28 Mar
2014
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Press Release: Austin Police Accountability Groups Demand Change, Will Patrol During Texas Relays

The Peaceful Streets Project stands in solidarity with the Black Star Initiative and all other community groups that seek to hold police officials accountable through peaceful, direct action. Based on an obvious disdain for the people of Austin, a complete disregard for their civil liberties and continued criminal activity by members of the Austin Police Department, the Peaceful Streets Project cannot in good conscience give any consideration to the sorry excuses that the Austin Police make to justify their endless train of abuses against the people of Austin.

As mentioned in the press release by the Black Star Initiative that is copied below, two recent cases and a case that haunts us from last summer drive home the fact that the Austin Police Department stands in the way of justice, safety and security.

During SXSW, the Austin Police Department violently assaulted and kidnapped Margaret Woodbury, and in February the Austin Police Department violently assaulted and kidnapped Amanda Jo Stpehens for failing to identify after assaulting her as she was jogging near the University of Texas campus. Both of these incidents brought scrutiny on the Austin Police Department who typically prefers to target young black men, Hispanic men, and homeless people, but in these two cases targeted young blonde women. However, occasionally the Austin Police Department does something so heinous to someone in one of the aforementioned groups that people take notice, like the case of Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr.

Last summer, on July 26th, 2013, Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr. showed up at a bank that had been robbed earlier in the day. Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr. was a thin black man, and the man who robbed the bank was a heavyset white man. Despite obviously not being a suspect in the bank robbery, Detective Charles Kleinert decided to interrogate Mr. Jackson, who had a Constitutional right to end his conversation with Detective Kleinert because Jackson was never detained (nor was he suspected of committing any crime). However, when Jackson ceased communication and legally walked away, Kleinert carjacked someone who was driving nearby, and forced him to drive around looking for Jackson. When Kleinert saw Jackson walking down the street, he yelled at the driver to pull over, after which Kleinert chased Jackson underneath a bridge. Jackson was unarmed, and ended up being shot once to the back of the head/neck execution style, and was killed.

Now the people of Austin are waiting to see if Detective Charles Kleinert will be indicted for murdering Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr. Cops who commit felony crimes in Austin do not get indicted, and we don’t expect Kleinert to become the first. Even if he was indicted, we would anticipate that the District Attorney would play softball and throw the case, as the District Attorney has continually failed to seek justice against cops who commit crimes in Travis County, TX.

Because of these three cases, and numerous other cases where cops commit crimes in Austin and get away with them because of a criminal police department and a cowardly DA’s office, we recognize that it is up to us to hold the police accountable. That is why we stand in solidarity with the Black Star Initiative, and all those in the police accountability movement who want to stand up against criminal cops.

Respectfully,
Peaceful Streets Project

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IMMEDIATE PUBLIC RELEASE FROM THE BLACK STAR TEAM
After the brutal assault on Margaret Woodbury during SXSW, which followed the unnecessary assault on Amanda Jo Stephen on West Campus, and while we continue to wait to see if Detective Charles Kleinert will ever be indicted on the blatant murder of Larry Eugene Jackson Jr., the upstart Black Star Initiative will now enter into open direct actions with the Peaceful Streets Project and re-unite the police accountability movement. The first stage of our unity will be witnessed during Texas Relays. We will increase and intensify our presence downtown until we have reached desired results of the following grievances.

The first grievance is that Travis County indict Detective Charles Kleinert on murder charges. In addition we call for the City of Austin to reverse it’s conclusion to not reach a settlement with the family of Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr.
The second grievance is for the identification be made public of the officer who assaulted Margaret Woodbury. We then call for that officer to be terminated immediately from the police force and charged with aggravated assault. In addition we call for the identities of the other officers involved to be made public and then demoted to Metro security.

In addition I now call off recent open dialogue and upcoming “ride along” with APD to establish an open line of mutual understanding and respect. No understanding can ever be reached with an institution who publicly, openly supports murder and assault of people of our community. No dialogue can be exchanged with that of which prefers physical violence over speech. This community is not your play ground

As we are accepting of the reality that these grievances not be met, we are preparing to launch an all out campaign against APD similar to that of Wagner Watch. This campaign will be launched in June if APD, the City of Austin and the District Attorney’s Office do not meet the grievances of the community.

Feel now for your sins. Leave now for our sake.

