The Peaceful Streets Project and her members have long been targets of the criminal cops of the Austin Police Department. Ever since the illegal arrest of founder Antonio Buehler on New Year’s Day 2012, the Austin Police Department, with the help and support of prosecutors, have attempted to bring Buehler and the Peaceful Streets Project down. Buehler has been arrested a half dozen times, while other members of the Peaceful Streets Project have been arrested an additional half dozen times — all for daring to try to hold the police accountable. Fortunately for the Peaceful Streets Project, we have had good representation for each bogus charge brought forth, and we have been cleared of all charges.
Unfortunately for us, the police have gone much further than just arresting us on the streets. For example, they had previously tried to have us labeled as domestic extremist threats, they have lobbied the District Attorney to attempt to indict us on trumped up felony charges, and they continue to slander us in the media. And these actions haven’t been led by a few “bad apples” in the department–they have been directed and led by the Hubert Arturo “Art” Acevedo, the Chief of Police.
Most recently, after the illegal arrest of Antonio Buehler and Mike Smith on August 2, 2015, Hubert Acevedo and his minions floated the lie that Buehler had gotten in the officers’ faces which would supposedly give the cops enough probable cause to arrest Buehler for Interference with Public Duties.
However, there are two problems with such an assertion. First, all the video evidence that exists proves that the cops lied. Buehler never got in the cops’ faces. Instead, Buehler stood still as the police officers repeatedly approached him, violating his space, and intimidating and threatening him for exercising his First Amendment rights. In all, there are a half dozen videos that were taken by the Peaceful Streets Project, and HALO video and cell video taken by the Austin Police Department that proves that the cops lied.
Second, irrespective of guilt or innocence, the Chief of Police nor any other police officer should never comment publicly in a manner which could suggest guilt against a criminal defendant. On August 29, 2015, Hubert Acevedo violated basic decency and professional standards in sending out a tweet which suggested that Buehler gets in the faces of police officers when filming them. Through his unprofessional actions, Hubert Acevedo brought discredit to an already corrupt department and profession.
Buehler filed the official complaint with the Office of the Police Monitor (OPM) on January 20, 2016. As with all complaints, we fully expect this one to be papered over. We post the contents of the complaint below, publicly, as a service to the people who the system does not represent. We will provide an update when Hubert Acevedo or one of his minions determines that he did not violate policy.
Narrative-description of what happened:
I am a member of the Peaceful Streets Project. We are a grassroots community activist organization that attempts to change culture so that police do not abuse people or commit crimes, and so that members of the public will hold the police accountable. One of our primary activities as an organization is filming the police (“cop watch”) while they are performing their duties in public. On the night of August 1, 2015, I joined a group of Peaceful Streets Project volunteers downtown to cop watch in the Sixth Street area. During that cop watch, I was harassed on multiple occasions for filming the police, and ultimately illegally arrested for exercising my First Amendment rights.
More specifically, I was arrested by SGT Randy Dear, Officer Aljoe Garibay, and other police officers for Interference with Public Duties while I legally stood in a public street filming the police. SGT Dear had approached me in the moments leading up to the arrest, and at previous times in the night, getting so close that he placed his face in front of my camera. At no point in any of my interactions with SGT Dear did I ever move my body or my arm toward him to place a camera in his face. Every single time that my camera was in close proximity to his face he had moved his body and face toward my stationary or retreating camera.
In the days following the arrest we released multiple videos that proved that the claims made by Officer Aljoe Garibay in the probable cause affidavit, and by the other officers in their supplementary reports, were abject lies. It is apparent to even the most inattentive person that the only reason why a camera was ever in close proximity to SGT Dear or any other police officer’s face was because they approached me and stuck their face in my camera. I will be able to transfer those videos to a hard drive during my interview with IA/OPM. Furthermore, the HALO cameras that the Austin Police operates and controls also showed that the only time that my camera ever got close to any police officer’s face was when the police officer approached me while I stood my ground.
Despite having irrefutable evidence that I was not guilty of any crime, that the arrest was illegal, and that the affidavits and statements written against me were filled with lies, Hubert Acevedo chose to use his position as Chief of Police to mischaracterize my actions while there were pending criminal charges against me. On August 29, 2015, he reposted on Twitter a screenshot of a Peaceful Streets Project Facebook post I had authored. My initial post was intended to highlight the manner in which police and their supporters often slander the dead immediately after an officer involved shooting, and it also highlighted the hypocrisy of many police officers and their supporters who get offended at public information office tactics when used against police officers. In his tweet, Hubert Acevedo added, “This is how mind of so-called peaceful activist works & why police officers don’t want him inches from their face.”
