22 Aug
2013

The Strength of a Panther’s Paw: Reporting from the 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit

By Shane “Shag” Matthews

August 22nd, 2013

Austin, TX – On August 17th, 2013, Austin played host to the 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit. For about 6 hours that Saturday the AT&T Conference Center off of MLK Blvd., where the summit was being held, was a veritable hotbed of civic and social activism at its finest. People came from all over the country to attend this spectacular event in order to support like-minded individuals fighting for justice against abusive and corrupt cops and listen to the harrowing stories of those still seeking justice in an increasingly fascist country. Of course, nothing would have occurred had it not been for the tireless efforts of the Peaceful Streets Project headed by local hero activist, Antonio Buehler, who was the primary sponsor of this event. Also helping to organize the day’s lineup of fantastic speakers was longtime activist, former head of Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) and current host of Liberty Beat Radio, John Bush.

When I arrived around noon, the summit was already in full swing having kicked off around 10am by my friend and emcee, James Franklin. Being a bit late, I hoped to quickly make up for lost time and anxiously climbed the stairs up to the conference, where I could already feel the palpable sense of electrical urgency in the air. Reaching the top, I immediately recognized a few friends of mine manning the tables and milling about the long corridor that ran the length of the center and connected up to a string of smaller conference rooms and a large auditorium. This was where the day’s speakers would be giving their rousing talks on everything from the politics of legislative justice to canine deaths at the hands of overzealous cops. I walked over to the Brave New Books booth and spoke with my friend, Harlan Dietrich, who manages the store and had an array of excellent books for sale including Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. Mr. Balko writes as a columnist for the Huffington Post and wrote a profoundly moving investigatory article about the militarization of America’s police forces for the Cato Institute, before it was later turned into the aforementioned book. In my recent blog article entitled “The Crimes, Corruption, and Racially-Charged Murders of the Austin Police Department” at http://www.parapoliticaljournal.com, I have a link to Radley’s Cato Institute piece that I found on-line and posted, before I even knew he was going to be one of the speakers. He gave one of the better lectures at the summit about this vitally important issue addressed in his book. One of the more telling aspects of his lecture, immediately preceding the keynote, was when he showed a series of pictures and asked the audience to attempt to guess whether they were depictions of soldiers or police. I was wrong in guessing at least half of the time as were most of the audience, especially when he showed police decked out in camouflage, Kevlar, and carrying assault rifles. Clearly, the line between combat and urban policing has gotten very thin indeed, and there are times when it’s pretty obvious that Posse Commitatus doesn’t even apply anymore in America. Balko dated the beginnings of the para-militarization of police and formation of modern SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) teams with the infamous former LAPD Chief, Darryl Gates, who was instrumental in conceiving SWAT after the Watts Riots of 1965. Originally, SWAT’s mission was at least reasonable insofar as it was to be a highly-trained and armed unit that could be deployed during extremely volatile situations when lives are at stake and in imminent danger, such as a bank robbery already in progress or a hostage negotiation. The idea was to attempt to defuse and/or de-escalate the situation, barring an actual violent confrontation. However, once Richard Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in response to the mythological “War on Drugs”, SWAT teams became a brutal adjunct in the arsenal of metropolitan police departments, where they engaged in escalating numbers of home invasions, asset forfeitures, and wholesale killing of innocent people caught in the crossfire and siege mentality of the so-called “Drug War”.

Prior to Radley Balko’s talk, there were a number of excellent lectures given by people such as Carlos Miller, Pete Eyre, Heather Fazio, and the various PSP Chapter representatives coming as far away as Manchester, England. When I first arrived, I walked in on a spirited talk being given by Heather Fazio about fighting police corruption through coordinated civic campaigning and legislative bills. After her, I decided to sit in on a talk given by my long-time friend, Harold Gray, and fellow PSP member, Stephen Sheftall. Harold gave a very informative talk about the tactics employed, when you find yourself out on the street cop watching. Although much of it is common sense, Harold explained the art and science of filming cops in such a way as to make it easily understood and utilized by a newbie without downplaying its inherent risks. Showing some interesting videos, he discussed the various tactics that the Peaceful Streets Project members employ in filming the cops on their nightly excursions that maximize their effectiveness to get good video (on the one hand), while diminishing their chances of being arrested by an overly aggressive cop (on the other hand). Who knows? Maybe, the revolution will be televised…at the very least it will probably be filmed and posted on YouTube.