Forever everyones,
Joshua Pineda of the Black Star Initiative

27 Mar
2014
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Justice for Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., and other victims of police crimes will come through community, not grand juries

This is Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr. He, like other black men in Austin, TX came across the wrong cop at the wrong time. Despite having not committed any crime on July 26, 2013, the 32 year old father of three was chased under a bridge by Austin Police Department Detective Charles Kleinert, and shot once in the back of the head/neck, execution style. Although he was innocent, posed no threat to anyone and was not even suspected of committing a crime, the murder at the hands of another Austin cop resulted in no punishment or arrest of the criminal cop. Detective Kleinert was allowed to retire, and the police department and the Austin Police Association rallied behind him and defended his actions.

This coming week the Grand Jury will likely make a determination on whether they should true bill him or no bill him for murder. Since I’ve moved to Austin, a Grand Jury has never indicted a cop in Austin for committing felony crimes. In my case there were a half dozen witnesses, two videos and audio evidence that proves that Officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider committed felony crimes against me and another person. The Grand Jury found a way to indict only me and the other victim. I don’t expect Kleinert to be indicted, and I don’t expect the DA to try to get him convicted, even if the Grand Jury were to indict a violent criminal cop for the first time.

Justice will have to come through a change in society wherein we no longer tolerate violent, criminal cops. We must make life a living hell for these coward cops, we must shame, call out and ostracize these degenerates. We must rally behind the victims. We must force the rest of the cops to become “good” cops who no longer stand with criminal cops, but instead begin to arrest or kill the criminal cops who assault members of the public. It will happen, one day. We need to make that day come sooner rather than later, for the millions of Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr.’s that are bound to follow.

Justice for Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., and all the victims of criminal police. #Justice4LEJJr

~ Antonio Buehler

24 Mar
2014
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Encouraging Bystander Empathy

One corollary of our efforts to drive a change in culture through direct action tactics is an increase in bystander empathy, and ultimately, action. Bystander empathy with regards to police abuse has posed a challenge because of the inherent fear that people rightfully feel when confronted by a police officer. The Peaceful Streets Project was launched because Antonio Buehler was assaulted and framed because he tried to get two police officers to stop assaulting a woman who had not committed any crime, and who had not posed any public safety threat. If Antonio did not stand up for the woman who was being abused, he never would have been arrested. Such tactics by police can have a chilling effect on the willingness of people to stand up for others. However, Antonio’s case was unique in that another random bystander took video of Antonio being assaulted by the police, and that helped give him the evidence that would allow him to fight and beat a felony charge.

The Peaceful Streets Project wants to empower tens of thousands of volunteers to stand up for one another as opposed to remaining silent when they see police abuse. In order to do that we need to do more than help people find the courage to speak up when they see abuse; we need to encourage bystander empathy. One of the shortcomings of our society is that we more often than not collectively empathize and side with police officers as opposed to the people they interact with, as we buy into the notion that police officers are automatic heroes who risk their lives to protect us from criminals, while those they arrest or harm are assumed to be those dangerous criminals. In addition, in our society certain demographics of people are more easily dismissed or forgotten when they become the victims of police abuse and violence than others.

By sharing stories of abuse through the Police Abuse Complaint Departments, building communities of diverse people, and bringing people together to engage in direct action, the Peaceful Streets Project plans to shift that collective empathy from police officers to the victims of police abuse, or at least to a neutral position. This will help people overcome their apathy so that they will stand up for those they may not normally identify with, which will in turn help other people to do the same. Additionally, we hope that this mentality bleeds into courtrooms so that suspects may one day be able to realize the stated ideal that we are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, as opposed to a jury assuming one is guilty and automatically believing the testimony of police officers who may be the real criminals.

21 Mar
2014
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Does the Peaceful Streets Project Work With or Against Law Enforcement?

The Peaceful Streets Project works with and supports many victims of police abuse and violence, and many of the communities we are trying to empower are comprised of high numbers of victims of police abuse and violence. As such, the Peaceful Streets Project seeks to ensure a safe and secure environment for these victims by refusing to allow law enforcement agencies, officials or their representatives from participating in Peaceful Streets Project actions or events. Further, the Peaceful Streets Project will ensure the trust of the victims of police abuse by not working with or supporting any coalitions involving law enforcement agencies, officials or their representatives acting in their official capacity. While we acknowledge there may be some potential benefits to working with law enforcement on select initiatives, we are not willing to risk the safety or psychological security of those we are trying to serve.

Further, we made the strategic decision to focus on direct action tactics as opposed to political action for two primary reasons. First, we felt that we could best influence culture by working directly within communities, as opposed to trying to fix or reform the system (which could include working with law enforcement). Second, we felt that there were plenty of organizations that were already working with law enforcement to try to reduce the incidence of police abuse and criminality, and that replicating their efforts would be a poor use of resources.

