Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cop Watcher in Santa Cruz shut down by private security guards

Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz: [link]

"Cops Claim Metro Bus Center "Private Property" To Shut Down Disabled Advocate with Video" 
2014-07-31 by Robert Norse []:
I received a report yesterday from disability advocate John Colby. Colby observed SCPD Officer Scott Freeman and two First Alarm Security guards at the Metro Transit Center taking an intoxicated man to a squad car. Colby became concerned, having seen the video of last year's "face first drop to the sidewalk" of Richard Hardy by Officer Vasquez ("SCPD Officer Vasquez Slams Drunk Man's Face On Pavement" at To document the incident, Colby pulled out his video device. He reports being denounced by a female supervisor who refused to give any ID. She and the guards booth insisted he stop recording because the Public Transit Center was "private property". SCPD Officer Freeman made no attempt to protect Colby's rights.
Colby noted that the incident began around 5:30 p.m. near the central "coffee shop" area the Transit Center where he was waiting for his bus. When he pointed his video device at the incident, a supervisor indignantly demanded what his business was in the Center and then advised him that videoing was not allowed. Colby asked what law was involved, upsetting her. After storming off, she returned with another security guard in tow. John explained to them that he was in an area open to the public and that it was public property. She then pulled out a smart phone, said "I'm going to take a picture of you". John replied "go ahead" and smiled and waved into the camera.
Colby also expressed some concern that the one of the First Alarm Security guards began riffling through the man's pockets and wondered if that wasn't beyond the legitimate powers of private security. The angry supervisor and several security guards, he noted, continued to confer and gesture at him, gathering near the bus that he normally took home. "I felt intimidated," he said, "I wondered if she was seeking more information or trying to make trouble for me with the drivers.
Out of fear of further harassment and delay, John put away his recorder under pressure from the security guard.
As well he might. But I'm glad Colby spoke up for everyone's right to be at the Metro and document police behavior there. I've suffered arrest and conviction for doing the same in the past (See "Ticketing for Standing and Talking at the Metro Bus Stop Sunday" at ). However in spite of a false conviction, I have not altered my treatment of the Metro as a public space. Several weeks after I got my citation 6 years ago, I led a protest at the Metro which freely assembled and videoed. (See "Rotkin Claims: No Flyering Allowed at the Metro Center" at )
Later at home, Colby said he followed up by calling the police numerous times to request an informational report from Freeman to document any further misinformation to the public about "illegality". After four hours and numerous calls, Colby eventually got a response from Sgt. Christian Le Moss Le Moss, Colby reports, was polite and agreed that he had the right to record, as did the other officer. Le Moss agreed to "educate" security guards on the issue to avoid future such attacks. Colby requested a copy of a report of the incident to document that promise.
One wonders why Officer Freeman didn't advise the Security Guards and the Supervisor that Colby had the right to record, and to leave him alone. Or at least not to misinform him. Damage control later by Le Moss, however politely given, doesn't mean Metro authorities won't pull this nonsense at the next journalist or passing pedestrian who wants to capture a questionable incident on video or audio.

Corrections by John Colby 2014-08-01:
To correct the article, Officer Freeman in no way was negligent. Officer Freeman took my information report and agreed to educate Metro staff and 1st Alarm Security guards. Sergeant LeMoss was not doing "damage" control: he agreed with my POV and was very polite.
Both Sergeant LeMoss and Officer Freeman were extremely professional. Both of them were courteous to me.
I was not harassed by "cops". I was harassed by Metro staff and 1st Alarm security guards.

UPDATE: "Apologies to Officer Freeman" by Robert Norse, 2014-08-02:
On further conversation with John Colby, he clarified the initial harassment from Metro security and the supervisor happened at a distance of 40' from SCPD Officer Freeman. Colby also noted that he had no impression that Freeman was aware of the recording incident until he returned a phone call later. At that point, Colby noted, Freeman expressed no knowledge of it and affirmed his right to record.
Given an even more recent incident of SCPD harassment of a video Copwatcher ( ), I think it's far from unusual for some SCPD officers to mislead members of the public and the media as to their rights in this matter. It's always easier for police agencies if no one is watching.
I do retain my skepticism that Sgt. Le Moss was doing other than "damage control", since I suspect there are regular interactions if not official meetings between Metro security and SCPD. I can't imagine this issue (of folks recording incidents at the Metro) hasn't come up before.
But I'm sorry my initial communication with Colby wasn't clearer and glad the matter has been cleared up.
I encourage others to report in how compliant police officers are on the street when you pull our your video device.

