Berkeley Copwatch Setting Precedent

Berkeley Copwatch, established in 1990 to document and deter aggressive police employee actions against those homeless, has, and continues to be, a trailblazing organization.

Knowing ones’ rights and being aware of legislation said to exist in the area was key to another group founded in the California Bay – the Black Panthers. Berkeley Copwatch took that foundation and added a powerful tool – a videocamera, making them, and countless others who have since followed in their footsteps, effective documentarians of the truth.

Fast-forward almost a quarter century and their impact has multiplied thanks to emergence of other groups founded with similar motivations, and the existence of online video hosting sites like YouTube and the proliferation of inexpensive cameras and phones. As Andrew Prichett outlines in the video, there are many people now copwatching, under one banner or another, or under no banner. The idea of watching the watchers is unquestioned as a necessary action to protect oneself and others in the community.

Not finding justice via the criminals justice system for those most vulnerable, Berkeley Copwatch now utilizes People’s Investigations to conduct their own investigations and share the conclusions reached with those in their community.

Rather than continue to hope that an impartial finding will be had after a questionable death in police custody, Berkeley Copwatch is working around that failed system. This tactic can only become more commonplace as it’s realized that police outfits are unable to police themselves. That’s not necessarily caused because all police employees are purposefully malicious or scandalous, but due to the perverse incentives inherent in their institution (hint: it’s a coercive monopoly).

Working in conjunction with others so-motivated, Berkeley Copwatch members are appealing to the court of public opinion. It is this area – public opinion – and not text on paper, that Berkeley police and all police outfits ultimately rely on to continue business as usual. If Berkeley police employees continue to needlessly kill, area residents will see them for what they are – murderers, and one mind at a time, cease granting to any authority to those who claim it simply based on their attire.

Connect with Berkeley Copwatch to learn more about their efforts, their history, and to gain from the many resources they’ve developed and now house on their site:

Note that some of the content used in this video was collected in October, 2013, when in Oakland – stop #4 of the Police Accountability Tour


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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.