There were also a couple of musicians, who sang songs of protest to the entertained audience. Tatiana Moroz played a series of folksy tunes on her acoustic guitar, as she sang in Bob Dylan-esque fashion. Then, rapper B. Dolan spat some mad rhymes (to use street vernacular) for those assembled in the auditorium. B. Dolan was pretty fly for a white guy and gave a short talk about how he came to appreciate the revolutionary urban politics of hip-hop’s pioneers such as N.W.A., KR-1, and Public Enemy. And, in recognition of the cell-phone camera cop watching that PSP spearheads, B.Dolan rapped a re-mix of N.W.A.’s classic radical anthem, “Fuck da Police” that he re-christened “Film da Police”. Although I’m still partial to the hard-core original, his re-mix was pretty good and still in keeping with Chuck D’s quote that “hip-hop is CNN for black people”. Towards the end of the summit, Antonio Buehler took to the stage for the Peaceful Streets Project annual awards ceremony. He spoke about his decisions and passed out award plaques in several different categories including ‘Best Activist’, ‘PSP Member of the Year’, ‘PSP Chapter of the Year’ that went to Sandusky, Ohio, the increasingly difficult to award ‘Police Officer of the Year’, and the much easier to award ‘Corrupt Cop of the Year.’ That dubious distinction and dishonor went to the well-deserved APD Chief, Art Acevedo. Unfortunately, Acevedo wasn’t on hand to accept his award. So, I told someone that I’d be glad to hand deliver it to him personally, assuming Antonio isn’t already going to do it.

Finally, after a brief break, the moment everybody at the summit had been waiting for arrived. The keynote speaker for the day’s festivities was none other than the legendary co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Mr. Bobby Seale. Austin was truly blessed to have been able to get Bobby Seale to regale us with his moving stories from the time before he and Huey Newton started the Black Panther Party in Oakland in 1966 all the way through to the present day, when he is campaigning to have a dramatic feature-length movie made about it. At one point, he stated that the movie Panther got it really wrong, in more ways than one. Bobby spoke about being a good, academically-oriented student interested in math, science, and technology before he was turned on to black history, rhetoric, and civil rights. His stories were emotionally resonant, particularly when he dealt with the politics of race in America. Yet, they were also laced with an easy-going style of eloquence and good humor. On more than one occasion, he had me tearing up one minute and laughing the next. I remember him telling a poignant story about confronting his teacher’s presumptive prejudicial labels. The gist of it was, “Why are Asians referred to as mongoloids, black people are called negroids, but white people refer to themselves as Caucasian? We’re always the ‘noids’. You ever notice that? If I’m going to be called negroid or Africanoid, to be fair white people will have to be called Caucasoid!” He also talked about reciting his radical poem on a crowded Berkley street with weed-smoking hippies around him at the time. After reciting the poem verbatim (that he gave voice to on that street corner to a raucous audience) about the blind patriotism and hypocrisy of Uncle Sam, he had people so inspired and juiced…I felt like we had collectively been imaginatively transported to standing at the corner of Haight-Ashbury in 1969.

