Despite being lied to, threatened with confinement in a cage, and assaulted by Stokes, employed at the Gray County (TX) Sheriff’s Outfit (806-669-8022), Andrew, who had been peaceably videotaping some road pirate activity in Pampa, TX, did an excellent job asserting his rights in this video interaction captured in early April (though the video was only made live a few days ago).
Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights and Photography Is Not a Crime!
Yesterday Amanda Billyrock and I sat-down to share our thoughts on Andrew’s video via CopBlock.org/Live. Unfortunately, I realized after broadcasting, that Andrew’s video had been visible only to us. This morning I became more familiar with the functionality of Google Hangout On Air (attempt #1, attempt #2) and now know how to ensure that both those who record or view (live or the recorded broadcast) are able to see and hear the video being discussed.
Still, I wanted to share this piece of content to help put Andrew’s actions on the radar of more people as I think it is a superb example of how to stay cool when being confronted.
From the start, when noting the time, date and location, Andrew did great.
Perhaps the only thing Andrew could have differently was that initially, he disclosed to Deherrera, an employee of the Pampa Police outfit (who approached when Andrew was recording the road pirate activity) that he’d previously been photographing the court. DeHerrera then incorporated that tidbit of information provided into a narrative, which he said pointed to a possibility that Andrew was “suspicious.”
That same fear-based mentality was exhibited, to much greater extend, by Stokes, who tried to assuage his assault of Andrew by pointing to 9-11, apparently referencing the date of when three buildings in NYC were imploded.
As queried by Andrew, “Thirteen years later a boy in Pampa with a video camera is a terrorist threat?”
Andrew never acted in the wrong, and he knows that. Though Stokes lies repeatedly, stretches the truth, and threatens force, Andrew remained confident, and easily rebutted Stokes’ circular-logic.
When Stokes Stokes told Andrew that he was “fixing to arrest” him, Andrew laughed and asked him a question – “For what? No crime?” And rightly so. That must have been disempowering to Stokes.
If Stokes felt so brazen in his attempt to trip Andrew up and then cage him, despite being filmed, I wonder how he’s treated others in the area in the past.
And Stokes assaulted Andrew – he initiated force. He attempted to steal his camera – a tool that merely captures the truth of the situation. It’s no wonder that Stokes – like any bully – fears such transparency.
I’d argue that it would have been more just for Andrew to disarm Stokes*, than for Stokes to take Andrew’s camera. Andrew harmed no one filming. If anything, he created a positive externality as his filming of police employees helps to safeguard rights. Stokes, meanwhile, pretended to have the right to stop Andrew and tell him he’s not free to continue, to talk, or to record. “I’m in control, you’re not.”
Stokes actions – so clearly in the wrong, and his course of questioning – not finding purchase, his friends Deherrera, Roberts and another Pampa police employee removed themselves from his proximity. Rogers soon interjected himself, motioned for Stokes to step back from Andrew, and a short time later Andrew, who’d asked “Am I free to go? Am I being detained?” was on his way into the Pampa night, liberated both in mind and body.
The interaction Andrew documented was only on the surface about recording video – it is at its core about obedience. Stokes operated as if he has the right to bully people around. The sooner we each see that he, and no one, has extra rights, the sooner the institutionalized violence of the police apparatus ceases.
*keep in mind that Stokes, by the very nature of his gig, subsists on money taken from individuals in his community under the guise of “protection” – would you be hire Stokes to help keep you safe?
ANDREW / AMARILLO COPBLOCK
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GRAY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OUTFIT
- 218 N. Russell Pampa, TX 79065
PAMPA POLICE OUTFIT
- Deherera #910
- + third, unknown employee
- 200 W Foster Ave, Pampa, TX 79006
- Texas Deputies Harass Man for Legally Filming Them (Video) by Michael Allen on June 06, 2014 http://opposingviews.com/i/society/media/texas-deputies-harass-man-legally-filming-them-video
- Texas Deputy Assaults Videographer, Blames 9/11 by Carlos Miller on June 05, 2014 http://photographyisnotacrime.com/2014/06/05/texas-deputy-assaults-videographer-blames-911
- Film The Police http://CopBlock.org/FilmThePolice
- Copblocking101 http://CopBlock.org/Copblocking101
- Know Your Rights http://CopBlock.org/KnowYourRights