surprise move that would extend the trial into a third day, Austin City Prosecutor Matthew McCabe recalled Officer Robert Snider and called APD Academy Instructor Raul Carrillo to testify. Calling Snider back to the stand was a curious move, considering that Snider did not endear himself to the jury for the way he described his decision to pull Norma Pizana out of the passenger seat of a car for texting on her phone, and for his admission that he threatened to arrest a pedestrian bystander who observed the arrests of Buehler, Pizana and Hill. Snider ended up leaving the witness stand without answering a single question.

Officer Carrillo, the prosecution’s last minute star witness was perhaps an even bigger mistake. Without being qualified as an expert, Carrillo could not testify to the specifics of Buehler’s New Year’s Day arrest, so instead he was forced to answer hypothetical scenarios. McCabe tried to lead Carrillo down a path that would suggest that the actions of Officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider were justified. Buehler’s attorney Millie Thompson, meanwhile, walked Carrillo down a hypothetical path that mirrored the New Year’s Day arrest, leading Carrillo to acknowledge that Oborski should not have approached Buehler, should have probably backed up when he realized he was too close to Buehler, and that Oborski’s actions were tantamount to assault.

Earlier in the day the, Austin Police Officer Jermaine Hopkins crossed the “thin blue line” to testify on behalf of the defense. When asked why he chose to step forward, Hopkins said that he couldn’t in good conscience allow the Austin Police Department to trample upon Mr. Buehler’s civil rights. Hopkins helped correct what the Defense believed were misstatements by the Prosecutor, Oborski, and Snider about the law regarding probable cause and reasonable suspicion. Thompson later filed a motion with the judge to properly instruct the jury on the law before deliberations.

Additionally, Antonio Buehler had his opportunity to testify before the Defense rested their case. Buehler got choked up early on, describing how Pizana’s cried, “Help me please!” as Oborski and Snider ratcheted her arms up behind her back, but he recovered quickly to describe in detail everything that followed. Buehler continually referenced the videos as he explained how Oborski approached him and begin to shove and push him without cause, well before there was any claim of Oborski being spit on. Buehler also admitted to ignoring Oborski’s instructions to put his hands behind his back, as he deemed such instructions to be unlawful given what he believed were previous illegal acts by both Oborski and Snider. While Buehler’s testimony was expected to take 2-3 hours, McCabe apparently did not seem eager to question Buehler and quickly passed the witness.

“I was really disappointed that McCabe didn’t ask me more questions,” Buehler said. “He continued, “Every time McCabe asked me a question, we were able to highlight how malicious and dishonest their case is, which explains why he was so eager to get me off the stand. I hope the jury saw what was evident to everyone else in the courtroom—that unlike the prosecution, we didn’t have to try to keep our lies straight—all we had to do was speak the truth. I hope that the people of Austin are the next ones to recognize the incredibly disturbing lengths that the Austin Police Department and the City Prosecutors have taken to try to cover up the crimes of two corrupt cops.”

Buehler’s attorney Millie Thompson said, “The police arrested an innocent man. By doing so, they guaranteed a long and expensive court battle. We had a three day trial. Three police officers testified for the State. Six witnesses testified for the defense. Six Austinite jurors. The lost man-hours and State’s resources that went into prosecuting this frivolous Class C Misdemeanor with a maximum $500 fine are extraordinary – all to protect APD’s unconstitutional conduct. Do Austin tax payers want their money spent this way? ”

Antonio Buehler is an entrepreneur in the education space, a West Point, Stanford and Harvard graduate, and the founder of the police accountability activist group, the Peaceful Streets Project. Buehler currently has a pending Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Austin as well as several Austin Police officers, including Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider.

23 Oct
2014
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Press Release: Trial for the Controversial New Year’s Day Arrest of Antonio Buehler Set for Thursday, October 23rd at Austin Municipal Court

Antonio Buehler, who was arrested after he stood up for a woman who he believed was being assaulted by two Austin police officers, will be in court Thursday to defend himself against a charge of Disregarding the Order of a Police Officer. The trial will take place at Austin Municipal Court courtroom #2A at 8:30 a.m., tomorrow morning. The jury trial is expected to take one to two days, with the city bringing officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider to testify against Buehler. The defense will bring several witnesses who will testify that Austin police officers illegally assaulted and arrested Buehler for exercising his First Amendment rights after those officers illegally assaulted and arrested a young woman for exercising her First Amendment rights during a DWI stop.

