The Austin Police Department’s blatant disregard for safety and human dignity was, once again, on display during an incident recorded on 6th Street in downtown Austin, Texas. Around 2:35 a.m. on Sunday, August 7th, 2016, the Peaceful Streets Project continued to document APD’s weekend ritual of clearing drunken, wayward pedestrians from the street using horse mounted officers. Peaceful Streets Project members have documented numerous instances of the Austin Police Mounted Patrol using their horses to “push” people out of the street, and even push them off of sidewalks. This has resulted in people being needlessly injured, trampled, and knocked to the ground. People who have attempted to pet the horses have been assaulted and charged with interference with a public service animal. People who have attempted to avoid being assaulted by the horse mounted cops have also been assaulted and charged.
In this particular instance, an apparently inebriated woman wanders across the mounted patrol’s path, and nearly makes it to the curb, when Austin Police Officer Michael Wade #6699 decides to kick her as he passes. The blatant disregard for the woman’s safety and dignity publicly showcased by Officer Wade is profoundly appalling. The woman was within inches of the curb and posed neither threat nor obstacle to the passing patrol. She is simply kicked like she was some stray dog (as if kicking a dog could have any desirable effect). She may or may not be a tourist, a coworker, a friend, or a family member, and yet, that should have absolutely no bearing on the reaction of a reasonable viewer. She is, above all, a human being. The utter contempt and disdain shown to a member of our community by Austin Police Officer Michael Wade is deplorable. That this is what passes for professional “policing” in the city of Austin, should outrage even the most cynical sensibilities. If this is how an officer treats a weekend reveler of the Austin club scene, then it should come as no surprise when an officer decides to skip the less-than-lethal options and shoot dead a naked, unarmed, teenager with neither restraint nor due process.
When Austin police officers are captured on bystander or dash-cam video abusing their authority, joking about rape, or generally blurring the line between law enforcer and law breaker, Police Chief “Art” Acevedo is quick to remind us not to judge his officers before we have all of the facts. He will speak to his officer’s impeccable record while reminding us of their past professionalism. Yet, Chief Acevedo has, at times, rushed to slander victims and trot out criminal records, as if it somehow justifies trampling civil rights when his officers run amok. Ignoring any possible deep-seated issues pertaining to professionalism, race, class, or misogyny, this video makes crystal clear that Officer Wade’s wanton actions are both demeaning and reprehensible. At no point in this video, does a reasonable viewer connote any “prior convictions” nor witness any “professionalism”. A human being was needlessly kicked with sheer contempt by a fellow member of our community; a public servant, no less.
The Peaceful Streets Project implores Austin’s local media and the public to contact the Austin Police Department, Office of Police Monitor, and Mayor Steven Adler to inquire as to whether they find this behavior appropriate. More importantly, ask our elected officials what they will do to hold this officer accountable and ensure this never again happens in our community. Do not settle for promises of “more training” and be sure to ask, “How much training do officers require to understand that this is just wrong?” If we refuse to demand any semblance of basic human decency, we can only be complicit in our silence. If these actions, by those sworn to protect and serve, in any way, reflect the mood or general attitude of the media, the public, or our leaders, then we should all be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves. The people deserve answers, the people deserve better, and this young lady deserves an apology.
On July 18, 2015 three Dallas area activists headed down south to Waller County Jail to conduct an independent investigation into the murder of #SandraBland. One of those activists was Stephen Benavides (@S_Benavides1 on Twitter), and the other activists were Shani Deason (@WickedBeaute) and Sunshine (@LOLatWhiteFear).
Afterwards, on the 4 hour drive back to Dallas, the group stopped in Madisonville, TX to use the restroom. Across the street, Madisonville Police had a Black man pulled over and out of his car. This prompted the group to begin filming the interaction (cop watching) to ensure the safety of the driver.
After the driver was let go, the group of activists decided to leave. The two Madisonville police officers decided instead to approach the group and began to question their decision to #FilmThePolice. When asked by the police why they “think that’s acceptable to come walking up like that,” Stephen clearly articulated that they have a Constitutional right to film the police so long as they did not interfere with the stop. On that point, he was completely right, and the police should have apologized for the misunderstanding and left them alone. However, the police officers decided to continue the discussion instead of disengaging.