The Peaceful Streets Projects attempts to avoid taking a position that is either for law enforcement or against law enforcement. We actively oppose police officers who abuse their authority and commit crimes against the public, and given the rate of such crimes we can easily spend all of our time working against those elements of law enforcement. At the same time, we will eagerly provide moral support for and rally behind those police officers who have the courage to stand up to the thin blue line (the fraternity of police officers) and hold police officers who commit crimes accountable for their actions.

3 Mar
2014
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Updated Cop Watch Code of Conduct

We have updated our cop watch guidelines to better reflect our nation-wide focus to combat police abuse and our desire to improve the level of our rhetoric when interacting with police officers. Please click on this Cop Watch Code of Conduct for a pdf that you can print out and share with volunteers at each cop watch event.

23 Feb
2014
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Echoing Green Fellowship Semifinalist

The Peaceful Streets Project has been named a semifinalist for the 2014 Echoing Green Foundation Fellowship. This year, the Echoing Green Foundation received 2,726 applications for the 2014 Echoing Green Fellowships. Of these initial submissions, only the top 15% have been named Semifinalists. The 444 Semi-Finalists for Echoing Green Fellowships span the globe, with breakthrough ideas and the entrepreneurial drive to disrupt the status quo.

Since their founding in 1987, Echoing Green has provided nearly 600 promising social entrepreneurs working in over forty countries with $33 million in start-up funding, customized support services, and access to our global network of champions. These social innovators have gone on to launch, and now lead, some of today’s most important social enterprises throughout the world.

The Peaceful Streets Project looks forward to being able to share our vision of a society free of state-sponsored institutionalized violence with this influential group of social entrepreneurs and donors.

13 Jan
2014
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Fundraiser Launched for Antonio Buehler’s Civil Suit Against Austin Police Department. #StandWithAntonio

In January of 2012, Antonio Buehler took a stand against the Austin Police Department while they brutally arrested a young woman. After he took a stand, he endured harassment by the police. He has been arrested numerous times trying to hold the police accountable, and currently has one conviction on appeal and five other charges outstanding. In an attempt to force the Austin Police Department to change their bully tactics he has filed a civil suit against APD, to include Police Chief Art Acevedo, Officers Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider, Justin Berry and SGT Adam Johnson. Please support him in his search for justice. Let’s put an end to police abuse. Please consider donating today: https://t.co/P8AyBBTB5q

All donations go directly to Silverman Law Group, the law firm that is representing Antonio. Donated fees will go toward court fees, depositions and expert testimony.

Please use the following hash tag when posting on facebook or twitter: #StandWithAntonio

8 Jan
2014
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Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project Founder Sues Austin Police Department For Violation of Civil Rights

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project Founder Sues Austin Police Department For Violation of Civil Rights

Austin, TX – On December 31, 2013, Antonio Buehler filed suit against the City of Austin, Chief of Police Art Acevedo as well as officers Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider, Justin Berry, and Adam Johnson.

The lawsuit alleges that APD officers violated Mr. Buehler’s right to freedom of speech as well as his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure when they unjustly arrested him and charged him with crimes he did not commit for recording their conduct. The lawsuit alleges that the City and the police chief are liable, because they failed to establish a policy to guide officers when people record their conduct, failed to train and supervise the officers and ratified the officers conduct by failing to remedy the constitutional violations.

“I could not stand silent and watch a brutal attack on an innocent woman, and when I saw how officers reacted to my effort to stop their violence, I knew I had to take action to prevent this from happening again,” Antonio Buehler said. “I learned that people were being arrested across the country for filming police, and I decided I had to file suit in order to stop the abuse of people who record the conduct of police officers in the hope of ending police brutality.”

Daphne Pattison Silverman, Counsel for Mr. Buehler stated that she is honored to represent a Champion of constitutional rights and civil liberties. “It is the responsibility of lawyers to champion those who champion civil rights, social justice and equality for all humanity. Mr. Buehler and I both took an oath in the United States military to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Mr. Buehler has honored his oath with action.”

This lawsuit is necessary for transparency and accountability in government. Mr. Buehler and Ms. Silverman hope that the lawsuit will result in clear policies, effective training, and a cultural shift in the police department to reflect a desire to respect the people and the law and to prove their respect by ending a fear of accountability.