In addition to hearing testimony from witnesses who observed Buehler’s arrest, it is expected that attendees will be able to view the cell phone video taken by a bystander, the 7-Eleven surveillance video that was released earlier this week, as well as the video and associated audio from both Patrick Oborski’s and Robert Snider’s dash cameras.

“I’m thrilled that my lawyer Millie Thompson has been able to force the hand of the City of Austin so that I can finally get my day in court,” Buehler said. He went on to say, “Chief Art Acevedo and the Austin Police Department have expended considerable effort covering up the crimes of their officers for nearly three years, slandering and retaliating against me and the other victim in the process, instead of simply holding their police officers accountable for their crimes. It’s about time that the media and the public will finally be exposed to the unabashed corruption and misconduct that Art Acevedo and his underlings have engaged in.”

Buehler’s attorney Millie Thompson said, “Across the country, citizens now wonder if police officers should wear video equipment attached to their uniforms. Luckily in Antonio Buehler’s case, we have four different video recordings of the January 1, 2012 events: One from a bystander, two from the officers’ vehicles, and one surveillance video. We are excited that a jury will weigh the independent witnesses’ testimony with the video evidence against the officers’ tales to fully, finally, and fairly decide this case. ”

Antonio Buehler is an entrepreneur in the education space, a West Point, Stanford and Harvard graduate, and the founder of the police accountability activist group, the Peaceful Streets Project. Buehler currently has a pending Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Austin as well as several Austin Police officers, including Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider.

21 Oct
2014

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project Response to APD’s Latest Attack on First Amendment

In response to the Austin Police Department’s (APD) continued attempts to prosecute Antonio Buehler, the Peaceful Streets Project will be launching a series of actions from October 21st to the 24th. They are attempting to convict him on several charges, to include a charge of failing to obey a “lawful order” associated with his controversial New Year’s Day, 2012 arrest. In a recent release from Antonio Buehler, he explained the initial arrest:

“On January 1, 2012, I saw two Austin cops assaulting a woman who had not committed a crime. When I tried to take pictures and question the cops, I was assaulted and charged with a felony crime of spitting in a cop’s face (2-10 year prison sentence).

Fortunately, numerous witnesses came forward, including one who took video of the incident. Every witness said the cop lied and the video proves it. However, the APD pushed forward with their charges against me.”

In March of 2013, APD failed to get a grand jury indictment against Antonio Buehler for any of the charges that he had been arrested on. However, they were curiously able to have him indicted on four Class C Misdemeanors for alleged crimes he was never arrested on, an unheard of action taken against a victim of police abuse by a grand jury. Antonio pushed forward with a civil suit in the wake of the grand jury ruling. In an attempt to undermine the validity of the civil suit, APD and the City Attorney are pushing forward on the Class C Misdemeanor charges even though Buehler was clearly exercising his First Amendment right according to SCOTUS. Through this action, the APD violated the 1st Amendment in practice, while hypocritically claiming to adhere to the law. The first court date is set for October 23rd at 8:30 a.m. at Municipal Courthouse courtroom #2A.

On Tuesday, October 21st, the Peaceful Streets Project will host a meeting to address the court case and to organize the direct actions we will be launching in response. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 21st, in the indoor back room of Spider House Cafe, 2908 Fruth St. The actions will begin with a ceremonial copwatch on the west end of North Lamar in the area of the initial incident on New Year’s Day, 2012. Then at night, after the first day in court we will launch continued copwatch in the west end district as well as copwatch actions throughout the 6th street area. It is believed that the officer in charge of the task force that initially arrested Antonio Buehler, Adam Johnson, has been reassigned to horse patrol on 6th street. These actions are prepared to continue nightly until a dismissal or non-guilty verdict is reached.

