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This stunning abuse of authority shows clearly the lengths to which some officers will go to retaliate against citizens that flex their rights.

napa-california-police-checkpoint-copblock

Napa, Calif. – On August 22, Johnathan Travis Moore, was stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Napa, California, according to the Napa Valley Register. Passenger Ryan Tregaskis was filming on his cellphone as the stop took place.

While courts across the nation have upheld citizens right to record police in the carrying out their official duties, many officers act as if this is a personal affront to them.

Thankfully, citizens continue to proactively patrol their communities to ensure that officers are following the letter of the law in spite of the often agitated manner in which officers respond to being recorded.

In this particular incident, upon making contact, California Highway Patrol Officer Phil Ross asked the driver for identification and was rebuffed. The driver cited existing case law regarding reasonable suspicion of criminal activity being needed for him to be required to show his identification.

While the video of the incident has been removed, the story still remains on Cop Block’s website. 

On August 23, 2014 my friend and I went through a checkpoint in Napa, California. They have these checkpoints listed as DUI / Driver license checkpoints, which, as Copblockers, we all know is not legal. We went through it and proceeded to inform the officers that we do not have to present any form of ID.

It was amazing how uninformed these officers were when it came to this issue. A highway patrol officer even had the audacity to say he could pretty much make us do whatever he wanted with or without reasonable suspicion.

After being turned away, Ross informed Sgt. Brian Campagna, who was supervising the DUI checkpoint, that a driver was refusing to show his driver’s license.

Eventually Campagna acquiesced and allowed the men to leave without having to show their identification, but took down the license plate number of the car, according to court documents.

In a clearly retaliatory move, after realizing that the video of the encounter had been posted on YouTube, which showed the CHP officers being schooled by the cars occupants on the law, Campagna moved a California court to obtain search warrants for the occupants of the cars cell phones and computers.

Campagna claimed in court documents that the men “conspired to enter the checkpoint to commit a crime, specifically with the intent to resist/obstruct and delay officers at the checkpoint.”

This stunning abuse of authority shows clearly the lengths to which some officers will go to retaliate against citizens that flex their rights.

What is even more frightening is that a judge would sign this warrant, as it is clearly a means of retaliation by the officer for being “Cop Blocked.”

This action is part of a growing trend of systematic attempts at intimidation towards those that attempt to hold officers accountable. Attempts to criminalize legal behavior shows a simplistic and dangerous mindset entrenched in law enforcement.

The labeling of police accountability groups as “criminal extremists,” has already taken place many metropolitan cities across the America.

Recently, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, information has come to light that shows the lengths to which some departments will go in their attempts to criminalize those that peacefully strive for police accountability.

According to Truthout, veteran police accountability activist José Martín said,

“When cop watchers are retaliated against, if the community is organized, if there is a strong relationship between cop watch patrols and the community, but most importantly, if the cop watchers are people of the community, that community has the power to push back against retaliation and prevent its escalation. Retaliation doesn’t work if you stand together.”

The time is now for people to organize and stand together, we must continue to press for accountability and refuse to let injustice stand.

 


Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis and on Facebook at Sir Metropolis.


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