"What is the SCPD's policy about 'cop-watching'?" 
2014-08-01 letter from Dr. John Colby to Kevin Vogel, Chief of Police of Santa Cruz:
Dear Chief Vogel:
I am writing to serve you notice that the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) harasses "cop-watchers" protecting the civil rights of people in protected classes like people of color which has been witnessed by my sister and I -- but today we were able to video record this harassment. To the point:
** This afternoon around 1:30 PM SCPD Officer Bill Azua illegally cited an African American man -- grouped with other African Americans -- in downtown Santa Cruz for smoking while my sister and I observed that this man had not been smoking.
** Officer Azua took this man aside and ran him for priors -- also illegally -- while he was citing him for smoking. I approached Officer Azua while he was detaining this African American man with my video camera. Officer Azua not only refused to identify himself, but also demanded that I move back. I asked Azua how far I needed to move back. Azua responded that I must move so that "I [he] couldn't see me." Clearly this would prevent me from video recording the incident. I moved back five feet then asked Azua is that was far enough. Azua replied, "No." I moved back five more feet. Again I asked Azua if I was far back enough. He refused to answer. Another officer came to Azua's side and also refused to identify himself. This incident lasted for several minutes as captured on digital video. As the officers left I video recorded them. The unidentified officer pointed a video camera at me.
** The African American men walked away. Azua followed them in his car to Laurel Street fronting the Taco Bell. He was then accompanied by SCPD Officer Ahlers from the Gang and Drug Task force. Azua and Ahlers took an imposing stance watching these men. I asked Officer Ahlers to identify himself. He ignored me. I asked Officer Azua to identify himself. He refused. Azua accused me of harassing them. I asked him if asking for identification constituted harassment. He replied that me talking to police officers when they didn't want to speak with me constituted harassment.
** A Pacific Ave, Taco Bell employee walked past Azua while smoking a cigarette. Azua did nothing. After I began video recording this employee, she became angry and began speaking with Azua while she had a burning cigarette in her hand. Azua did not cite her for smoking a cigarette -- she was Caucasian. The manager of the Taco Bell demanded that I stop video recording his employees from the public sidewalk. I informed him this was legal. He implied that he would have Officer Azua take action against me if I continued to video record.
** Minutes later my sister was on the telephone with SCPD Sergeant Jones. this sergeant defended Azua's demand that I move out of sight while video recording. In response to my question about how far "cop-watchers" should be from SCPD officers while video recording, Jones replied 40-50 feet. I responded that this was too far, that it would prevent any audio recording. I asked Jones what statute or policy supported this. He said it was his "opinion".
** Officer Azua and another Police Officer in another car continued to circle around the area, following these African American men, apparently to harass them

To clarify the demands and opinions of Azua and Jones, I am making a request under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). I ask for:
* the most current documents which describe the SCPD's policies about citizens (video) recording SCPD personnel.
* If these records are available electronically, then I ask that they be made available to me electronically. I am willing to pay a fee of up to $5 for this request.
Thank you for providing me records which will shed light on what happened today.
Sincerely yours,
[signed] John E. Colby, Ph.D.

From: Jacqueline Drechsler <>
Date: Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 3:14 PM
Subject: SCPD PRA Response - Subject: What is the SCPD's policy about "cop-watching"?
To: "John Colby"
Mr. Colby,
The SCPD does not have any responsive records to your request.
Thank you, [signed] Jacqui Drechsler

Friday, July 25, 2014

United Farm Workers (UFW) union email service hit by systemwide stoppage

“Oops...System crashed, but OK now: Speak out to protect farmworkers from pesticides” message sent 2014-07-25 from “United Farm Workers (UFW)” [ufw@)]: Sorry for the re-send. The company that supplies our listserve had a systemwide failure and that caused a crash. Everything is up and working now, so please give us another chance and click to take action.
[Original message]
Speak Out to Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides by Aug. 18
On Feb. 20, the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed changes to the Worker Protection Standard, which protects workers who are exposed to pesticides. Some of the proposed changes will be beneficial to workers, and some will not. The public comment period, which ends on Aug. 18, gives you the opportunity to tell the EPA that farmworkers deserve these protections. Support farmworkers by leaving your comment now.
We depend on the nation’s farmworkers to provide us with our food and nutrition. Exposure to pesticides is a daily reality for the 2.5 million farmworkers who toil in our fields, orchards, and greenhouses in the U.S. Without basic protections, farmworkers are at risk for both acute illness and long-term health conditions associated with these exposures. Moreover, their families endure pesticide exposure when chemicals are brought home on workers’ clothes and belongings.
Because of an exemption in federal law, farmworkers are not safeguarded by OSHA from pesticide exposure. Instead, it is the responsibility of the EPA to protect farmworkers against the effects of pesticide exposure on the health of farmworkers and their families. Under the WPS — even with the proposed updates — farmworkers’ protections are inferior to the protections of workers in other industries.
Tell the EPA to take action now and quit pandering to corporate agribusiness. It has the authority and responsibility to protect farmworkers.