The court system belongs to the same corrupt system as the police department. Historically it heavily, if not infinitely, favors the police no matter how wicked their deed. But the streets themselves belong to the community of the people they assault, oppress and exploit. Here in these streets the Austin Police Department will answer for their deeds through the use of non-violent actions utilizing our First Amendment rights.

20 Oct
2014

BREAKING: Surveillance Video from Controversial New Year’s Day Arrest of Antonio Buehler Released for Public Viewing

For the first time, the public is able to view the 7-Eleven surveillance video that captured the controversial arrest of Antonio Buehler on January 1, 2012.

Buehler made headlines after he photographed and called out two Austin police officers for assaulting an innocent woman in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, 2012. After threatening Buehler with the words, “Worry about yourself!” Officer Patrick Oborski assaulted Buehler, and filed a Felony 3 – Harassment of a Public Servant charge against him for allegedly spitting in the officer’s face – a charge that carries a two to ten year prison sentence.

Facing felony charges, Buehler went to the public to ask for witnesses to step forward, and multiple witnesses did. A local entrepreneur and a local academician who were both in the 7-Eleven parking lot shared their stories with the local media, and a gentleman across the street took cell phone video of the incident. With witnesses and the video, coupled with Buehler’s background which included degrees from West Point and Stanford, prior service as an Airborne Ranger qualified Army officer, extensive volunteering and education work with children, his role as a designated driver that night, and no previous run-ins with law enforcement, the incident garnered significant media attention and forced the Austin Police Department to resort to a slander campaign against Buehler and the woman who were assaulted. Additionally, despite countless requests from concerned citizens and the media, APD refused to release any audio or video from the incident.

Buehler leveraged his diverse following of supporters to launch the Peaceful Streets Project to encourage people to know their rights, stand up for the rights of one another and to hold police accountable for their actions. The Peaceful Streets Project handed out 100 free video cameras to residents of Austin to document police action, they organized hundreds of cop watch events, they hosted over a dozen Know Your Rights training sessions, and they organized two police accountability summits.

With the rise of the success of the Peaceful Streets Project, the Austin Police Department increased their harassment of Buehler and his supporters. APD arrested several Peaceful Streets Project volunteers for filming, including Buehler who they arrested three more times.

Buehler’s charges remained outstanding for 15 months before a Grand Jury finally no-billed Buehler. However, in a stark departure from traditional Grand Jury practices, they indicted him on four Class C Misdemeanors that he was never charged with. With Class C Misdemeanor indictments, Buehler was handicapped in his ability to file a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Austin and the police officers who illegally arrested him. He ultimately retained Daphne Silverman and filed suit against APD officers Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider, Adam Johnson, Justin Berry, Chief of Police Art Acevedo and the City of Austin just before the two year anniversary of his controversial arrest.

Nearly three years after his arrest, this Thursday, October 23rd, Buehler is finally going to get his day in court. At the Austin Municipal Court courtroom #2A, at 8:30 a.m., Buehler will defend himself against a charge of Disregarding the Order of a Police Officer for not putting his arms behind his back after Oborski illegally and without probable cause assaulted Buehler for exercising his First Amendment rights. The outcome of this case will help determine whether or not the City of Austin moves forward with the other three Class C Misdemeanor charges against Buehler, and it will influence the direction of Buehler’s civil suit against the police officers and the City of Austin.

Buehler said he is looking forward to Thursday. “For nearly three years, the Austin Police Department has been slandering me, harassing me, and targeting me for illegal arrests. Since day one, I wanted to share my story and all available evidence with the public to prove my innocence and to put a spotlight on the conduct of Patrick Oborski and the other officers within the Austin Police Department. Meanwhile, the Austin Police Department has suppressed all evidence related to my arrests while intentionally feeding lies about me and their other victims to the media. I’m glad the 7-Eleven surveillance video that shows that Oborski was the aggressor and that he lied about me spitting in his face is finally being released. Further, through the trial on the 23rd, Austin will finally be able to hear from witnesses who were at the scene, see the dash cams, and listen to the audio that further exposes the lies of Patrick Oborski and the subsequent cover up by the Austin Police Department.”