My complaint(s) is/are:
1. Hubert Acevedo violated APD Policies 301.1, 301.2 by using his position and reach to perpetuate false criminal allegations against me. This was discriminatory in nature because he does not use social media to suggest other criminal defendants are guilty of the crimes they are charged with, but has repeatedly targeted me in his social media posts.
2. Through his actions, Hubert Acevedo violated APD Policy 301.3, further eroding APD’s standing with the community.
3. Hubert Acevedo violated APD Policy 455.5(b)1 by using Twitter to make comments suggesting that I was guilty of the fraudulent charges levied against me on August 2, 2015. At the time he made these comments, the charges were still pending against me.
4. Hubert Acevedo violated APD Policy 900.3.1 by perpetuating the lie that I get within inches of police officers’ faces. If Hubert claims that he was ignorant of the ample evidence that proves that I wasn’t getting within inches of officers’ faces then he is either lying or profoundly incompetent.
5. Hubert Acevedo also violated APD policy 900.3.2. Hubert’s position as Chief coupled with his misuse of social media to attack the character of someone who was wrongfully arrested by his police officers is in every way a despicable act. Even if I were legally arrested, which I wasn’t, it would have still been improper for him to mischaracterize my actions in a way that could potentially influence a jury pool.
This is a formal complaint. This incident presents policy violations that warrant closer examination to identify, address and correct officer conduct. I request that Anthony Hipolito not be staffed on this complaint given his prior role misleading the media regarding my now infamous New Year’s Day 2012 arrest.
We have had a most remarkable several months to end 2015 and are thrilled to go into 2016 with tremendous momentum. This will be our best year ever – guaranteed.
To recap, we ratcheted up our cop watch actions in late summer. As we continued to legally cop watch to bear witness to police activity, deter police from abusing people, and to empower others to stand up for their community members, we found certain members of the Austin Police Department were eager to threaten us (e.g., SGT Randy Dear, SGT Adam Johnson, Ofc Dawn Leonard) or assault us (e.g., CPL Quint Sebek, Ofc Zachary Baldridge).
On August 2nd SGT Randy Dear, CPL Quint Sebek, and Ofc Aljoe Garibay assaulted and illegally arrested Antonio Buehler and Mike Bluehair (from Film The Police Portland) on Sixth Street in Austin. The arrest affidavits that were filed were filled with lies and were easily refuted by the numerous videos that the members of the Peaceful Streets Project took. Unsurprisingly, prosecutors dropped the charges against Buehler and Bluehair. The police have arrested Buehler and other members of the Peaceful Streets Project nearly a dozen times, but they have failed to secure a single conviction against us. Sadly, we will continue to get arrested because the police are never held accountable for their crimes. But this is a long fight, and we will eventually win. Until then, we will continue to shame these cops in the most public ways possible. We wrote up a detailed blog post detailing how the arrest affidavits were filled with lies, coupled with videos of the incident.
In November Playboy Magazine featured a story on copwatching, and Antonio Buehler and the Peaceful Streets Project opened and closed the story. The author Frank Owen beautifully laid out some of the various approaches to cop watch and gave context to the August 2nd arrest that local media is apparently afraid to touch upon. This, coupled with endless puff pieces for the Austin Police by local media, made us realize that there is potentially much more value to working with national media or outlets with broad reach outside of Austin than working with local stations who seem to take their marching orders from APD. Since then, we have worked with two documentary series that will feature Peaceful Streets Project in upcoming episodes, and we are working with a documentary crew that will be following us for at least the next year. Stay tuned for updates!
With our increased actions we have also received support from donors to upgrade our cop watch capabilities. Thanks to generous donations we have been able to purchase 8 camcorders, 3 actions cameras, a livestream camera, a professional still camera, and a quadcopter, along with various other technologies that assist us in our work. The quality of our cop watch videos has really shot up, and we have already been able to provide high quality raw video to several victims of Austin Police so they can use it in their criminal defense and potentially in any future civil suits against the City of Austin and the criminal cops. We could certainly use more donations as we have some exciting plans for 2016, so please consider donating if you have the capacity and interest in doing so. We have a rally campaign set up, and you can find additional ways to donate on our webpage. Additionally, you can always purchase us something off of our Amazon.com wish list.
In December, six members of the Peaceful Streets Project had the great privilege of going to St. Louis to train with WeCopwatch. WeCopwatch had been cop watching for years before PSP formed, and in the past year and a half they have helped set up cop watch organizations in several cities. Of note, they helped set up the Canfield Watchmen in Ferguson after the Michael Brown killing, and WeCopwatch Baltimore after the Freddie Gray killing. While in St. Louis we were able to engage in joint training and cop watch with WeCopwatch as their first official Cop Watch College class. We also had the opportunity to go into Ferguson to rebuild a memorial in the spot where Michael Brown was murdered by Officer Darren Wilson. Although the memorial was taken down the next day, the experience was sobering, humbling, and inspiring. The Canfield Watchmen kicked the police out of the Canfield Green Apartments, showing us it can be done, and now WeCopwatch is building a central training space down the road for cop watchers nationwide.