Naturally, he covered many of the highs and lows of the tumultuous late 60s and early 70s, but it was the idiosyncratic and largely unknown bits and pieces of his life, in that period of time, that had me mesmerized. Little nuggets and things like how Huey Newton was horrible with trying to pick up on girls, how he modeled much of the Black Panthers on the teachings of the Lakota tribe of Native Americans, and how he used basic mathematics in training new recruits on the finer points of dialectics kept the audience in rapt fascination and attention. Needless to say, by the end of his approximately hour talk or so, he was given a much deserved standing ovation and applause. Afterwards, those that had contributed to the Peaceful Streets on-line fundraiser campaign to be able to afford to hold the summit made their way to a reception room, where they enjoyed refreshments as they mixed and mingled with the excellent bunch of speakers. As I hung by the door chatting it up with my buddy Harold of the PSP, I saw Mr. Bobby Seale walking towards me. Before I had a chance to even think of something cool to say, I blurted out- “It was an honor to have heard you speak today on what I feel was an historic occasion.” Bobby then shook my hand and said, “Thank you man.” After that, for the entire rest of the day and night, I was literally “over the moon”. Later on, after the speaker gala, a post-summit party was held next door at Brave New Books. And finally, around 10pm that same night, Peaceful Streets Project met up with about 30 people for what would be an epic cop watch downtown. In summation, I just want to say, “Thank you very much, Mr. Bobby Seale, for your vision, courage, and social consciousness in co-founding the original Black Panther Party.” And, thank you, Antonio Buehler, and the great people of the Peaceful Streets Project for keeping that social consciousness alive in the ongoing fight for police accountability. To all of those, who attended the “Police Accountability Summit” this year, you are to be commended, and let it be said in the words of India’s iconic peaceful revolutionary, Gandhi, that “We are the change that we want to see in the world!”

14 Aug
2013

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project has reached 60% of their $35,000 goal and you can help them cross the finish line by donating in Bitcoins!

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project has reached 60% of their $35,000 goal and you can help them cross the finish line by donating in Bitcoins!

August 12th, 2013

Austin, TX – With four days left until the 2nd annual Police Accountability Summit begins, the organizers are celebrating over $21,000 in donations that have been made to this tremendously important event. However, there’s still another $14,000 to raise to hit the goal, and some news today may speed up the success of this fundraiser.

The Peaceful Streets Project is now accepting Bitcoin to support their Police Accountability Summit. This year has already outdone the first in RSVP’s and the lineup of speakers. Author, Radley Balko and Black Panther Party co-founder, Bobby Seale will be addressing the crowd. There will be multiple panels to help better educate the community on their rights and even events for entire families.

Dig into your Bitcoin wallet today and help us make this event the best it can possibly be to ensure media coverage, record-breaking attendance, and most of all, serve as a springboard for another unprecedented year of police accountability activism throughout the nation!  Check out the perks on the IndieGogo Campaign and contact us at PeacefulStreets@gmail.com if you decide to donate so we can get you your reward.

You can send your payment to our Bitcoin address:1A7fxhdACYTX4XiAvbBM2ehgUkJjtVZLh7

or scan the QR code below:

We’re happy to be able to offer new, voluntary ways of donating and hope this goes to show our dedication to freedom. Please consider making a donation today, whether it be Bitcoin or with your credit card so we can hit our $35,000 goal by the end of the week!

See you at the Summit and for those of you far away, stay tuned for footage from the event.

More information at: http://peacefulstreets.com/summit-2013/

IndieGogo Campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2nd-annual-peaceful-streets-project-police-accountability-summit

Thanks to Bitcoin not Bombs for the inspiration!

###

12 Aug
2013

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project runs Indiegogo Campaign to raise $25,000 for 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit – bonuses for all contributors!

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project runs Indiegogo Campaign to raise $25,000 for 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit – bonuses for all contributors!

August 12th, 2013

Austin, TX – No good deed can happen without the outpouring of support from others. The recent, significant increase in police accountability activism, birthed from technological advances like smart phones and instant upload sites (e.g., Livestream), is forcing cop culture to change. There are dedicated activists all over the country taking to the streets to protest police abuse, aiming cameras at cops, fighting for everyone’s rights to live freely and peacefully, aiming cameras and protesting.

The Peaceful Streets Project is one of those pioneer organizations, paving the way to a more peaceful future, and they are hosting the 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit scheduled for August 17th at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center from 10am-4pm. Keynote speeches from Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale and author, Radley Balko are enough to make this the most powerful police accountability summit this nation has seen in years. This event will bring together community to stand up to police abuse, and serve as a catalyst for an unprecedented year of police accountability activism from Austin, to Sandusky (NH), to Honolulu, to Manchester (NH).