7-Eleven surveillance video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3kvi0Oyo0U

10 Sep
2014
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Was the Austin Police Department trying to justify using deadly force against Peaceful Streets Project volunteers?

“***CONFIDENTIAL- Law Enforcement Only***”

The Austin Police Department went to great lengths to lay the groundwork to justify using deadly force against Antonio Buehler and members of the Peaceful Streets Project in 2012 & 2013.

The first three images come from an email/report from Officer Justin Berry, the police officer who arrested Peaceful Streets Project co-founder, Antonio Buehler on August 26th, 2012. Buehler’s crime? Filming cops. In it he goes to great lengths to suggest that Buehler and the Peaceful Streets Project may be a domestic terrorist threat, and an imminent threat to police officers.

The second three images come from an email that Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent sent to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, insisting that the Peaceful Streets Project poses a real threat to police and that the police department, city and county prosecutors, and city attorneys should collude to take action against Buehler and other members of the Peaceful Streets Project.

The next three images also come from an email from Wayne Vincent, but this time to all of the cops in Austin. In it he tells the coward cops of Austin that their lives are in danger, and even uses the term “dead cop” to convince them how dangerous people with cameras are. Not surprisingly, Wayne Vincent also shared a veiled threat against Buehler and the Peaceful Streets Project with a local news station.

The next image comes from an email from Adam Johnson, a criminal cop who arrested Antonio Buehler on September 21, 2012 for filming cops. Adam Johnson is also Patrick Oborski’s supervisor. He just wanted to make sure that he let the Commander Jason Dusterhoft and Lieutenant Derek Galloway know that he appreciated them covering for a cop they know committed numerous felony crimes.

Reading further down the email, the Austin Police Department tried to claim that Peaceful Streets Project co-founder Harold Gray had made threats to Officer Robert Snider. Robert Snider was the cop who assaulted an innocent woman on January 1, 2012 in downtown Austin, and who later joined Officer Patrick Oborski in assaulting Peaceful Streets Project co-founder Antonio Buehler. The “threats” made to Officer Robert Snider was a suggestion that volunteers flier Snider’s neighborhood with information so that his neighbors would know what their buddy cop did.

The next image comes from an email from the previously mentioned coward, criminal Austin Police Department Cop Justin Berry wherein he accuses Peaceful Streets Project co-founder John Bush of stockpiling weapons for future violent action against the police.

Who exactly do the cops in Austin work for?

9 Sep
2014
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Multiple Arrests, Cameras Confiscated, for Peaceful People Filming Police

Arlington, TX – Three activists with Texas Cop Block and the Tarrant County Peaceful Streets Project were arrested by Arlington PD while exercising their first amendment rights to film the police during a routine traffic stop on Sunday night. At first, it seemed like the police were trying to arrest the people standing closest to the traffic stop, but then it turned into something that might seem a little more sinister.

Raw Video Footage:

The two men arrested during the night were Joseph Tye, one of the leaders of Texas Cop Block, and Kory Watkins, with the Tarrant County Peaceful Streets Project and Open Carry Tarrant County. The woman arrested was Kory’s wife, Janie Watkins.

It started when a group of about 16 Cop Watchers were documenting a routine traffic stop in a parking lot at about 10:30 P.M. on Cooper Street. Joseph, Kory, Janie and a couple of others stood about 20-25 feet away from the traffic stop, while the majority of the group was directed much further back. They were documenting the stop from the steps of the businesses that shared the parking lot. The smaller group, near the stop, were then approached by an officer who gave them an order to stand back. He directed them to what looked to be another 30-40 feet behind their original position. The group complied, except Joseph, who knew he was well within his rights to stand where he was. He was immediately arrested. That is when the chaos began.

Swarms of cops began to pull into and alongside the parking lot with their cruisers. Kory and Janie were standing in the designated area that the cops had mandated them to stay, when one squad car nearly hit Janie while driving into the parking lot, which noticeably angered her husband. Kory expressed his displeasure in witnessing the officer nearly clip his wife and was pushed out of the way by police so that the vehicle could enter the premises. Soon after, he was cuffed and stuffed, and in turn, Janie expressed her own displeasure at the way the police were treating her husband.