In the coming year we are elevating our direct actions to the next level. The frequency of our cop watching has already risen, and we will continue to put more cameras on the street on a weekly basis. We will be hosting several Know Your Rights trainings, and we are looking for more opportunities to do so. We will also be collecting and analyzing data to identify improved ways of exposing police crime. We will also continue to file police abuse complaints and file civil rights suits, although we recognize that the system is a woefully inept way of trying to achieve justice – we will do it for documentation and discovery purposes. Also, we plan to host WeCopwatch in Austin in return for their hosting us in St. Louis.
You can get involved with the Peaceful Streets Project! We are holding public monthly meetings at Bennu Cofffehouse in E. Austin at 8p on the first Wednesday of each month. Our first monthly meeting for 2016 was held this Wednesday. We are holding public cop watches on the fourth Saturday of each month, as well. Our public cop watch events will initially meet at Bennu Coffehouse, as well, but at 9p. We also have ample volunteer opportunities outside of cop watch for those who don’t want to risk getting arrested. Come to a meeting to discuss! And once again, you can always donate to help us empower our volunteers to drive change in the streets.
Peaceful Streets Project founder files complaint against cop who interfered with cop watch and assaulted him
The Peaceful Streets Project was founded by Antonio Buehler in response to the the Austin Police Department cover up of the crimes committed against him and another person by Officers Patrick Oborski #4736 and Robert Snider #6846 on January 1, 2012, as well as numerous other cases of police abuse, corruption, crime, and violence that were uncovered in the months following the New Year’s Day incident.
Buehler and several other members of the Peaceful Streets Project initially tried to use the avenues provided to them by the system to get justice through formal complaints, pleas for criminal charges, and civil suits. In each instance, despite PSP members’ innocence, compelling evidence of cop misconduct and crime, and evidence of lies and perjured documents by the offending police officers and their superiors, the cops were not only cleared of criminal wrongdoing, they were neither fired nor disciplined for their misdeeds. In fact, while politicians and the police used the media to slander PSP members, some of the cops were given awards in spite of their criminal conduct.
In the face of such gross injustice (not to diminish the even greater injustice of Austin cops raping and murdering people), which required not only the support of the entire police chain of command, but also the support of local politicians and prosecutors, the members of the Peaceful Streets Project quickly came to realize that the system would not and will never police itself. Nor does the system have any interest in reforming itself from violent institutions that expend enormous resources to prey upon the marginalized and oppressed into peaceful institutions that promote accountability and justice while also ensuring that their actions do not further harm the marginalized and oppressed.
The Peaceful Streets Project instead is focused on engaging in direct action tactics that will draw a dedicated cadre of activists who will ultimately empower communities to engage in larger scale, coordinated actions that will create alternatives to and ultimate make obsolete the violent status quo known as the criminal justice system.
While our focus is on imagining, planning and engaging in radical direct actions, some of us have decided that we will once again utilize certain establishment approved processes when appropriate. We do so knowing that these processes are meant to provide the veneer of accountability while fooling the populace into believing they have a say in how the system is operated. We do not expect our actions to actually result in police officers or other officials being disciplined, fired, arrested, or tried for their corruption and crimes. We simply plan to use these processes to highlight the absurdity that is the system by formally documented the efforts that police, prosecutors, judges, politicians, and the media will go through to prevent justice from prevailing. While the system may eventually sacrifice a cop to the process in order to make the public believe that sometimes the system works, those who are paying attention will recognize that far more often than not the worst criminal cops are the ones who are most protected by the system.
We will post some of those efforts on this webpage. The first attempt is a formal complaint that Antonio Buehler has filed against Officer Zachary Scott Baldridge #7042 for his actions on the night of June 13, 2015. Buehler was with a team of Peaceful Streets Project copwatchers that same evening in downtown Austin. When the Peaceful Streets Project team observed a disturbance and policing surrounding a young man, the PSP team moved in to film the incident. Baldridge zeroed in on Buehler and blocked his view. Each time Buehler tried to move to a different position to film the incident, Baldridge moved to place his head and body in front of Buehler’s camera. Eventually, Baldridge shoved Buehler when he allowed Baldridge to block his view, which constitutes assault.