In order to make this event a success the Peaceful Streets Project must raise at least $25,000 through our recently launched Indiegogo campaign. In order to provide access to the people most likely to become victims of police abuse, we are providing this event free to the public, including admission, food, drinks and child care. However, we must still cover the costs associated with the venue, the speakers’ fees, airfare and hotel, the food for the guests, advertising and marketing materials. Please consider supporting the movement and making sure all can attend so the education and awareness spreads. Visit the Indiegogo page to find out more details on speakers, funding, a video from founder, Antonio Buehler, and more!

You have the chance to be recognized as a supporter, get your own Peaceful Streets shirt, or even a whole trip planned and booked for the conference. Check out all the ways you can support the event!

The Peaceful Streets Project’s mission is to empower and educate people on their rights while “engaging in non-political and non-violent direct action tactics, and utilizing new technologies” to hold law enforcement officials accountable; a bold undertaking. Join us in Austin at the 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit this Saturday, August 17th at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center from 10am-4pm.

10 Aug
2013

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project National Day of Action, August 10, 2013

Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project National Day of Action, August 10, 2013

August 10th, 2013

Austin, TX – Peaceful Streets Project chapters from around the country will be engaging in direct action tactics today, August 10th, to rein in the out of control criminal cops who destroy the lives of peaceful people on a daily basis in communities throughout the country.

The Peaceful Streets Project has grown from one chapter last summer, to 15 chapters today, with another 15 chapters likely to launch within the next month. The movement for police accountability is growing through the efforts of the Peaceful Streets Project, Cop Block, Cop Watch and other organizations throughout the country. In the past year alone, we have seen a marked change in the rhetoric surrounding unjustified police shootings and abuse from one of making excuses for the crimes of police officers to one of demanding accountability. We appreciate when people demand that “good cops arrest bad cops” and when they say “cops who shoot unarmed people are cowards.” Without internal policing by the police and their government bosses, it is up to the people to force change through public pressure.

Today, the Peaceful Streets Project will continue to try to inform the public of the misconduct and criminal nature of too many cops, and to publicly expose some of the worst of the criminal cops. In Ohio, the Peaceful Streets Project will have a public screening of the film All Power To The People!, a documentary on the actions law enforcement and the government took against the Black Panthers who tried to defend themselves from police abuse in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This filming is all the more relevant given that Bobby Seale will be the keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit. After the screening, there will be a free potluck dinner and then Peaceful Streets Project-Sandusky and Peaceful Streets Project-Defiance will do a joint cop watch.

In New York City, the Peaceful Streets Project will begin their action in Union Square where they will form into street teams. They will then hold a Know Your Rights Training in Union Square before heading into the subways to inform passengers of their rights, underground.

In Austin, Texas, the Peaceful Streets Project will protest the corrupt cop of the month, Detective Charles Kleinert, the Austin cop who killed Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., a man who had committed no crime and who was not being detained when Kleinert commandeered a vehicle, chased after Jackson, and ultimately shot Jackson once in the back of the neck.

In Allen, Texas and Miami, Florida the Peaceful Streets Project will engage in Cop Watch events to hold the police accountable.

These actions are being taken in advance of the 2nd Annual Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit on August 17th at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the University of Texas campus from 10am to 4pm. If you wish to support the summit, check out the indiegogo page to see how you can contribute. It’s easy to donate and there are perks for our supporters. Because this event is free to the public, we are relying on donations to raise the $35,000 necessary to make this event a success. Please help us meet our goal and please join us in Austin on August 17th!