Nearly 20 police officers were there at this point and they corralled the small group near the traffic stop. The people observing from afar were put into one small corner on the far end of the parking lot. The police lined up and formed a blockade, where the citizens could no longer film the traffic stop.

Kenny Lovett, a member of the group recalled the moment in a statement he made to The Free Thought Project where he said, “It reminded me of herding cattle. I thought it was over kill for the police. It was not called for.”

At this point, Kory and Joseph were in the back of police vehicles. While detained in the police car, Joseph recalled hearing police over their radios talking about another member of the group named Jacob Cordova. Jacob is one of the more outspoken crew members. The Free Thought Project covered one of his videos where he chastised an Arlington police officer for double parking. The night of the arrests, Jacob’s video of the interaction was taken down from YouTube. It seemed like the police were specifically targeting the leaders of the group.

The article with the removed video can be seen here: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/citizen-cop-taste-police-harassment-feels/

Although the police didn’t grab Jacob, they continued to harass the group who were now corralled in the corner of the parking lot. A police officer identified as Sgt. Rodriguez began screaming at the crowd as if he wanted everyone to know that he was in charge. The group was visibly agitated and shouted back at the power-tripping sergeant, telling HIM to control HIMSELF. Witnessing this sergeant’s behavior on video, it makes one wonder about the current scandal regarding the APD’s use and distribution of steroids.

When the crowd was finally boxed in, a sergeant pointed out Janie Watkins in the corralled group. One officer grabbed her arm with little warning, and in a “knee jerk reaction” she pulled away. She was immediately man-handled, snatched up and taken away by about three of her “protectors”.

We can see the bruises the peace officers left on Janie’s arms in the photo below.

The other cops forming the barricade had expressions on their faces that showed either fear or guilt. Since the group was openly shaming the police at this juncture, and they weren’t violent, one could only assume that it was a look of guilt on the faces of the other cops. “Where are the good cops!” one of the group members could be heard saying. The cop watchers also made comments challenging the police officers to think about the sworn oaths to the Constitution that police are required take upon being hired as law enforcement.

So, what made this ‘sinister’ as stated in the first paragraph? Well, with each arrest, there was a man directing the group of arresting officers. They didn’t make any moves until this guy told them what to do. This unidentified man wore plain, civilian attire. Not the typical supervisor on scene. Plus, they arrested only the most outspoken leaders of the group on some charges that don’t make any sense.

The night after the arrests, a local news station put out a hit piece on the group in an attempt to destroy their character. Unsurprisingly, they only gave APD’s side of the story while depicting the three liberty-loving activists as criminals. The news broadcast showed Kory reacting to the police car that almost hit his wife, Janie. They make mention that Kory was open carrying a black powder pistol and that the police saw the gun as a possible threat. In the local news’ video report they showed an interview with Arlington Police Chief, Will Johnson, where he says that the police department has been trying to initiate an open dialogue with the Cop Watchers for months.

Here is what the news broadcast didn’t tell you. Other than the fact that they didn’t mention, or show video of the numerous power tripping police, they also didn’t mention that the black powder gun is inoperable or that the APD had knowledge from a ” target=”_blank”>previous night when they disarmed Kory and found that the gun cannot fire (it’s just for educational purposes).

They also didn’t explain the “open dialogue” the police are talking about is actually in the form of back dated fines (tickets) and letters discouraging following cops which the department sends the group in the mail.

This letter explains how APD will respect the rights of those who film them. Obviously they had no intention of honoring those words.

Tickets Sent in mail as part of the “Outreach” APD was conducting.

The media also didn’t tell you the group was peaceful on the night of the arrests and the people who initiated conflict were actually the police. Nor did they tell you that APD has had YouTube censor videos from one of the group’s members.

The news team also failed to educate their audience that along with charges of interference of public duties, Kory and Janie were also charged with blocking a highway, while they were standing on a public sidewalk. Joseph Tye was charged with failure to ID even though he showed them his Army ID with name, date of birth, and social security number.

