Copwatch Mural & Interviews in Harlem, Copblocking in Manhattan

UPDATE

Sunday, Aug. 25th, 2013 8:50am EST – just wanted to add the two videos below.

In the first video Jacob and I mention all the good folks we were able to connect with. As those video interviews are edited and shared they’ll be linked to from that video as an annotation, as well as included in the Police Accountability Tour playlist.

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I just got back from a full, fun and productive day here in NYC, the second stop of the Police Accountability Tour.

In the morning Jacob and I worked online from an area coffee shop. Then we assembled a loft bed for our bud with whom we’re staying as a token of thanks. At 4pm* we were on the corner of 138th & Adam Clayton Powell Blvd for the unveiling of a Copwatching inspired mural. After a number of solid people involved with the mural creation and on the ground Copwatching and training around NYC spoke others present were able to share some thoughts.

Jacob noted how blown away he is to be part of this growing crew. We both left with a t-shirt that says “Copwatch” on front and has “These streets are watching” on the back. The latter happens to be the name of a 50-min know your rights documentary Jacob created a decade ago after spending time on the ground with Copwatchers in Cincy, Denver and Berkeley. I encouraged folks present to realize that policing can never be fixed as now structured and encouraged the documenting/disseminating via outlets like CopBlock.org/submit.

After the speakers we captured on camera a lot of informative interviews. So much so that we didn’t leave until 8pm when my camera batteries were exhausted and our bellies were hungry. We caught a bite at Sylvia’s with our buddy Alvin and later, after parting ways, I hoofed around Manhattan for a bit.

I had a couple interactions with New York police employees, which I captured on my HD JVC camera** mounted to a monopod. I had attached my Rode shotgun mic and streamed via my Droid. The former is now being imported and converted and will be uploaded shortly to http://YouTube.com/CopBlockRaw and the later can be viewed at http://bambuser.com/channel/CopBlock

Below is the last encounter*** I had. My phone and video camera both died despite the charge both received when at Sylvia’s. I didn’t pack up but stayed present with my now-dead cameras pointing at the scene for a few more minutes. The police employees obviously weren’t aware that my gear needed some juice. Once the driver was put in handcuffs I started walking east towards Times Square.

Mr. Cheng, who was standing nearest to me, and who had been shadowing me (him on the street, me on the sidewalk) walked after me and said something like, “We need your information!”I responded, “Am I being detained?” Cheng again demanded my information. I asked for a second time, “Am I being detained?” “No” Cheng said. I continued on my way and wished him a good night. I didn’t want to be in his or his colleagues presence without being able to create an objective record of the exchange.

Cheng then called me a liar (as he’d previously indicated that the footage I captured would have to be shared with him so it can go to the driver if he sought a lawyer’s help, to which I’d told him that I had no problem sharing it with the driver directly), then “Coward.” I responded, “At least I don’t subsist on stolen coin.” The bystanders seemed supportive.

A long half-block down I asked a few gentleman standing near the corner if the Starbucks across the street was open 24hrs. I was told that it was. They asked me about my gear and I informed them of the interaction I just had. When noting the names of those involved, one of the gentleman echoed the name “Cheng…” When I asked if he knew Cheng he said, “lieutenant Cheng” as if he had a reputation. The two guys that had been about 30′ away to my east when I had been filming the police interaction approached and we had a good convo. They were appreciative of people looking out for each other.

I crossed the street and entered Starbucks but found all the outlets were covered by plates. I decided to head back to our crash spot.

help-fuel-the-police-accountability-tour-copblock

Shortly before the interaction above happened I had a question about a parking job:

Take-aways from today:

  • lots of good information was communicated at the mural unveiling – art is a powerful way to communicate ideas and bring people together
  • police accountability advocates are shedding fear, becoming better connected, and creating real supportive communities
  • technology is key to bypassing the claimed “authorities.” Bullies rely on the censoring of information. The liberation of information is powerful. Today I told folks both in Harlem and Manhattan about the ability to better protect themselves and others by streaming police interactions offsite using a free application like Bambuser (I pointed to http://CopBlock.org/Apps)
  • I concluded that I should buy one of the extended portable batteries like Luke Rudkowski utilizes
  • The interactions I had with NYPD employees reinforced how failed is the idea that “protection” can ever be provided by those who operate on a double-standard from the start. I was pretty friendly in my demeanor yet I was met by indifference at best and hostility at worst. Certainly transparency wasn’t a key trait
  • As John Bush says: “There’s strength in numbers, There’s strength in truth, and There’s strength in unity and we have all three”