The video to that incident is embedded in this post, and the formal complaint can be found here: 15.12.02 Baldridge Complaint Affidavit for upload. Consider this an evolution of our Police Abuse Complaint Department. Through the video and the complaint, it should become quite apparent that Baldridge (and probably SGT Randy Dear #4422) broke both Austin Police Department policy and Texas state law. We will provide you follow ups on the progress and outcomes of the so-called disciplinary and criminal processes that are supposed to take place in the aftermath of documenting these policy violations and cop crimes. Don’t hold your breath that justice will be served — for that we need you to get involved in Peaceful Streets Project actions.
UPDATE 1: On December 3, 2015, we were informed that no use of force report was filed. That means at a minimum that Officer Zachary Baldridge failed to file a required report, and the SGT Randy Dear failed in his duty to ensure the report was filed.
UPDATE 2: On February 4, 2016, we were informed that the case was not being submitted to SIU for an investigation into criminal action by Officer Zachary Baldridge. So that means that either cops are allowed to assault cop watchers, or that shoving someone in the chest in not assault. It would be interesting to find out if the Austin Police Department is willing to allow people to shove their coward cops in the chest.
Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler was scheduled to sit on a Q&A Panel with Scott Christopherson, the producer of the documentary Peace Officer, following the Austin “premier” of the film, tomorrow evening. Within hours of the Peaceful Streets Project posting a Facebook event about the documentary, the public relations firm that contacted Buehler to sit on the panel sent him an email telling him that the Q&A Panel was cancelled. (If you purchased tickets and want a refund scroll down to the final paragraph)
When Buehler finally got the PR rep on the phone the next day, she told him that the producers of the movie got cold feet because they had received an email from someone who indicated that they were offended by the views of Buehler, and therefore the producers chose to remove him from the panel (but not cancel the Q&A as she claimed the day before). However, when Buehler talked to the producers of the film, they claimed that they had nothing to do with the change, and that the PR company was the one who made that decision.
Unable to get a straight answer from the PR company and/or the producer, we are left to assume that once again the police have exerted external pressure on someone to prevent us from sharing our message of police accountability, even though the police were able to use the same film at the same venue in advance of the premier to push the lie that Austin Police Department doesn’t use their SWAT team to terrorize and kill people. In the past, the police (who are led by media savvy but ethically corrupt Police Chief Hubert “Art” Acevedo) have pressured three venues to cancel Peaceful Streets Project events, to include Huston-Tillotson University after we paid a security deposit. Additionally, they have pressured local media, to include the Austin American-Statesman and Jeff Ward of the local radio station KLBJ, to stop giving us a voice.
One might ask themselves, why would people allow the police to dictate who can appear at their events, who can host events at their establishments, and who they can give a voice to using their platforms? The answer is that the police state is quite influential and powerful, particularly at the local level.
First, the police are a violent gang of thugs who pick and choose which people they abuse the most. If you’re a person of color, homeless, mentally ill, female, or happen to look or dress the “wrong” way, you are much more likely to be abused than people in other segments of society. Much of society recognizes this, and they don’t want to find themselves in the sights of criminal police.
Second, the police provide subsidized security services for corporations. The notion that the police have a duty to protect you has been disproven by the Supreme Court (Warren v. District of Columbia). Sure, police may murder people at traffic stops or turn their backs on someone who is bleeding out in the poor part of town, but they will eagerly protect private business. Business owners are well aware of the benefits of relying on the police to protect their property instead of having to pay private security. It reduces their expenses, padding their profits, and it removes them from liability should the security (police officers) violently beat or kill someone. Like dealing with the mafia, it often pays to stay on the good side of police who may or may not be able to ensure the protection of your business.
Third, in our backward society, there are benefits to being on the good side of the police. If you’re a business owner, you may get taxpayer subsidized customers such as police conferences held at your establishment, paid marketing such as police recruitment advertisements in your newspaper, or special contracts such as a monopoly on towing services. If you’re media, you even get access to the Chief of Police for interviews. And if you’re really friendly with the Chief, he may even be willing to get you out of jail and have your DWI charges dismissed. Of course if you cross the police, you may get cut off from accessing the police department, which may give you a competitive disadvantage (which may force you to fire someone, ruining their life, and leading them to go to New York to commit suicide outside of the national corporate headquarters).
Because the police are a terrorist gang of cowardly criminals, we understand why so few people are willing to stand up to them. After all, we see how they viciously go after the victims of police abuse, with no repercussions because other cops, prosecutors, and politicians refuse to hold them accountable for their crimes. This is why it is essential that we continue to work to undermine the police state, and to help people come to the realization that we can evolve as a society, and live in peace with one another without paying the worst of society to put on a badge and a gun so that they can commit their crimes behind the protection of qualified immunity.