The group is currently filing complaints against the APD with the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation for civil rights violations.

If you would like to donate to their legal battle, the group has created a crowdfunding account so you can help out. https://www.gofundme.com/dzkop4/

Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

REPRINTED FROM THE FREE THOUGH PROJECT
Written by Bill Murray on September 9, 2014

25 Aug
2014
Posted in: Blog Post
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Cops commit thousands of violent crimes per day

From Eric Garner to Michael Brown, it has become more and more apparent to more and more Americans that the police state in this country is out of control. Despite endless attempts by police, their cop apologist friends and families, politicians, corrupted media and overt racists, thoughtful people cannot explain away a seemingly endless array of “isolated incidents” in which cops murder unarmed people.

The events in Ferguson, MO are forcing a national debate on the appropriate role of police and their use of force. We believe that conversation must happen if we are going to move toward a more peaceful society. And yes, we believe that there are many factors at play beyond criminal cops. We believe that racism, poverty, corporate interests and public union interests, and a society that is conditioned to blindly respect authority are all factors that have helped increase the aggression and criminality of so many cops. In fact, we believe that the problem is systematic; many well-meaning cops end up becoming the criminals they thought they would be fighting.

While the murder of unarmed people should be unacceptable in an advanced civilization, there are tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of crimes committed by police against the public each year. These crimes run the gamut from bad to horrible. These crimes include false arrests, assault, rape and framing people for crimes they didn’t commit, among others. With tens to hundreds of thousands of victims of police abuse each year, one might expect there to be tens of thousands of police officers sitting in prison; however, cops are able to brazenly commit crimes in front of witnesses and video cameras and get away with those crimes almost every single time. Sadly, innocent people don’t have such good luck. It is estimated that between 2.3% and 5% of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent, meaning there may be 100,000 innocent people in prison in America. Layer on top of that all of the people who are in prison for non-violent, victimless crimes (such as drug use) and it becomes apparent that justice is a joke.

While we encourage people to get mad over the senseless killings of unarmed people such as Eric Garner and Michael Brown, we also want people to get mad over the constant harassment, victimization and imprisonment of people who manage to escape a police encounter with their life still intact. These victims are everywhere to be seen, however they are often hiding their struggles because they live in a society where victims of police abuse are blamed for their misfortune.

We also encourage people to step forward and fight back whenever they can. It is a shame that more people don’t sue police and their municipalities when they are victimized. We understand, though. Filing civil suits is hard work and there are far too few civil lawyers willing to take cases against the police; particularly if there isn’t serious bodily injury. Further, if a victim doesn’t win their criminal case, most lawyers won’t even consider a civil suit.

John Pharr of Austin, TX is a recent victim of police abuse who has had the resources and courage to fight back. On August 14, 2012, APD officer Christopher Willie pulled over John Pharr under suspicion of driving while intoxicated. When Pharr didn’t obey Willie’s arbitrary orders quickly enough, Willie ordered Pharr out of the vehicle. Willie then threw Pharr on the ground, and landed a few punches on Pharr.

Fortunately, Pharr survived his encounter with this violent cop, and now has filed a civil suit against the cop and the city of Austin. In pursuing the civil suit, Pharr and his lawyer realized that not only did the cops commit multiple felony crimes by assaulting him, but they also perjured themselves in their affidavit. And while the cops will never be charged with their felony crimes, this civil suit might raise awareness with a few more people.

While we recognize that not everyone can file suit against the cops who abuse them, we hope more and more will take the path that Pharr has taken. Winning the fight against violent, criminal cops will not be easy, and there is no silver bullet. Voting won’t solve the problem, nor will filming police. Civil suits, won’t either. However, by using every peaceful means available to us, we can help drive the national debate further, put a human face on the issue of police abuse, and begin to make more and more people aware of the out of control police who have destroyed the lives of millions of Americans.

26 Jul
2014
Posted in: Press Releases
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Press Release: Federal Judge Upholds Right to Film Police

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane has upheld the Constitutional right to film police officers in the case of Antonio Buehler vs. the City of Austin, Austin Police Department, et. al.

