The value of decentralization and public disassociation of Lauryn Beth Faulkner, Baltimore Copblock
My name is Toni Bones. I am one of the founders of MO/KS CopBlock and the founder of KCMO Copblock. When I got into Cop Block I knew that I was taking the right steps towards promoting accountability and transparency among law enforcement. I also knew that I would encounter lots of resources and solid people in my quest to empower others and help them protect themselves. I never knew, however, the profound impact it would have on my personal life and character. Through Cop Block, I have had the incredible privilege of meeting some of my favorite people. Along the way, I encountered the knowledge I didn’t even know that I needed to become the more principled, peaceful individual I have become today. I also credit these experiences for the courage and strength I needed to step out of the mold and become the confident, unschooling and more respectful mother I have had the honor of growing in to.
Above is the short bio I turned in when I had consented to participating in the Ladies of Cop Block calendar back in September/October of last year. While you probably won’t find this hanging on your wall this October, unfortunately, I feel the sentiment expressed in that paragraph is just as, if not more, true for me today than when I had wrote it initially. You may have heard a lot of discouraging or negative things surrounding this project but I would like to share with you some incredibly positive things that have come from this disheartening yet profound learning experience.
While I have come to find that much of what Lauryn expressed in the video above clearly has lacked the necessary attention, cooperation and follow through needed for success, one desire of hers stands out to me. She stated she wanted this project to encourage women to become more involved in the ‘liberty movement’ and to connect with each other. In the midst of everything else, I am thrilled to say that I have connected with some absolutely incredible women that I had not known before. I am confident the genuine connections made will continue to positively impact us all, even our communities, for years to come. I have made some true friends with some incredibly strong and brilliant women around this ‘country’ and I mean that sincerely. I felt a compulsion to acknowledge that. This alone is priceless and the value of such is nearly impossible to measure, in my humble opinion. So in that sense, Lauryn was successful in making something happen even if it was not necessarily how she may have initially intended it to. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank her for that. Thanks, Lauryn!!!!
In this particular article, you will find that I am making an effort to avoid straying off into the specific details as to why this project was such a complete disaster. It is lengthy and takes away from the actual motivation behind reaching out to you all today, which is to achieve resolution or accountability. Also, I don’t want you to take mine, or anyone else’s, word for it. This notion here is part of why I find transparency so valuable. You don’t have to decide who you want to believe when you can simply review the facts and come to your own conclusions. So by all means, don’t confuse that with me having ‘something to hide’. In fact, I encourage anyone with the time and/or interest to view much of the interactions that transpired leading up to the fall out and failure of what I thought would be an inspiring yet fun Cop Block project. You can satisfy your curiosity and concerns looking through the peacenewsnow article where Alma Sommers shared screenshots from the secret group Lauryn alone administrated for discussion and ‘project planning’. Also included are the public statements made by many of the girls involved as to why we felt it best to revoke our consent for participation. At the time, it felt almost like a desperate attempt to preserve the credibility and integrity built through our various forms of activism as we had asked our supporters, friends and family to send scarce resources to someone that was not trustworthy or competent enough to do so. I will share those with you below for easy review. Also, when engaging in a lifestyle that claims to highlight injustice and double standards, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hold ourselves to similar standards of decency.
“I chose to disassociate myself from the Ladies of CopBlock calendar project due to a lack of respect regarding major concerns with the final project voiced by myself and other participants.”
“After the project was delayed, the original intent of the product was lost. When evidence of where funds were could not be produced when asked, adhominem attacks were the only reply we got. This is why I chose to withdraw my involvement; however I continue to support CopBlock and the new Women of CopBlock.”
“I regret to inform my friends and supporters than I can no longer consent to involvement in a project I was led to believe was for copblock due to profound differences in principles. I have witnessed very little transparency, accountability or any other values I’ve learned to appreciate through cb. While I can not promise a calendar, I can promise I will not stop until the truth of the funds is made available and our generous donors be made aware of such. I am currently comfortable claiming that I believe Lauryn has committed fraud and gathered these funds on behalf of my friends and I to promote herself.”
“I chose to withdraw from the Ladies of CopBlock calendar due to philosophical differences. My goal is to promote spontaneous order and Agorist principles in all things. Concerns were met with a blatant disregard, instead of transparency, therefore loosing my support of this project. I strongly urge the donors to ask for their money back”
Josie Wales (Josie the Outlaw):
“My choice to disassociate from this project is due to lack of organization and major concerns voiced by many of those involved left unaddressed. However, I remain a strong supporter of CopBlock and new Women of CopBlock”
“After months of delays on the Ladies of CopBlock calendar, we were told the final product would be “amazing.” I think we all assumed a calendar was not that hard to make look good, and after such extreme delays, I was expecting something great. What we were shown as the ‘final product’ was not only hideous, it was filled with spelling and grammatical errors (my name wasn’t even spelled right). All the girls voiced their concerns, including the fact that the calendar was now so late that a couple of the months were no longer of use. Rather than address the concerns, our comments were met with anger and resentment. We were told it couldn’t change, cause the printers had already been paid a nonrefundable deposit. When I asked about this policy, the story changed to “no deposit, but the printer was prepaid, and we couldn’t get the money back”. Again, I asked about this policy, and the story changed again to “the money is in the bank account of Lauryn’s mother.” Because the story of where the money was kept changing, myself and others thought it would be best to get financial records and/or move the donated funds to a neutral 3rd party. Once again our requests were met with anger and verbal attacks. The general behavior came off as dishonest and angry; and the concerns of the girls regarding changes needed to the calendar were being disregarded and treated with utter contempt. For these reasons, I was no longer comfortable being a part of this project, as it was no longer clear where the money was or what the message of the project was. I hope the money is returned in full to the donors; however, I still have concerns that the money may be partially missing. I would hope that the donors could contact me if they are not refunded in full.”