For those who had planned to attend the “premiere” of Peace Officer, you can email Kayla Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide her with your row number, seat numbers and telephone number. She will have someone from Alamo contact you and ask you for the name on your credit card, your credit card number, and the expiration date on the card in order to cancel the charge. You can also call the following number to have your refund processed: 512-861-7040, box office press 4. You must contact them before 7:00 pm on Friday, October 9th in order to get a refund. In place of the film and panel, we will be meeting at 8:00 pm at the Shake Shack for dinner and camaraderie in advance of our Friday night cop watch. I hope you can join us. All power to all the people! #ACAB
Tonight (Monday) at 7:30p, a screening of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution will be played at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre at 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin. Tickets are still available. The weblink to purchase tickets is: http://www.austinfilm.org/page.aspx?pid=3040&cgid=5&ceid=4811&cerid=0&cdt=10%2f5%2f2015. For those who don’t know, the Black Panther Party was the original cop watch group. In response to racist policing and police brutality, the Black Panther Party began by going out and observing the police interacting with the public. They didn’t have cameras back then, but they were armed with law books and rifles.
And on Friday at 7p, at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, there will be a showing of Peace Officer with a Q&A afterward featuring Scott Christopherson and Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler. Peace Officer won multiple awards this past year at various film festivals, including two at SXSW. There are only six seats remaining so purchase your tickets, today: https://drafthouse.com/movies/peace-officer-w-director-scott-christopherson/austin. There will be other showings if you can’t make the 7p showing, but no other Q&A panels.
Also, we are still looking for volunteers who would like to lead or assist on any of the following efforts we are currently engaged in:
- Cop watch
- Know Your Rights trainings
- Police Abuse Complaint Department
- Research (e.g., historical, public information requests)
- Writing (e.g., blog posts, OpEds)
- Video editing
Please reach out if you would like to engage in any of the above activities.
Hopefully we will see you at these two documentaries!
On September 21, 2012, the Peaceful Streets Project came across a DWI stop on West 6th Street in Austin, TX, during a standard roving cop watch patrol. As you can see in both video that are embedded, the Peaceful Streets Project cop watchers (Antonio Buehler and Sarah Dickerson) quietly approach to film the interaction between the police officer and the suspect, while the police officer is still in the vehicle. That police officer is Patrick Oborski, the cop whose illegal arrest of Antonio Buehler on New Year’s Day 2012 helped spur the formation of the Peaceful Streets ProjectBy every measure of the law, none of the Peaceful Streets Project cop watchers were interfering with the stop. They were far enough from the stop that they were not impeding the investigation. Oborski calls out Antonio Buehler by name, and tells him to back up several times, to which Buehler responds by asking “how far” he has to move back. Oborski then said, “back up until I tell you to stop, back up.” Buehler backs up, then asks Oborski once again how far he needs to move back, but Oborski doesn’t respond.
SGT Adam Johnson then come on the scene. Johnson is Oborski’s supervisor who helped cover up the crimes of Oborski (and Officer Robert Snider) on January 1, 2012.
Johnson then begins to order Buehler and Dickerson to go in the opposite direction that Oborski ordered Buehler to go. Johnson told Buehler and Dickerson to go to the other end the block, on the other side of Oborski, which would have required them to approach Oborski, walk within feet of him in order to pass him and the suspect, and then continue on to the end of the block.
Buehler, recognizing the danger in walking toward the police officer who had previously illegally arrested him, and feeling that it was a trap, repeatedly asked Johnson why he was giving him such an absurd order, how far he needed to move back to not be “interfering,” and reminded Johnson how he could not be interfering at such a distance.
Despite constantly moving back while asking how much further he would have to move back, Buehler was ultimately illegally arrested by Johnson after Buehler asked Johnson why he was being a “bully.”
Johnson then arrested Dickerson who was further away from the stop than Buehler the entire time.
Despite having criminal charges hanging over their heads, the Austin Police Department and city attorneys prevented Buehler, Dickerson, or their lawyers from reviewing the video or retrieving the cameras the police confiscated from them for two years. The Austin Police Department and the city apparently didn’t want the world to see how their cops clearly targeted cop watchers and violated their civil rights by illegally arresting them for filming the police. It wasn’t until a judge ordered the City of Austin to turn over the cameras that Buehler and his legal team were able to see these video.
Johnson was never disciplined or charged for his violation of Buehler and Dickerson’s civil rights, or his crimes on January 1, 2012. Johnson was, however, celebrated for irresponsibly shooting and killing a mentally ill man with his service pistol on Thanksgiving of 2014, while holding horse reins in one hand, toward a major interstate from a distance of about 300′.
Oborski, likewise, was never disciplined or charged for his violation of Buehler and a San Antonio woman’s civil rights on January 1, 2012. Oborski was, however, awarded the department’s first ever Jaime Padron Hero Award after every cop in Austin found out that Oborski was caught on tape abusing a woman, assaulting Buehler, and then trying to frame him with a felony crime that he did not commit.
