Just Like Police Employees, We Each Speak For Ourselves

Cop Block is a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goal of police accountability. That text is atop the page CopBlock.org/About and is included on the thousands and thousands of business cards that have been distributed.

Near the bottom of CopBlock.org/Groups it’s noted:

Cop Block is decentralized – there’s no mandatory process on the way your group has to take shape. That said, we’re a community. We can learn from each other.

Pretty much the only thing that could be construed as a point of commonality that I personally communicate to those who reach out with interest in getting involved or in starting a group is the non-initiation of force. In no uncertain terms, violence is not condoned except in the defense of self or others.

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Part of an email response sent to someone who expressed interest in being a “member” of Cop Block

Since the launching of CopBlock.org four years ago, some have expressed concern about having such an “open” policy. “What if,” they noted, “someone claims themselves as ‘Cop Block’ and goes out and damages property or physically hurts others? Aren’t you worried about potential negative repercussions?” Or, “What if the Feds wanted to target y’all and faked a bomb plot and claimed it was the doing of Copblockers?”

As I tell them, such scenarios only underscore the need for transparency, for making clear where one stands, and that it is individuals who act and are thus responsible for their actions.

Still, some conflate the actions of a person to a group. That is the reason for this post – to articulate that each person flying under the Cop Block banner does not speak for everyone else involved with Cop Block (including this post, which speaks only for myself). We are autonomous beings.

Case in point – a guy with a camera in a Midwest town who happened to be rocking a Cop Block shirt, who was a bit abrasive to a couple of people who asked not to be filmed. Upon learning of the exchange I emailed the gentleman and told him that yes, he had every right to film as the couple was in public (on the sidewalk), but I suggested that a good default in the future would be to heed such a request (unless they or someone else is getting beat-down by a police employee) and note to the couple when shutting off the camera, not in a I’m-holier-than-thou voice but as someone looking out, why it’s thought wise to record police interactions. Not only would that help to keep the peace at that moment, it’d leave open future interactions, as your stated rationale for wanting to film could be new information considered, and as bridges aren’t burned. I’m not sure that gentleman incorporated any of what I recommended but the time it took to send the email wasn’t great so I thought the effort worthwhile.

Yesterday, messages were received at Cop Block’s Facebook page from those who’d taken issue with some comments posted to the Southern Oklahoma Cop Block page, such as:

2014-01-23-southern-oklahoma-copblock-1There’s no disagreement on the fact that we each have the right to self-defense. We each own ourselves and have the right to defend ourselves, no matter who is the aggressor. That point was made in the video When Should You Shoot A Cop?. But making a blanket call for “violence on pigs” isn’t something I personally support, thus I felt the need to write this post.

If your daughter is raped by the plumber would you be just in waging “violence on plumbers?” No. Is the person who raped her responsible? Yes.

But, you point out, “Comparing police employees to plumbers isn’t a fair comparison!” Why is that? Because police employees claim the “legitimate” right to initiate force? The key word – the assumed distinction – is “claim” and you’re not obligated to grant the claims of others.

If a stranger approaches you as you exit the bus and claims that you owe them $1,000 are you obligated to pay? Of course not. Why then would you believe that you’re obligated to buy into claims made by another stranger, who happens to wear a badge?

There’s been a massive propaganda campaign thrust upon you since birth, in government schools and via the corporate media, that says that certain people, based on their attire, aren’t responsible for their actions. It’s a bad idea that’s been peddled and bought into – often unthinkingly – by many. The false protection racket of policing, which facilitates some very bad actions and outcomes, won’t disappear as threats are lodged, but through the incorporation of better ideas, the withdrawal of tacit consent, and through non-cooperation (including not funding criminal outfits).

Adopting a “violence on pigs” mantra perpetuates the “us” and “them” paradigm. It dehumanizes the would-be victim. The bad idea that sets some people as more equal (those arbitrarily deemed an “authority” based on their title or costume) fuels the police state relies, which thrives on such a division. Police have one tool in their toolbox – violence. If they are confronted with violence, an even greater use of violence is said to be justified, and again, until that bad idea on which they rely is eroded, one mind at a time, many will cede such claims.

Open communication is healthy and in fact it’s necessary to prevent the gulf between police employees and non-police employees from growing wider. Whether it be a self-described police accountability advocate or a police employee – making a call for violence against “them” is not healthy or productive. It only leads further down a bleak, destructive path.

I tried to have such communication with Dustin McCaskill, the administrator of Southern Oklahoma Cop Block Facebook page, after similar comments he made in 2013 caught the attention of some local media. McCaskill and I, and some others, exchanged messages about the use of language and it soon became clear that McCaskill had no interest in further affiliation with Cop Block, and that’s fine, that’s his choice.

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Without question, McCaskill has done a lot of good through Southern Oklahoma Cop Block. To my knowledge, with over 7,000 Likes, it’s the largest Facebook page of any offshoot. And absolutely, he has the right to voice such thoughts, but that doesn’t preclude me from disagreeing with the approach taken.

To be clear, this post is made not to deride but because people have inquired about statements made via Cop Block’s Facebook page. I felt the need to delineate from the called-for wanton violence toward all those who work in an occupation, and to emphasize that we each speak for ourselves.

RELATED: Admin at Colorado Cop Block Strays from Non-Aggressive Mission, December 27, 2014 by Pete Eyre

EPN

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.