PSP-Austin: https://www.facebook.com/events/1405878829626353/
PSP-New York City: https://www.facebook.com/events/501616753251671/
PSP-Sandusky (OH) & PSP-Defiance (OH): https://www.facebook.com/events/142907632582501/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/181271648712598/

8 Aug
2013

Press Release: Co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, headlines Austin’s 2nd Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit

Press Release: Co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, headlines Austin’s 2nd Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit

August 8th, 2013

Austin, TX – Who would know better about the police brutality and prejudice that residents face every day in Central Texas than one of the leading boots on the ground, frontline activists of the Civil Rights Movement? Co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, will be joining as one of the impressive keynote speakers during the 2nd Annual Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit. As one of the original Chicago 8, Seale is no stranger to police watching his every move. His passion began with the Black Panther Party and has now extended into the mission of educating others on their rights and how to exert those rights in the face of unjust law enforcement. Seale will speak about the most powerful weapon at our fingertips; no bullets necessary.

Having such a monumental guest at the 2nd Annual Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit, and Austin, is an honor and will help us in our fight for peaceful streets. We expect his visit and speech will draw in a passionate crowd of supporters, and bridge the gap between other organizations and activists in the Austin area, and nationally.

The Peaceful Streets Project’s mission is to empower and educate people on their rights while engaging in non-political and non-violent direct action tactics, and utilizing new technologies to hold law enforcement officials accountable; a bold undertaking. Join the struggle by coming to the 2nd Annual Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit on August 17th at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the University of Texas campus from 10am to 4pm

If you wish to help support the event, check out the indiegogo page to see how you can contribute. It’s easy to donate and there are perks for our supporters. Because this event is free to the public, we are relying on donations to raise the $35,000 necessary to make this event a success. Please help us meet our goal and please join us in Austin on August 17th!

30 Jul
2013
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Press Release: Police Accountability and Civil Rights Groups Respond to APD Press Conference on the Killing of Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr.

Press Release: Police Accountability and Civil Rights Groups Respond to APD Press Conference on the Killing of Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr.

July 30th, 2013

Austin, TX – The media is invited to join the Austin Police Accountability Coalition and the Peaceful Streets Project in front of Austin City Hall at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday July 30th where we will issue a response to the Austin Police Department’s (Monday) press conference regarding the shooting death of Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr. by Detective Charles Kleinert.

On Friday, July 26th, Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., a black man, walked to the Benchmark Bank and tried to gain entry several hours after that bank had been robbed by a “tall and heavy set white man.” Despite having not committed any crime, and not being told he was being detained under suspicion of committing any crime, when Jackson decided to leave, Kleinert decided to follow him, despite policy dictating otherwise.

Allegedly, Jackson ran – although a witness said he saw him “merely walking” along the sidewalk. Kleinert, instead of pursuing on foot (and why he felt he needed to is in question), commandeered a vehicle driven by a motorist that was sitting in a parking lot near the bank. The witness said Kleinert was “out of control” and did not identify himself before frantically ordering the confused motorist to drive him around. “The motorist implored Kleinert to calm down and explain what was happening, the source said,” but Kleinert merely yelled, “Go! Go! Go!” When Kleinert identified Jackson, “who the source said was merely walking along the sidewalk,” Kleinert yelled “there he is!” before jumping out of the car to chase after Jackson. The shaken motorist quickly left and called 911 to report what they must have thought was a crime in progress – perpetrated by the “police officer.”

Underneath the bridge, Assistant Police Chief Brian Manley claims a scuffle ensued. Jackson ended up dead, shot once in the back of the neck by Detective Kleinert. Manley also implied the shooting may have been accidental, as if they don’t know yet whether it was. Possible? If APD didn’t issue a “hearing” on Friday following the shooting, then Kleinert may not have had to tell APD his side of the story yet. According to the City’s Meet & Confer contract with the Austin Police Association (just renewed, as it is done every five years), officers have 48 hours in which they don’t have to talk about any use of force incident – triggered by APD calling a hearing for the investigation. He may not have talked to them yet if they failed to issue the notice, and has even more time to create a tale to cover up his policy infractions based on some serious mistakes he made in assessing a public safety threat and resolving conflict as he was trained.

Debbie Russell of the Austin Police Accountability Coalition: “I didn’t think there could be a worse tale of APD misconduct and cover up after the shooting of Nathaniel Sanders, II (someone asleep in a car with no gun in hand and only awake for 4 seconds before shot in the back of the head)…then I didn’t think anything could top the unjust killing of Byron Carter, Jr. (a passenger in a vehicle not having committed any crime attempting to flee armed men not identifying themselves as police-also shot in the back of the head). But this is beyond the pale! An unarmed black man chased down and killed based on what one officer believed he might do, sometime in the future.”