Austin Police Department won’t discipline, fire, or arrest cops who are caught on camera committing crimes, but they’ll celebrate cops when they irresponsibly kill people.
On August 2nd, I was arrested while filming police officers downtown. It marked the fifth time that I have been wrongfully arrested by the Austin Police Department in retaliation for exercising my constitutional right to film the police in an attempt to hold them accountable. Fortunately for me, I do not have to rely on police video to ensure that I am exonerated of the charges pending against me.
APD continues to mislead the public on the well-established right to film the police in public. In addition to being the document that all police officers swore to uphold and defend, the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Among the first rights enshrined in the Constitution are freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Contrary to claims by Chief Acevedo, it is impossible for someone to illegally film police officers if they are peacefully doing so in a public space. The pro-First Amendment position that we have the protected right to film the police has been reaffirmed numerous times in Federal Courts, from Glik v. Cunniffe in the First Circuit to my lawsuit against the City of Austin in the Fifth Circuit.
Acevedo tries to confuse the public by claiming that his officers are not arresting people for filming, but merely for their “conduct” while filming. But there should be no confusion—the only questionable conduct is that of police officers illegally arresting lawful people. Acevedo also tries to confuse the public by claiming that the Peaceful Streets Project is interfering with arrests. However, all such claims are baseless. They have yet to provide a single example of a Peaceful Streets Project member physically interfering with an arrest. Legally, one cannot interfere just because they happen to be holding a camera in their hand.
The Peaceful Streets Project is a grassroots initiative that grew out of the community support I received after I was arrested on January 1, 2012. That morning, I witnessed Officers Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider abusing a woman who had not committed any crime. I began to question the officers and attempted to take pictures with my cell phone. Because I had the audacity to exercise my constitutionally protected rights, I was arrested and charged with the felony crime of spitting in a police officer’s face. Fortuitously, half a dozen witnesses were willing to come forward and testify that the police lied about the event, and one took video of the incident.
What I did not have access to for the two years and nine months after the arrest, while APD continued to slander me by claiming I spit in Oborski’s face, were the dash cam videos that also proved my innocence. APD and prosecutors also failed to turn over the 7-Eleven surveillance video they had in their possession, which we fortunately acquired through other means. In subsequent arrests, they also confiscated three Peaceful Streets Project cameras that had video of Austin police illegally arresting us for filming them. It took us about two years to get those videos back from the city. And the city tried to quash our requests for HALO video that show the events leading up to my arrest on August 2nd.
Acevedo disingenuously claims that they are now rolling out body cameras to increase transparency. However, body cameras without access will not increase transparency, they will become another tool for the police to abuse people they find undesirable. The opposite of transparency is the status quo in which APD suppresses video of police misconduct while misrepresenting those incidents by referencing videos that they refuse to allow the public to see.
If APD were really interested in transparency, they would acknowledge that the six videos of my most recent arrest prove that the police officers lied in order to justify another illegal arrest. And they would encourage the public to record the police.
* This is in response to their op-ed Body cameras might illuminate right and wrong when recording police. I tried to have this op-ed published by the Austin American-Statesman but like many media outlets, they choose to let the lying cops dictate the narrative of the story, and to have the final word.
Last night a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy was allegedly shot and killed execution style at a gas station. Like clockwork, while ignoring stories of Texas cops executing an unarmed man with his arms in the air and another who was a patient at a hospital, cops and cop supporters went to social media to declare the dead cop a hero while claiming that there is a “war on police.” Their response to a cop getting killed relative to a cop executing someone highlighted how much they believe cop lives matter, versus how much they believe everyone else’s lives matter.
The usual cop worship sickens those of us who have been struggling to try to get society to evolve to the point where they believe that just because you give a bully a badge, a gun, and qualified immunity, doesn’t mean that they should be celebrated for receiving tax dollars to beat, frame, rape, and murder without consequence. Therefore, we decided to post the story of the cop being killed on Facebook, with a comment that mirrored comments made each time a cop kills someone, especially a person of color.
As is common when a cop kills a young person of color, the cops and their supporters are often eager to claim that the victim was involved in criminal activity, and thus, you should then conclude that the extrajudicial killing of the victim was somehow warranted. When you point out that the police officer shouldn’t have executed the person even if they were involved in criminal activity, the cops and their supporters will quickly argue that the victim made bad decisions that put them in the unfortunate position of being executed by a cop. And particularly when the victim is black, you have the usual suspects quickly claiming that the cop murdering a young person can somehow be blamed on the bad or absent parenting the victim received.
Our Facebook post was meant to serve as a mirror for those who reflexively defend criminal cops while slandering their victims. Instead of helping people come to terms with their hypocritical view of crime and personal responsibility, all we got was a bunch of hysterical responses from the people who are so often eager to slander the dead.