One of the first things one might come across when wanting to learn about Cop Block (CB) is found on the about page and goes as follows;
“Cop Block is a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goal of police accountability.”
When I first started investing time in to this organization there were two things things that stuck out to me the most that I had not yet really experienced with other liberty oriented groups I had involved myself with in the past. The decentralization was not only refreshing but it quickly made a lot of sense to me, as well. Without writing a novel, which I tend to do, I will go over why this is so valuable and why I deem it necessary to highlight regarding this current situation.
In a decentralized organization, there is no hierarchy. No one is going to tell you what to do, how to do it and how often you should. Most of the people I’ve met in CB are supportive and appreciative of the activism one might be willing to engage in and the time donated, regardless of how much or little you are able to do. While I find that there are some valuable members who provide voluntary leadership and helpful direction, I have only encountered one individual claiming to be a copblock supporter that has chosen to blur the line and profound difference between leadership and management.
Appreciatively, that leads me to my next valuable take away regarding decentralization. This organization embraces and utilizes many voluntaryist values. For those of you not aware or familiar with voluntaryism, I will try to briefly and simply explain why this is so relevant to this particular situation although I believe you will find this applicable to many aspects of our lives. I believe that we own ourselves. I think the realization of this is the true essence of actual freedom and liberty. This is particularly liberating for me because, as long as I am not initiating force against a person or their property, I feel I should be free to live how I want and voluntarily interact with who I want. The notion or suggestion that another person, known to me or not, or entity, for that matter, having stake or claim to my life or fruits of my labor has almost always struck me as completely absurd and illegitimate. However, with the freedom received through the understanding of self ownership we come to the responsibility self governance entails. As an anarchist, or a free person, I shouldn’t and wouldn’t tell anyone how they should behave, do, live, copblock unless I genuinely feel someone is being wronged. With this responsibility and personal liberation comes the acceptance that the consequences of our choices, whether good or bad, should be ours alone. As someone who actively strives to be a conscious and principled woman, I take this seriously. I realize I am far from perfect and will make mistakes. I also understand that with enough introspection, I can positively impact the amount of poor decisions and negative consequences I deserve to cope with. The last thing I, or anyone, needs is to shoulder the undeserved guilt or repercussions of someone else’s actions. Cop Block helps put these ideas in to action with its decentralized nature. I will give a personal and hypothetical situation in an attempt to properly express the importance and relevance of this but I sincerely hope you find these basic principles can be utilized by yourself to positively impact the quality of your life, and those around you.
When I am copblocking, or sharing information with my community, I try to make it a point to be calm, nonthreatening and respectful while still being assertive – whether that individual necessarily ‘deserves’ that respect or not. Through my various forms of activism with CB I try to constantly keep in mind my specific intentions with interjecting myself in to these situations. One goal is to create an objective record that holds not only the officer, but everyone involved, accountable. With this I hope to prevent victims and to facilitate accountability and transparency with a form of evidence that leaves little room for dispute. In recording and making these interactions public, I hope to encourage the community to speak out against injustice and bullies, prevent kidnapping or prolonged incarceration and, hopefully, enough social pressure that encourages self reflection on the part of the aggressor that would ideally discourage them from continuing negative behavior in the future. Something I have learned by observing CB founder Pete Eyre is that showing someone kindness, respect and decency even though we know and feel what they are doing is immoral is not an act of submission or condoning their lifestyle choice. Self ownership or not, I understand that approaching law enforcement, especially, in a hostile manner could trigger scary behavior that might endanger not only myself but the people around me.
So lets say “Steve” has founded a CB group. He has made contact with CB, he is listed as a group and he is ready to go copblocking. He has his video camera and is ready to make what he feels will be some great youtube footage. He approaches the scene of a traffic stop and the officer becomes defensive or rude due to his recording. Steve becomes offended and proceeds to tell him that he is a fat, lazy pathetic example of uncultured swine and that he hopes he trips and falls down some stairs. Now the officer is furious and any number of things could happen ranging from more ransom notes to the victim out of frustration all the way to continuing a hostile exchange of words leading up to violence and the kidnapping of Steve. Personally, I’m not sure I care how someone chooses to CB as long as they are prepared to cope with the consequences. Should this behavior be a reflection of me because I am associated with CB? Should his behavior be a reflection of CB itself? No, of course not. Steve owns Steve, Steve made choices, Steve is now dealing with these consequences whether they are right, wrong or indifferent is irrelevant in this understanding. Please keep this in mind throughout the rest of this article.