Stephen told the police officer, “you walked toward us.” Again, Stephen was right. The activists clearly never interfered with the stop and there would not have been an interaction had the police not approached these law abiding activists. But instead, knowing the activists had not committed any crime, the police officer said, “if you wanna keep pushing the issue, what we can do is we’ll take you to jail and you can explain yourself to the judge.” The police officer at this point was making it very clear to the activists that the cops would be willing to illegally arrest the activists for what is commonly known as “contempt of cop,” or not bowing down before the police.
The activists then challenged the thuggish behavior of the police. Stephen specifically asked, “push what issue?” As the police tried to inform the activists where they would allow them stand if they wanted to film, Stephen asked multiple times, “push what issue?” He also reminded them that filming was a Constitutionally protected right. As the activists tried to educate the ignorant police officers as to what is illegal and what is not illegal, Stephen uttered the f-word. At that point the other officer told him, “if you say one more word you’re going to jail, one more cuss word.” The cop then continued, “you’re not going to cuss out here.”
Stephen then had a choice to make, as many cop watchers and activists do. Does he stand up for his rights, knowing that it is completely legal to curse at police, and let another f-word fly? Or does he go home so that he can see his family and sleep in his own bed at the end of the night? Stephen chose to flex his rights, and told the cop, “fuck you.” The police then illegally arrested him. He spent the night at the Madison County Jail on the charge of “Disorderly Conduct”.
For those who don’t understand how terrorism and white supremacy work, pay attention to the video. Even if the police believed that Stephen had broken the law, which he did not, once the cops arrested him they had no reason to reengage with the other activists. However, the cops felt it was more important to terrorize the other activists, so they turned around and came back to bully and threaten Shani (@WickedBeaute) and Sunshine (@LOLatWhiteFear). Kudos to these two activists for standing up to these bully cops after they saw their friend illegally arrested, despite the imminent threats to their lives and liberty.
The police have a saying for the type of illegal arrest they employed against Stephen, “you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.” It means that they don’t really care if you are convicted or exonerated, the purpose of the arrest is to cause you the inconvenience of spending a night in jail, paying thousands of dollars to a lawyer, coming to court many times, and then often times having to go through a trial in the hope that a jury will recognize that the arrest was illegal.
Telling a cop, “fuck you” is not illegal. The courts have ruled time and time again that cops do not have the right to arrest you because they are offended by your words. The courts have ruled that you can wear clothing with the word “fuck” in public. They have ruled that you can flip off a cop. And, Stephen will eventually have the courts reaffirm that you can say “fuck you” to a cop. A member of the Peaceful Streets Project also has a pending lawsuit over an arrest for telling a cop to “go fuck yourself,” which will also go down as a case law win.
Stephen’s fight continues. Yesterday, Stephen was in court in Madisonville and had his next pretrial appearance set for September 24th. He is going to fight this illegal arrest, he is pushing for a speedy trial, and he needs your support to do so. When people stand up to the terrorist police they risk their most basic freedoms, their money, and sometimes their lives. When Stephen righteously told the cop, “fuck you,” he was speaking for all of us. Please help him beat these bogus charges by donating to his legal fund: https://rally.org/f/kUhNYaDBy0U.
The suspicious death of Sandra Bland three days after an unnecessary, illegal, and violent arrest has reminded tens of millions of people that while national awareness of the problems of endemic societal racism and rampant police abuse may have risen in the year since Michael Brown was murdered, the police have not been deterred in their application of crimes and violence against the public–particularly against people of color, the mentally ill, the very poor, and the homeless. In today’s environment where more and more people are pulling out their cameras to film the police because they expect that the police may violate someone’s rights, it should be unfathomable that police would continue to brazenly commit crimes against the public during a period of increased scrutiny, but as civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson likes to remind people, the police will continue to abuse and kill people.
I once asked an elder, "How do we keep the movement alive?" to which the elder replied, "The police will do it for you."