With the content Jacob and I captured today we have about 20 videos to edit  and share. They’ll be posted to here to CopBlock.org and YouTube.com/TheCopBlock as that happens. We’re soon departing for Cape Town and should be a bit more efficient with our time as there will be less unpacking and packing.

* I also captured broll of the exterior of the Harlem Hospital per a passage I recently read in Malcolm X’s autobiography (below)
** I paid for the camera using Bitcoin (scroll to the bottom of this page to learn more about Bitcoin and to start utilizing yourself)
*** Note that I my approach and the initial interaction was captured by my JVC. For whatever reason my Droid had a glitch and wouldn’t stream so after attempting a couple of times I restarted the phone and it worked properly.

RELATED

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X
pg 238-9

Two white policeman, breaking up a street scuffle between some Negroes, ordered other Negro passers-by to “Move on!” Of these bystanders, two happened to be Muslim brother Johnson Hinton and another brother of Temple Seven. They didn’t scatter and run the way the white cops wanted. Brother Hinton was attacked with nightsticks. His scalp was split open, and a police car came and he was taken to a  nearby precinct.

The second brother telephoned our restaurant. And with some telephone calls, in less than half an hour about fifty of Temple Seven’s men of the Fruit of Islam were standing in rans-formation outside the police precinct house.

Other Negroes, curious, came running, and gathered in excitement behind the Muslims. The police, coming to the station house front door, and looking out of the windows, couldn’t believe what they saw. I went in, as the minister of Temple Seven, and demanded to see our brother. The police first said he wasn’t there. Then they admitted he was, but said I couldn’t see him. I said that until he was seen, and we were sure he received proper medical attention, the Muslims would remain where they were.

They were nervous and scared of the gathering crowd outside. When I saw our Brother Hinton, it was all I could do to contain myself. He was only semi-conscious. Blood had bathed his head and face and shoulders. I hope I never again have to withstand seeing another case of sheer police brutality like that.

graphic-malcolmx-quoteI told the lieutenant in charge, “That man belongs in the hospital.” They called an ambulance. When it came and Brother Hinton was taken to Harlem Hospital, we Muslims followed, i loose formations, for about fifteen blocks around Lenox Avenue, probably the busiest thoroughfare in Harlem. Negroes who never had seen anything like this were coming out of stores and restaurants and bars and enlarging the crowd following us.

The crowd was big, and angry, behind the Muslims in front of Harlem Hospital. Harlem’s black people were long since sick and tired of police brutality. And they never had seen any organization of black men take a firm stand as we were.

A high police official came up to me, saying “Get those people out of there.” I told him that our brothers were standing peacefully, disciplined perfectly, and harming no one. He told me those others, behind them, weren’t disciplined. I politely told him those others were his problem.

When doctors assured us that Brother Hinton was receiving the best of care, I gave the order and the Muslims slipped away. The other Negroes’ mood was ugly, but they dispersed also, when we left. We wouldn’t learn until later that a steel plate would have to be put in Brother Hinton’s skull. (After that operation, the Nation of Islam helped him to sue; a jury awarded him over $70,000, the largest police brutality judgment that New York City has ever paid.)


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Pete Eyre

Pete Eyre is co-founder of CopBlock.org. As an advocate of peaceful, consensual interactions, he seeks to inject a message of complete liberty and self-government into the conversation of police accountability. Eyre went to undergrad and grad school for law enforcement, then spent time in DC as an intern at the Cato Institute, a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, Directer of Campus Outreach at the Institute for Humane Studies, Crasher-in-Chief at Bureaucrash, and as a contractor for the Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2009 he left the belly of the beast and hit the road with Motorhome Diaries and later co-founded Liberty On Tour. He spent time in New Hampshire home, and was involved with Free Keene, the Free State Project and The Daily Decrypt.