Note that the videos below are all raw (shot with my HTC Evo 5 via Cop Block’s Bambuser channel, my chest-mounted GoPro, and/or my Canon Vixia HF R10. At the conclusion of The Cop Block Tour I’ll make time to put-together some solid, over-arching videos using content from this stop. In the meantime, if you are so-compelled, you’re welcomed and encouraged to utilize this content and all other content at CopBlock.org.
It was good to have finally made it to Columbia, a college town in northcentral Missouri. I had first planned a visit back in 2009 when on the road with the Motorhome Diaries. At that time the thing that caught my eye had been the shooting deaths of family dogs by individuals wearing “Columbia PD” badges. A stop through town didn’t happen on that tour as we had a little issue with our RV when in St. Louis, which delayed us, but I’m happy to say such negative incidents seemed to have lessened, especially as such a practice usually occurs during a drug raid – something that hasn’t been utilized since late 2011 due largely to the efforts of those involved with Keep Columbia Free.
When I walked into the venue and was greeted by Nick Recker, who was rocking a “This is What a Voluntaryist Looks Like” t-shirt, I knew I was in the right place. At the meetup tactics on how to best safeguard ones rights was broached, with input from many, strike the ideas (couched on self-ownership) as addressed, resources were distributed, and a number of us shared stories about what motivated us to be active to help bring-about police accountability, including Mark Flakne and others involved with the already-mentioned Keep Columbia Free, who together, have changed the conversation in town, Rick Gurley, a private investigator in the area, Howard Taylor, who drove two hours east with a friend to join the gathering, and who, on his comprehensive watchdog site lawreport.org, has compiled over 10,000 instances of police unaccountability, and Matt Aikens, who founded Citizens for Justice, after having his own subpar interactions with some individuals wearing “Columbia PD” badges, and who later found out that his peaceful actions – filming police employees – had resulted in those folks hanging his picture at their headquarters, similar to what some folks working out of the NYPD’s 30th Precinct when a due who filmed police actions were labeled “professional agitators.” This video is from Matt and his crew:
I didn’t have much interaction with Columbia police employees, this video just shows a guy on foot patrol having a conversation with another guy walking his dog. Overall the vibe, at least for the area and timeframe I was around, was pretty chill.
Except for the ransom note that appeared on my truck during a literal 10-min gap between coin deposits into a nearby meter. Oh well. It’ll likely be some time until I’m back through town and I doubt the gang there will find it worthwhile to track me down.
After the meetup one of the employees at the venue told me our mutual friend Mark Kois worked nearby, and noted that I could stop by if not in a hurry. I did, and ended up having a very thought-provoking conversation for a few hours with him before heading south for Rolla, to be positioned for my morning visit to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop I facility, to ask some questions about the lack of transparency around the Jeffrey Weinhaus shooting.
Oh yeah – a couple others present at the meetup were journalists for the student paper The Maneater (Columbia is home to the University of Missouri), which resulted in the write-up below.
While speaking to the group, Eyre referred to cops as “police employees,” bail as “ransom,” taxes as “stolen money” and jail as “a cage.”
“I believe there is a demand for safety and security but I do not think it’s best provided by a monopoly of coercion, which is what police are,” Eyre said.
Eyre and the other meeting attendants said they do not hate the police.
“Police are people,” Eyre said. “I don’t hate police. I want to have a conservation with them.”
According to those in attendance, the problems discussed were not just bad cops. Nicholas Recker, who attended the meeting out of interest, said the incentives are in all the wrong spots.
“There is a profit incentive for police crackdown on crimes that are essentially victimless, drugs or speeding,” Recker said. “But crimes that people actually care about, (like) theft … there is no incentive to spend the time it takes to solve it.”
Young said he feels differently.
“That is not true,” Young said, in response to Recker’s statement. “We don’t see any direct financial result from traffic fines. Any drug seizure funds are controlled by City Council. It’s not a factor in deciding what cases to pursue. We feel a huge burden to catch burglars.”
The attendees of the Cop Block meeting expressed distrust in their police departments.
“I think it’s a mistake to automatically trust someone because they are in a uniform,” Recker said.