— deray mckesson (@deray) April 28, 2015
Police get away with their crimes for a multitude of complicated, and often intertwined, reasons. Racism. Classism. Corporations that profit off of incarceration. Corporations that profit off of prohibition. Politicians who are bought by those corporations and by police unions. Expectations of revenue generation by municipal governments. Qualified immunity for cops who commit crimes. Internal Affairs departments that are expected to clear cops of criminal wrongdoing. Chain of commands who believe it is their responsibility to clear cops of wrongdoing. Prosecutors who are eager to paper over cop crimes so that they can continue their symbiotic relationship with the police. Judges who overlook rampant police corruption as they eye higher benches or reelection campaigns where they will be attacked if they don’t come across as tough on (non-cop) crime. These are just some of the reasons, and these reasons give many people comfort in believing that they don’t directly contribute to the problem because they are not members of any of the aforementioned groups. However, one reason that we can directly attribute blame to the general public for is its desire to make excuses for criminal cops by blaming the victim.
In the Sandra Bland case, no reasonable person who believes in basic civil liberties could side with Officer Brian Encinia. Sandra Bland was unnecessarily stopped for a minor traffic infraction that would only result in a ticket in jurisdictions where revenue generation or harassment of a particular community (e.g., the Black community) is a priority. At the conclusion of the stop she was unnecessarily and illegally ordered to put out her cigarette in her own car. She legally (and righteously) refused to put out the cigarette, as is her right. For that, Encinia threatened her with arrest, pointed his taser (a deadly weapon) at her face, and proceeded to assault her. She was ultimately unjustly arrested for assault on a public servant, despite being the victim of assault. She then spent three days in prison because she dared to flex her basic Constitutional and human rights. On the third day the state alleges that she committed suicide.
~ Assata Shakur, 1987
In the Sandra Bland case, there are millions of people who blame Sandra Bland for her own arrest and death. For example, there are overtly racist people like Heather Martin of Allen, TX who sing the praises of Jesus and limited government but who will eagerly back an officer “every time” they commit crimes against any “uppity, mouthy, and criminal [Black people].” Backed by a Confederate flag, she proclaims that #PoliceLivesMatter, making it clear that Black lives do not matter to her.
There are also overtly racist people like retired NYPD Detective Harry Houck who argue that nothing bad would have happened during the stop had Sandra Bland dispensed with her “arrogant attitude” and simply been respectful to Officer Encinia.
They talk about how people (and they mean Black people) should simply shut up, treat the police officer with respect, and comply with all of his commands if they want to get through a stop without any problems (e.g., being arrested, assaulted, or killed). They shift the burden from the police, to not commit crimes, to the victim, to not question or talk back to police officers. Therein lies a problem that highlights our society’s failure to acknowledge its racist history, its racist present, its fixation on power and authority, and its failure to place civil liberties (the thing that many believe makes America great) above a cop’s expectation of being respected by the public.
But the Confederate flag waiving, bootlicking, cop apologizing, #PoliceLivesMatter crowd does make one point that is worth listening to–Black people sometimes should choose to comply instead of die. They get it right for the wrong reasons; they believe that Black people are inferior human beings, and that people in blue uniforms should be allowed to dispose of them if they don’t “act right.” But as most Black people will tell you, they’ve essentially been told the same thing by their parents, stemming from their parents’ desire to see their children survive to old age.
At the Peaceful Streets Project, we go into the streets to document interactions between the police and members of the public, and when we see police violating people’s rights, we challenge them. When they violate our rights, we challenge them. In the attached video, we challenged them quite vocally, with plenty of expletives, when they illegally detained and searched us for documenting their actions during a copwatch in the Rundberg region of Austin, TX. Compare and contrast our behavior to the so-called “arrogant” behavior that resulted in Sandra Bland being illegally arrested and assaulted.
Why did a Black man come up to us at the end of that incident and ask, “how the fuck do you talk to them goddam laws like that?” The answer is because he was amazed that we weren’t beaten and arrested for what we said to the police. Not everyone has the same ability to stand up for their rights or the rights of others. If you are homeless or extremely poor, you are less likely to be able to stand up for your rights without being abused, arrested, or killed. If you are mentally ill, you are less likely to be able to stand up for your rights without being abused, arrested, or killed. If you are Latino or Arab, you are less likely to be able to stand up for your rights without being abused, arrested, or killed. And if you are Black, you are less likely to be able to stand up for your rights without being abused, arrested, or killed. Sandra Bland is just one of tens of thousands of examples of that unfair and unfortunate reality.