Antonio Buehler of the Peaceful Streets Project: “It is remarkable that every time an APD officer commits a felony crime, that APD comes out and blames the victim of police violence. Cops know that pedestrians have a right to walk (or run) away from police if they are not being legally detained, so APD’s claim that it is “not a good idea to run from police” is nothing more than a diversion tactic to take the focus off of the killer cop and apply it to the deceased. Further, APD has a history of slandering the dead to protect their cops. APD suggesting that Jackson was at the bank to “defraud” them suggests that APD has prophetic wisdom into the future actions of the people they kill.”

MONDAY PRESS HIGHLIGHTS FROM CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS:

Nelson Linder of the NAACP-Austin: “This needs to be an issue among our government. They can’t be silent while these types of shootings continue in our city,” Linder said. “It is too rampant, it’s too racial and these type so things happen too often. These are senseless shootings we know for a fact need to stop.”

Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project: “We cannot tolerate this constant use of deadly force. People should not have to fear for their lives when they are in a parking lot, stopped for a traffic offense, or go to the bank.”

http://www.austinchronicle.com/blogs/news/2013-07-29/apd-searching-for-witness-to-fatal-officer-involved-shooting/

25 Jul
2013
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Press Release: 2nd Annual Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit

The media and the public are invited to join the Peaceful Streets Project at our 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit from 10 am to 4 pm on August 17th at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin, TX.

The Peaceful Streets Project is an all-volunteer, grassroots effort that seeks to end police abuse and hold police accountable by empowering communities to exercise their rights and stand up for one another. Over the past year the Peaceful Streets Project has led over a dozen know your rights training sessions, provided a platform for scores of victims of police abuse to tell their stories, organized over 100 cop watches, and grown from a local effort in Austin into a national movement with a dozen chapters from Manchester, NH to Honolulu, HI.

The 2nd Annual Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit will be an entertaining, educational and empowering experience for the community, and will serve as a celebration of our wildly successful year in the struggle against police abuse. We will be bringing in activists, speakers and entertainers from all over the country for this powerful event.

The keynote speaker for the summit is Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party and long time police accountability activist. In an attempt to aid African-American victims of police brutality and racial prejudice, Seale and the Black Panthers pioneered the practice of cop watch, often times carrying rifles. As part of his speech, Seale will talk about how the camera is a more powerful weapon against police abuse than a rifle is.

Other headliners include Radley Balko, writer for the Huffington Post and author of the new book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Force, Carlos Miller of PhotographyIsNotACrime.com, Pete Eyre of CopBlock.org, and Antonio Buehler and John Bush, co-founders of the Peaceful Streets Project. Entertainers include B. Dolan who will perform “Film the Police” and Tatiana Moroz who will perform a song written for the Peaceful Streets Project.

In addition to hearing from speakers and entertainers, participants will have the opportunity to listen to a panel covering family pets killed by law enforcement, engage in a debate over whether we should try to reform the police or abolish them, participate in a Know Your Rights training session, and receive hands on training to learn tactics for filming police. Food and refreshments will be provided, and there will be free childcare on site for families who attend.

The facebook event page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/465581550193801.

Peaceful Streets Project Mission: Through community organizing, engaging in non-political and non-violent direct action tactics, and utilizing new technologies, the Peaceful Streets Project seeks to bring about a cultural shift where individuals understand their rights and hold law enforcement officials accountable, and communities protect and serve each other.

19 Jul
2013
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Press Release: Peaceful Streets Project Organizing a Support Rally for San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams in San Marcos, TX

At 2 pm on Saturday, July 20th, the Peaceful Streets Project will celebrate the extraordinarily rare and brave acts that San Marcos (TX) Police Chief Howard Williams and other members of the chain of command took against a fellow officer following an illegal and violent arrest of a woman who had not committed any crime on May 29th.