The second thing that enthralled me with this particular cause is that while sharing countless instances of injustice, violence and various other atrocities with somewhere around 200,000 individuals via CopBlock.org and over a million people a month via social networking, the primary focus is on trying to create solutions and sharing various ideas in hopes of promoting peace and creating positive impact. I have always been impressed in how there is so much more than meets the eye and how it really is not all about dwelling on the negativity without offering hope or resolution.
It is with extreme disappointment that I feel a moral obligation to go back to the topics of accountability, personal responsibility and a severe lack of transparency in regards to the founder of Baltimore Copblock, Lauryn Beth Faulkner and her self imposed attempted dictatorship while working on the Ladies of Copblock calendar project. Through Kickstarter and a Bitcoin bomb, almost two thousand dollars was pledged to us to complete this project. This money was collected do to the combined forces of some incredible women who have earned the respect and credibility among generous liberty supporters through their various forms of activism.
As noted above regarding decentralized nature of our group I really don’t feel comfortable talking on behalf of the combined diverse group of individuals that is CB when I say that I genuinely feel it would be beneficial to both the perception of our credibility as well as our productivity as a movement to publicly disassociate ourselves with Lauryn Beth Faulkner of Baltimore Copblock. While I am still uncomfortable stating what follows, I am going to go ahead and do it because I genuinely feel it is the right thing to do.
As the founder of KCMO CopBlock and co-founder of Mo/Ks Copblock, I am publicly disassociating myself with Lauryn Beth Faulkner and will continue to strongly suggest that anyone involved in either of our groups, as well as anyone else who favors honesty and liberty, against associating with this individual in both personal or professional matters. I truly do not say this in spite but in hopes of preventing future victims.
While I had not really heard much of Lauryn, I respected her involvement with copblock and considered her a friend. She is a self-proclaimed voluntaryist and I foolishly trusted her based on the assumption we held similar view points and principles. I have since learned, this is simply not the case. I could sit here and write a few more novels describing the distasteful interactions had with Lauryn but I think it would be more honorable and productive to pick a few examples of her choices that have led me to come to this disheartening conclusion. As more becomes transparent, as well as what has been hosted by peacenewsnow, I really feel any individual that is not emotionally involved with her can review the evidence provided and verify that I am, in fact, being honest in the following ‘accusations’.
Sufficient verifiable evidence of original fund amounts, allocation and whereabouts have yet to be confirmed. I began inquiring in November about screen shots, a budget, a ledger or the like as assertively and respectfully as I could muster. This was met with hostility, slander, perverted comments I will not burden you with reading and then eventually, banning me from the group. As of today, there is no proof of the original funds being in her possession.
Regardless of consistent pressure to relinquish evidence and then to relinquish the funds to a third party, Pete Eyre, this has not occurred. Suggestions were met with slander, hostility, censorship, sexual harassment, lies and even calls from her, and her mother, screaming at the ladies donating their time and reputations to this project. She was then informed by donors and activists involved that she needed to return all resources to the donors as her obligation to provide a calendar was not met. She has been claiming to be in the process of refunding the donors now for almost a month.
Yesterday I began a call flood to promote resolution and was informed, for the second time, she was going to sue me and then have me arrested. Many donors to my knowledge called her and were ignored or cussed out. She has claimed she will press ‘felony charges’ on me because I released her number to the public and donors so they could inquire themselves as to the where abouts of the donations. I perceive this, as absurd as it is, as a threat of violence. All options I have utilized have not included the state or men with guns that have a history of violence. The fact that I, myself, have not yet called her since the call flood began is irrelevant. The obvious concern expressed by those taking part in this form of social pressure, however, I do find relevant. For someone claiming voluntaryism, I have yet to see any consistent qualities that reflect that during my interactions with her.
In closing, I would like to say that during all of my time with CB, the vast majority of those I have met, while diverse and scattered geographically, have been good, honorable and pleasant people with a genuine desire to create a safer community. I want to say that I sincerely hope you do not confuse this persons behavior as a reflection of CB or that this detours you from donating to projects in the future. I do, however, encourage you to do your research as I failed to do. Whether it is my fault or not, I feel the need to apologize profusely to our supporters. There really are some incredible people doing amazing things and it would be awful if the actions of one person kept them from receiving well deserved help.
Meanwhile, I encourage you to contact Lauryn and urge her to come clean or refund the donors immediately so we can all shift our attention to our initial intention: being productive and inspiring.
Thank you for your time,
Mo/Ks Copblock Bambuser / Facebook / YouTube / firstname.lastname@example.org
KCMO Copblock Facebook