It is for the aforementioned reasons that cops should NOT be respected by society. That they are so eager to use violence and commit crimes against people means that they are not productive members of society who deserve our respect. That they are even more likely to use violence and commit crimes against the most disadvantaged members of society means that they are bullies on top of being non-productive members of society. But just because they shouldn’t be respected doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be feared. When we stand up to the police, we fear for our lives and liberty. We understand that we are often dealing with violent thugs who have no qualms about committing crimes against us. But we also acknowledge that we have strength in numbers, we have cameras rolling, and most of us aren’t Black, Latino, Arab, homeless, extremely poor, or mentally ill. We are far more likely to survive a police encounter than Sandra Bland or someone who looks like her. That is privilege, and we will use our privilege to push back against police.
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.
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?
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”.
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.
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/
REPRINTED FROM THE FREE THOUGH PROJECT
Written by Bill Murray on September 9, 2014
The cops in America are out of control. They are killing unarmed Black and Hispanic men, people who dare to try to protect themselves when SWAT teams invade homes in the middle of the night, homeless people and even the elderly. They are also killing family pets at rate that makes one question if there is some sort of thin blue line expectation that cops don’t have street cred until they kill something. For example, in Atlanta it was found that cops killed one dog per week between 2010 and 2012. They’re even killing kittens.
Cops often use the excuse they were “scared” for their safety or for their lives when they kill people and pets, despite having very safe jobs (they are much more likely to die because of their illegal driving practices or health complications from donuts or steroids than they are from dangerous criminals). We don’t know if police beatings and executions of innumerable people over the years has numbed us to their brutality, as they almost always get away with crimes, or if their overreach from going after the weak and the marginalized to going after pets will actually cause people to wake up to the criminal nature of police in America. Perhaps a new documentary that is being produced to highlight the cop killing pets epidemic will help?
Until the day that the people finally say enough is enough, the Peaceful Streets Project would like to encourage you to share selected stories of criminal cop behavior in an attempt to stir up the people of America so they take a stand. Whereas many people will turn a blind eye to another murdered homeless or black person, a murdered puppy can sometimes get people to pay attention. If you have stories of abuse please feel free to share those stories on the Peaceful Streets Project facebook page, and come to the Free Antonio Buehler page for thousands of stories of cops committing crimes.
The inspiration for this post came from yet another sad story that a victim presented to us. We are posting it below:
“On September 6th, 2013 my dog, Blossom, went missing in Jonestown, Texas. For two weeks I and other people who had loved Blossom searched for her but we were unsuccessful. Following those two weeks I received a phone call from a gentleman from Jonestown City Hall, who had informed me that Blossom was hit by a car, and TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) had taken her body and had it incinerated.
“About a week later I received an email from a Private Investigator from the City of Jonestown who had asked to speak to me in person, stating she had additional information in regards to Blossom’s death. Once I had met her in person she had informed me that Blossom was not hit by a car, but in fact shot and killed by a member of the Jonestown Police Department. She had wondered into a neighbor’s chicken coop and the neighbors contacted the police. Once officers arrived at the property they killed my baby.
“Blossom was anything but an aggressive dog. Above playing, dancing, eating, hiking, and cuddling, she loved everything with her small, yet beautiful heart. However, she had the appearance of a Coyote, which the officers found a threat, and reason to murder her.
“I have raised Blossom since she was 1 month old, she was like a child to me, and I still mourn her death heavily. I am fighting the tears as I type this message. Many people loved Blossom within the 7 years of her life, she brought such joy and comforted big and small creatures, human and animal. She did not deserve what had happened to her. We are all still struggling with the loss of such a wonderful spirit.”
Peaceful Streets Project founder, Antonio Buehler recently gave a TEDx talk at Harvard University in which he talked about the need for both direct action and empathy as a means to fighting police abuse.
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.
Peaceful Streets Project
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.
Joshua Pineda of the Black Star Initiative
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