Plaintiff Antonio Buehler, founder of Abrome Learning and the Peaceful Streets Project made headlines in 2012 after he photographed Austin Police Officer Patrick Oborski assaulting a woman in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, 2012. After Oborski noticed Buehler taking pictures, he assaulted Buehler, and filed a Felony Harassment of a Public Official charge against him for allegedly spitting in the officer’s face. A charge that carries a two to ten year prison sentence.

Facing felony charges, Buehler went to the public to ask for witnesses to step forward, and multiple witnesses did. A local entrepreneur and a local academician who were both in the 7-11 parking lot shared their stories with the local media, and a gentleman across the street took cell phone video of the incident. With witnesses and the video, coupled with Buehler’s background which included degrees from West Point and Stanford, prior service as an Airborne Ranger qualified Army officer, extensive volunteering and education work with children, his role as a designated driver that night, and no previous run-ins with law enforcement, the incident garnered significant media attention and forced the Austin Police Department to resort to a slander campaign against Buehler and the woman who was assaulted on New Year’s Day.

Buehler used his significant following of supporters to then launch the Peaceful Streets Project to encourage people to know their rights, stand up for the rights of one another and to hold police accountable for their actions. The Peaceful Streets Project handed out 100 free video cameras to residents of Austin to document police action, they organized hundreds of cop watch events, and they organized two police accountability summits with speakers such as the Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, and investigative journalist Radley Balko.

With the rise of the success of the Peaceful Streets Project, the Austin Police Department increased their harassment of Buehler and his supporters. APD arrested several Peaceful Streets Project volunteers for filming, including Buehler who they arrested three more times. Each time the police arrested a filmer, the Peaceful Streets Project would increase their efforts to document police actions.

Buehler’s charges remained outstanding for 15 months before a Grand Jury finally no-billed Buehler. However, they did indict him on four class C misdemeanor charges (failure to obey (3), interference with public duties (1)).

Buehler retained Attorney Daphne Silverman to file suit against the City of Austin, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, and Officers Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider, Adam Johnson and Justin Berry, on First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment Grounds, as well as violations of the Texas Constitution, conversion, false arrest and false imprisonment. The City of Austin then filed motions to dismiss the case which resulted in Judge Lane’s decision.

Judge Lane ruled against the city on almost every ground of the 12(b)(6) motion, with the exception of excessive force. Buehler’s civil rights suit against the City remains lively, as there is a recognized First Amendment right to film the police: “A private citizen has the right to assemble in a public forum, receive information on a matter of public concern – such as police officers performing their official duties – and to record that information for the purpose of conveying that information.”

Silverman said that she and her client were pleased with Lane’s detailed analysis in support of Buehler’s constitutional rights. “This ruling is a clear signal to law enforcement that the public can now photograph and videotape police officers so long as they don’t interfere with the officer’s duties,” she said.

Buehler said he hopes his case exposes corruption endemic within the Austin Police Department and in departments nationwide. “The extent to which APD is willing to go to try to victimize the victims of police abuse to protect cops who commit felony crimes is quite telling about the corrupt culture within the police department. I am the founder of an education company, a West Point, Stanford and Harvard graduate, the designated driver that night who tried to stand up for a woman being assaulted by the police, and there are a half dozen witnesses and two videos that all prove that the cops committed multiple crimes that night and that the woman they assaulted and I were both innocent victims. If the cops are willing to go after me like this, imagine what they’ll do to a young black or Hispanic male, a homeless person, or a person with prior drug offenses.”

The National Press Photographers Association in May filed an amicus brief in support of his case, which the organization says is not an isolated incident but “part of a nationwide phenomenon where police have interfered with citizens’ rights to photograph and video-record officers engaged in official business in public spaces.”

“NPPA follows these cases closely, and strives to ensure that the crucial role that journalists and citizens play in promoting discussions of public concern is not diminished,” the brief states.

While Buehler has not been convicted of any crimes levied against him by the Austin Police Department, the four misdemeanor charges are still pending, over two years later.