That officer, Cpl. James Palermo, had pulled someone over for driving the wrong way down a one-way street, and took issue when 22-year-old, Alexis Alpha walked by the traffic stop. According to the affidavit, Palermo demanded to see her identification, to which Alpha insisted she had done nothing wrong, suggested that he conduct traffic stops elsewhere, said that he apparently was in a bad mood and was taking it out on her, and then called him a “dick”.

Without cause, Palermo then assaulted Alpha by grabbing her, pushing her into a car and then throwing her down on the concrete, resulting in broken teeth and a concussion. He then arrested her and filed false charges of obstruction, resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Over the past year and a half, the Peaceful Streets Project has tracked hundreds of cases where police officers have been caught on film falsely arresting and/or committing violent crimes against innocent, unarmed and peaceful people. However, over the past year and a half we have had difficulty finding stories of good cops who witnessed such crimes by other police officers, and then took it upon themselves to arrest the criminal cops. On the contrary, we have seen one police chief after another acting as Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo does, defending cops who commit crimes while slandering the victims of police abuse.

What is remarkable about this incident in San Marcos is not that Cpl. James Palermo had committed a violent crime; what is remarkable is that San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams chose to defend the victim, and not the criminal cop. When Chief Williams found out about the incident the next day, he ordered an internal review. The video from the patrol car’s dashboard camera proved that Palermo had broken the law, and that led to a warrant being issued on Tuesday, resulting in the arrest of Palermo in Chief Williams’ office.

We have seen cases where police officers have been arrested, but they almost always come as a result of an investigation by an outside agency, bold (and rare) action by a district attorney, or because of overwhelming public outcry over documented police abuse. What makes the San Marcos incident even more remarkable is that this arrest took place because of actions by police officers within the department, and in the absence of public outcry. Furthermore, in the rare instances in which police officers are arrested for crimes committed while in uniform, they are usually arrested on relatively minor charges such as official oppression, a misdemeanor, as opposed to the more serious charges that a public servant should be held accountable to. Palermo was ultimately arrested and charged with a first-degree felony of Aggravated Assault by a Public Servant.

The Peaceful Streets Project is an all-volunteer, grassroots effort dedicated to ending institutionalized violence through community organizing and non-violent direct action tactics, and we view police accountability as an utmost priority to achieving our mission. While we try to change culture by changing attitudes regarding the role of police in society, we acknowledge that change must also come from within the system. While we are quick to criticize police officers that commit crimes, and the police officers who defend criminal cops, we also want to honor those officers who cross the thin blue line to do the right thing.

Therefore, on July 20, 2013 between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, the Peaceful Streets Project will be gathering in front of the Hays County Courthouse (111 E. San Antonio Street, San Marcos, TX 78666) in support of Chief Howard Williams. The rarity of police officers being held to a higher standard should be celebrated. While police accountability emanating from within a police department is extremely rare, we are hopeful the San Marcos Police Department is paving the way and serving as a role model to all other departments in policing those who police.

The facebook event page will be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/694356897246295.

17 Jul
2013
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Join the Peaceful Streets Project at a Jordan Page Benefit Concert, Thursday July 18th!

Jordan Page Home Concert to Benefit the Peaceful Streets Project
Thursday, July 18th, 2013 @ 8:00 p.m. (social hour begins at 7:00 p.m.)
Private residence in Austin, TX (location to be disclosed to those who RSVP)
Join on Facebook

This summer you’ll have the opportunity to attend two events in Austin, TX to propel the burgeoning police accountability movement forward. The first is a benefit concert to be held tomorrow, Thursday, July 18th, and the second is the 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit to be held on Saturday, August 17th.
Over the past year the Peaceful Streets Project has gone from an idealist vision in the minds of a few activists as to how we as a community could stand up to out of control criminal cops, to a powerful grassroots organization that has exposed the criminal, unprofessional and violent nature of far too many cops, and forced local cops to amend their behavior when dealing with the public.