Not surprising, the biggest critics were the police officers who make it standard operating procedure to attack the character, the life, and the families of the people they kill. One of the biggest hypocrite cops in America is Austin Police Chief Hubert “Art” Acevedo who quickly shared a screenshot of our post with the comment, “This is how mind of so-called peaceful activist works & why police officers don’t want him inches from their face.” We couldn’t have asked for a better example of a cowardly, criminal, terrorist cop to respond to our posting that that of Acevedo.
First, Acevedo is either stupid enough to not catch onto the fact that we were using the tactics of cops across America to make a point, or dishonest enough that he pretended to not notice it. Either way, that alone gives some indication to the degree to which he is unfit for his job. Second, the mind of a peaceful activist is obviously beyond the comprehension of a tax parasite violent terrorist cop. We endeavor to call out violence and to encourage people to find the courage within themselves to stand up to it. Acevedo and his fellow cops simply endeavor to dispense violence on the people and to promote the cowardice of the profession of policing (e.g., shooting every time they “fear for their lives”). Thirdly, claiming that his police officers don’t want [Peaceful Streets Project co-founder Antonio Buehler] “inches from their face [sic]” puts an exclamation point on how cowardly and corrupt Acevedo is.
The reason Acevedo references cameras a certain distance from one’s face stems from the illegal arrest of Antonio Buehler and Mike Bluehair Smith (or Film the Police Portland) by Austin Police on August 2nd, 2015. In the lie-filled affidavit written up by Austin Police Officer Aljoe Garibay, it is claimed that Buehler on multiple occasions held a camera within inches of various officers’ faces. That claim was the foundation for their ultimate claim that he was interfering with the public duties of the officers, who just happened to be doing nothing but standing around watching people film them.
The problem with Garibay and Acevedo’s claims are that they were definitively debunked by multiple videos of the arrest. In the videos, it is patently obvious that the only reason a camera was ever in any cop’s face was because the cops kept moving toward Buehler and placing their face in front of his camera. In not one sequence of shots did Buehler ever move his camera and body toward the face of a cop.
The fact that Acevedo would so blatantly lie about someone who was trying to hold his criminal cops accountable, while he has engaged in coverups of his cops illegally arresting cop watchers, highlights that Acevedo and the thin blue line is unconcerned about crime when it emanates from within the fraternity of law enforcement, but that they are all too eager to slander and attempt to dehumanize the victims of police abuse, corruption, and violence.
And that is why at the end of our Facebook post, we pointed out that perhaps the reason that every once in a blue moon someone decides to mimic the violent tactics of the police against the police may be because tens of thousands of people are victimized by police each month. Cops and their supporters love to dismiss the executions of young black men by using the twitter tag #thuglife. So we ended our post with the same. Sadly, the cops and their supporters can’t grasp the meaning of the term.
Tonight, August 14th, the Peaceful Streets Project will dedicate our effort and resources to holding Sgt. Randy Dear #4422 accountable. We will be shadowing his operations for the night with banners and fliers, stating his violations of our Constitutional right to film.
On the night of August 1st, Sgt. Dear illegally conspired with his subordinates to threaten and then arrest Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler and Film The Police Portland founder Mike “Bluehair” Smith. While Buehler was filming from over 10 feet away, Sgt. Dear #4422 approached Buehler and told him that he would arrest the members of the Peaceful Streets Project the next time there was a “disturbance” and they got “in the way” that they would be arrested. Buehler questioned Dear how they could be interfering if they were just standing where hundreds of other people were also standing. Later, after Dear re-approached and moved within inches of Buehler, he gave Buehler an arbitrary order move claiming Buehler was now interfering with his duties. While Buehler was complying, and protesting the illegal order, Dear and five other paramilitary soldiers* jumped, assaulted, and arrested him, while Cpl. Quint Sebek #3454 turned and assaulted and arrested Mike “Bluehair” Smith. Ofc. Aljoe Garibay #6155 then submitted a lie filled affidavit to support the illegal arrests. The Peaceful Streets Project later released multiple videos of the incident in a public rebuttal, proving that APD lied in their attempts to justify an illegal arrest.
A few weeks prior to this incident, Dear gave an unlawful ultimatum to the members of Peaceful Streets Project requiring them to maintain an arbitrary distance from APD officers. In response to the quoted facts of the law regarding filming, and rulings by both the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court, Dear stated, “This is not a judicial system. This is the law I’m telling you.”
It has become an obvious reality that there is a disconnect between the ruling of the courts and the actions of the Austin Police Department. If the constitutional right to film is no longer being respected, then we have no choice but to advance our tactics and strategies. We will exercise our constitutional and legal rights to the furthest extent possible to document the illegal actions of Sgt. Dear.
