Civil Liberties

Cop Block: Cops May Do Bad Things, But Are White Guys Filming Them Worse?


Cleveland Scene magazine has a long profile of Cop Block, a national organization founded by libertarians from, surprise, New Hampshire dedicated to citizen observation and if possible prevention of police abuse and brutality.

While spending part of the article detailing how incredibly important it often proves to be to have a citizen video record to expose police lies, especially when it comes to their use of often fatal force, the author still seems dedicated to finding something weird and untoward about Cop Block. (Readers of Hit and Run are all too familiar with such stories of bad police behavior.)

He does note that Cop Block founder Pete Eyre:

speaks fluidly and subtly drops dismissive language about cops into the conversation with ease. They aren't police officers, they're police employees. The police don't wear uniforms, they wear costumes. A person isn't sent to prison, they're put in a cage.

But then author Doug Brown has to note that, hey, Cop Block seems to be made up of "pissed off suburban white men." This is not meant to show how much credibility they have.

Yet later he notes:

During a trip to Austin for the Peaceful Streets "Accountability Summit", the Sandusky [Cop Block] group met with Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panthers. "He's talking to us and he said 'you know, we walked around with those rifles not to defend ourselves, but so the cops would know who we were. It would put them on edge and make them do their job right,'" Gold says. "[Seale] said, 'The phones you carry around with you today are so much more powerful than those rifles we were walking around with back in the day.'"

Indeed, and it's probably far safer for a citizen filming a cop to be a "suburban white man," other things being equal, when it comes to considering how an officer is likely to treat the filming citizen.

The rest of the story is dedicated to describing a night out with Cop Blockers meant to make them seem like laughable ninnies, dissed by hot chicks, their foolishness tolerated by beleagured innocent cops, and making flailing nuisances of themselves as cops come by to do their real, important duty when someone is hurt.

It's a shabby performance, but at least open-minded readers of the full story will be reminded that the general mission of keeping a citizens' eye on cops as they do their work can be a matter of life-or-death justice.

Reason on Cop Block.