The criminal actions of coward cops Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider of the Austin Police Department, and the subsequent cover up of their crimes by Police Chief Art Acevedo and the rest of the department, to include Internal Affairs, spurned a movement that is now affecting culture change from big cities to small towns throughout the country!

In the past year alone, this nascent organization has given victims of police abuse a platform to share their stories, hosted dozens of Know Your Rights Trainings, organized over 100 cop watches, and hosted a successful police accountability summit where we gave out 100 cameras to people in need so that they could film the police. We were also named the grassroots movement of the year, and now we are going national. We have a dozen chapters nationwide in cities such as Houston, New York, Manchester NH and Sandusky OH, and we may have 20 more chapters launched by the end of the summer.

Tomorrow, Thursday, July 18th, liberty rocker Jordan Page will be coming to Austin, Texas to perform at a private benefit concert to help raise funds for our 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit that will be held on August 17th. The money we raise is necessary to offset the costs of the venue, as well as the costs associated with our featured guests which include Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panthers, Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, Carlos Miller of PhotographyIsNotaCrime.com, Pete Eyre of CopBlock.org, and musicians B. Dolan and Tatiana Moroz.

Please RSVP today by going to our rally site (https://rally.org/jordanpagePSPconcert-austin) and donating at least $50. The rally site is the preferred form of payment, but cash at the door will also be accepted. Because this is a private house concert, the location will only be disclosed to those who RSVP through the rally site, or who email Antonio Buehler (antonio@buehlered.com) directly with a commitment to attend and pay in person.

In addition to coming to the benefit concert, you can help us by sharing ” target=”_blank”>this video with friends via email, facebook and twitter. And like people from all over the country who are dedicated to fighting police abuse, you can make plans to come to our 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit. Whether or not you plan to make the trip to Austin, you can donate to help us offset the costs of providing this free benefit to the community. Please go to peacefulstreets.com/donate for more information on ways to donate.

Finally, the Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Austin” ballot is now available online. The Peaceful Streets Project won last year’s Best Grassroots Movement, which provided us with both free media coverage and credibility among many of the establishment types in Central Texas. Please go to the Politics and Personalities section of the ballot, and type in “Peaceful Streets Project” in the “Grassroots Movement” box. Once again, you can vote at http://www.austinchronicle.com/feedback/bestof/13/.

We appreciate all of your support, and with your continued support, we will continue to eat away at the police state, empower people to stand up for their rights, and bring people together to protect and serve each other!

8 Jul
2013
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Press Release: Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo Should Honor Heroic Acts by Cops Instead of Defending Criminal and Coward Cops

The Peaceful Streets Project, known for its well-deserved criticism of the Austin Police Department, would like to take the opportunity to do something that it doesn’t get to do very often: Honor some Austin Police Officers who risked their lives to protect and serve the public.

On June 20th, in an apartment fire on Duval Road, “two APD officers ran door-to-door to alert and remove residents from the area.” These two officers both ended up being hospitalized after being overcome by smoke from the fire, but as a result of their courageous actions, they were the only two injured.

In a separate incident, on June 25th, Austin Police responded to a swimming accident at McKinney Falls State Park. Unfortunately, two people lost their lives in this tragedy, but a third was saved when “Officers jumped unto [sic] the water fully clothed to try and rescue all three victims.”

We are troubled by the fact that the Austin Police Department has done nothing to honor these heroic acts, yet every time there is an officer-involved-shooting or similar example of cops acting negligently or criminally, Chief Art Acevedo is on the scene defending those officers from any and all criticism, and proclaiming their heroism even under the most dubious of situations. We note that even the names of the officers who risked their lives to save others have not even been released to the press. We watch with disgust as criminal cop Patrick Oborski is recognized as a “Jaime Padron Hero,” while real heroism goes unrewarded and unrecognized. We are disappointed that the dubious killing of unarmed minority youths, law abiding septuagenarians and family pets is lauded as heroism by the APD, but saving lives isn’t.

The Peaceful Streets Project respectfully requests that Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo take a break from defending and honoring the cowards and criminals in his department, and take notice of the fact that he has a few officers in his employ that actually put the lives of others before their own.