Sgt. Dear, Chief Art Acevedo, and the rest of the Austin Police Department, in three and a half years you have yet to beat us in court. We remain undefeated. You have attempted to murder, hospitalize, imprison and assault members of our community. Yet we remain ever strong, ever fearless. If you seek to end the existence and operations of the Peaceful Streets Project, the only way is to cease wrongfully abusing and murdering members of our community.
You WILL be filmed.
Disorderly Conduct Charge Against Peaceful Streets Project Founder Antonio Buehler Dropped After Second Mistrial; No More Criminal Charges Outstanding
Yesterday afternoon, Gonzales County (TX) Attorney Paul Watkins moved to dismiss a Class C Misdemeanor charge of Disorderly Conduct against Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler. With the dismissal, Buehler has now been cleared of every criminal charge levied against him since his initial high profile arrest in Austin, TX on January 1, 2012.
On March 13th, 2013, Buehler was at the municipal courthouse to observe court proceedings when he observed Judge Deidre Voigt verbally abusing adolescents who had received Class C misdemeanor charges for tardiness, truancy, and classroom disruptions at the local high school. When she found that he was recording her behavior, she confiscated his camera, searched it without a warrant, and then demanded that he delete the footage he had taken of her. As Buehler left the courthouse, Captain Gayle Autry told him to never return, and Buehler shortly thereafter told Autry to “go f— yourself.” Buehler was then arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct.
After being denied a continuance so he could obtain legal counsel, Buehler defended himself in the same court, presided over by Judge Voigt, on June 5, 2013, and was found guilty after a 7-hour trial, and assessed a $1 fine. Buehler immediately appealed the decision and was provided a trial de novo. Buehler went back to Gonzales for a trial on February 23, 2015 with Chevo Pastrano and Millie Thompson as his legal representatives, however, the trial was declared a mistrial due to an error made by County Judge David Bird. The trial date set for March 30, 2015, was cancelled the day before the trial when the county prosecutor claimed that he needed to deal with a family emergency. The trial date set for May 20, 2015, was cancelled days before the trial when the county court claimed to have discovered that they didn’t send out jury questionnaires.
On June 25th, 2015, Buehler went to court, again. The prosecution only called Captain Autry, while the defense called Buehler, and six other witnesses to testify. The prosecution argued that the mere utterance of the words “go f— yourself” tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace, while the defense argued that the arrest was illegal, that a police officer cannot arrest people because they are offended by free speech, and that Autry was never moved to violence. The six-person jury (two of who admitted during voir dire that they were friends or acquaintances with the prosecutor and the police that were present at the scene) deadlocked at 3-3, and the trial was declared a mistrial.
Watkins indicated that he chose to dismiss the charges after hearing the testimony at trial and concluding that he could not in good conscience try the case again. In response, Buehler said, “I appreciate that the prosecutor recognized that the testimony that was provided by Captain Autry during the trial proved that I did not commit any crime by exercising my First Amendment rights after I had my Constitutional right to be free from illegal search and seizure violated by Judge Deidre Voigt.” He continued, “I am also extremely grateful for the witnesses who were willing to travel to Gonzales multiple times to testify on my behalf, for the three members of the jury who refused to be pressured into declaring me guilty for a crime that was never committed, and for my hard working and principled lawyers Chevo Pastrano and Millie Thompson.” Buehler has already initiated a lawsuit against the City of Gonzales and Captain Gayle Autry for violations of his civil rights.
Buehler originally made news on January 1, 2012, when he was arrested on the charge of Harassment of a Public Official, a 3rd degree felony, for allegedly spitting in Austin (TX) Police Officer Patrick Oborski’s face. In the aftermath of that first arrest, Buehler launched the Peaceful Streets Project to educate the public on their rights, empower them to stand up for their rights and to stand up for the rights of one another, and come together to form communities to hold police accountable.
Over the next year and a half, Austin Police Officers arrested Buehler three more times for filming them while on duty. Two years and nine months after the New Year’s Day arrest, Buehler was found not guilty of any charges stemming from that incident at a four-day trial. Despite half a dozen witnesses, four videos, and two audio files that showed that Buehler did not spit on Oborski and that Oborski had lied in his arrest affidavit against Buehler, he was never disciplined or arrested.
In total, over the past three and a half years, Buehler has been arrested five times, has had ten charges levied in the courts against him, and has had dozens of criminal investigations launched against him (including at least three felony investigations by the Austin Police Department). With this dismissal, Buehler has now been cleared of every charge. Buehler is also currently suing the City of Austin, Chief Art Acevedo, Sergeant Adam Johnson, and Officers Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider, and Justin Berry.
The Gonzales Dismissal order is public record.