Please contact the following for information:

Daphne Pattison Silverman
Silverman Law Group
501 North IH-35
Austin, Texas. 78702
512-485-3003

18 Nov
2013
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Peaceful Streets Project & Culture Change in Austin by Richard Boland

In the early days of the Peaceful Streets Project, the easiest way to film Austin Police misconduct was to go to 6th Street (Austin’s Entertainment District) on the weekends, where we filmed multiple instances of officers being arrogant and brutal. In particular, during the weekend of the Formula One races a year ago, I, along with Lynn Foster and Harold Grey, filmed Austin Police officers tackling a tourist, and after he was held down on the ground, punching him in the rib cage in an apparent attempt to break his ribs. His crime: Not responding to their commands quickly enough, even though he apparently didn’t speak English.

This past weekend, we again filmed police on 6th street while the Formula One race fans were in town, but we started to notice a change: APD officers are becoming more professional and polite to the crowds. Even when arrests are made, they are usually with a minimum of force. This weekend, and actually over the last few months, I have not seen guns drawn, or pepper spray or Tazers used at all. This isn’t to say that they are perfect; I filmed one instance on Saturday, where our old “friend,” Cpl. Quint Sebek knocked a homeless person flat on the ground, but we also filmed even the Police Equestrian Team showing some discretion and restraint dealing with a passed-out drunk, something they would not have done in the past, even with cameras pointed at them. Friday night’s filming was particularly boring (which is actually a good thing). We noticed APD Assistant Chief Stephen Deaton supervising the officers, who were particularly on their best behavior with him there. We note with great pleasure that trigger-happy officers Nathan Wagner and Thomas Griffin have apparently been re-assigned away from the crowds on 6th street.

The Peaceful Streets Project was founded with the goal of changing the culture, both of the Police, and the Citizens. While I still think that we have a long way to go, it is gratifying to see some visible progress. The Austin Police ARE changing, and as they become more polite and professional, the crowds on 6th street are actually better-behaved, not worse. We believe that we are starting to hold accountable those in the APD who do not follow their own rules, as well as giving a voice and an opportunity for those who always wanted to do their job properly. In addition, the average citizen is realizing not only the legality, but the necessity of filming the police and creating a record of their actions. Aside from the Peaceful Streets film team, the were also people from the Black Star Initiative, and Austin Streets, two other Police Accountability organizations, filming on 6th street this weekend, as well as ordinary citizens filming with their cell phones every time an incident with the police happened.

I would like to thank everybody who has ever been out on a copwatch with us, and all of our members, past and present. The work we have done, the hardships we have endured, the risks that we have taken, and for several of our members, the nights spent in jail, are all starting to pay off. I particularly wish to thank Antonio Buehler, and everyone involved in actually starting the Peaceful Streets Project, when I was too skeptical that we could make even the change that I see today.

Our work is not yet finished, but it is gratifying to see as much progress as I do. Thanks again, everyone!

15 Nov
2013
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Let’s Make December a Month of Direct Action

The Peaceful Streets Project has had some fabulous successes since launching in mid-2012. We’ve hosted scores of cop watch events, Police Abuse Complaint Departments and Know Your Rights Trainings. We’ve held two national Police Accountability Summits that have drawn in activists from around the country. We’ve launched chapters in 15 cities and towns across the country. And we’ve supported and worked with allies such as Cop Block and We CopWatch in an ongoing effort by many to rein in the out of control cops that destroy the lives of so many peaceful people every single day in every corner of the United States (and abroad).

The success of the Peaceful Streets Projects, that we have seen manifest itself through a marked change in behavior of the police in Austin (TX) and other PSP cities, as well as a change in the rhetoric of people who comment on issues related to police abuse and accountability, continues to stem from the direct action tactics of our members. From protesting in Houston, to warning motorists of checkpoints in Manchester (NH), to writing cops tickets in New York City, to cop watching in Defiance (OH) and Sandusky (OH), the efforts of those who are willing to sacrifice their time to protect and serve the community without resorting to violence has had a profound impact on the people in the communities we serve as well as the broader public who is waking up to the pandemic of police crimes.

As the Peaceful Streets Project prepares to evolve over the next year (stay tuned for updates) in an effort to maximize our skills and resources, we must continue to stay engaged in the direct action that makes a difference for those who encounter aggressive police every day. Let’s make December a month of direct action! Please organize your local chapters to get involved in the local community by cop watching, holding a Know Your Rights Training, providing a platform for people to tell their stories of abuse or protesting out of control cops. And please feel free to share your planned events with us so we can advertise them on our facebook and twitter pages!

Keep up the great work! Those of you who are willing to donate your time to help protect those in your communities from aggressive, violent and criminal cops are truly protecting and serving!