Did you know? Pesticide exposure causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce in the nation.
EPA Comment deadline is August 18th
Sign now! []

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Justice for Frank Alvarado! (d.2014-07-10, Salinas)

"Frank Alvarado Speaking on Prison Expansion, Two Months Before He Was Killed by Salinas Police"
posted 2014-07-11 by Alex Darocy []:

Frank Alvarado was killed by Salinas Police on July 10 and very little information has been released by authorities about the circumstances of his death. This footage of Frank Speaking on prison reform is from May 14, 2014 in Santa Cruz.
Residents and representatives of community organizations in Santa Cruz rallied outside of the court house at that time to voice their strong opposition to the Governor's May revise budget, which called for an increase in spending for jail and prison expansion.
Frank spoke strongly about the importance of budgeting state money for social programs instead of prison expansion, and he shared his personal experience of incarceration, describing his release from prison in July of 2013.
Frank spoke about having multiple counts/strikes on his record.
He shared his strong feeling of love for his son, who he said was voted police cadet of the year in 2013 at a police department in California.
"He is my champ. He is my number one little guy, and he is the smartest individual I could have ever made," he said.
He described how prison destroyed their relationship. In an interview that day, Frank said that he was very proud of his son for becoming a police officer, but that they were still estranged.
Frank was extremely remorseful about committing the acts that brought him to prison. He said he shot people, and that he did 11 years for attempted homicide and assault with a deadly weapon. After getting out of prison he said he relished the idea of helping people, however, and he described the joy it gave him.
"I walked in Santa Cruz," he said, "and I picked a flower off a plant and I gave it to somebody, and I put a smile on their face."
He spoke about having a grandparent with prostate cancer and telling the close relative not to worry because he would be there for him, and that it would be his turn to change diapers if necessary.
Frank was well known to activists with Sin Barras, a Santa Cruz prison abolition group that was one of the organizers of the May 14 rally at which Frank spoke. Members of Sin Barras have described their deep affection for him, as well as deep sadness and anger over his killing.
According to the authorities, Frank was killed at around 5am on July 10 at Fairview Avenue and Beverley Drive in Salinas. The SPD hasn't released any details beyond those, and they referred the news media and the public to the Monterey County District Attorney's Office, which will be handling the investigation.
The killing of Frank Alvarado is preceded by three other killings in 2014 by officers with the Salinas Police Department.
On March 20, Angel Ruiz was shot and killed by officers with the SPD outside of a Wing Stop restaurant. On May 9, Osman Hernandez, who was carrying a lettuce knife, was killed by the SPD outside of the Mi Pueblo Market at the corner of Alisal and Sanborn. Carlos Mejia was carrying a pair of garden shears when he was killed by SPD officers outside of a bakery at the corner of Del Monte and Sanborn on May 20.
All of the killings have taken place in East Salinas.
To read more about the May 14 prison expansion rally in Santa Cruz, see:
"Increases in Prison and Jail Spending in Governor's Revised Budget Opposed in Santa Cruz" []

Friday, July 11, 2014

Suspicious Activity Reporting program

"An FBI Counterterrorism Agent Tracked Me Down Because I Took a Picture of This"
2014-07-11 by James Prigoff []:
This is a statement from one of the plaintiffs speaking at Thursday's press conference announcing the ACLU's lawsuit challenging the government's controversial Suspicious Activity Reporting program.

Good morning. My name is James Prigoff. I am 86 years old and a retired senior corporate executive, having been president of a Levi Strauss division and previously the senior vice president of the Sara Lee Corporation in Chicago. I am also a professional photographer – in fact, I have been a photographer for most of my life. My specialty is photographing murals, graffiti art, and other community public art. I am the co-author of three books utilizing my photographs, one of which, Spraycan Art, has sold over 200,000 copies. My photographs appear in countless other publications and my photography has been exhibited at the Smithsonian in Washington and in many other galleries. I have lectured on photography and public art in museums, universities, and venues worldwide.
I have never had an experience like I had when attempting to photograph the "Rainbow Swash" outside Boston in 2004. Let me explain.
The Rainbow Swash is an iconic piece of public art near Boston painted on the circumference of a 140-foot high liquefied natural gas storage tank in 1971 and repainted in 1992 at an adjacent site. It is actually one of the largest copyrighted pieces of art in the world. The original artist was Korita Kent.
I went to Dorchester, Mass., to photograph it, but before I could take a picture, I was confronted by two security guards who came through their gate and told me I could not because the tank was on private property. I pointed out that I, being well outside the fenced area, was not on private property – but they insisted I leave. If one goes to Wikipedia there are number of excellent close-up shots for the entire world to see.
A few months later, I found a business card on the front door of my home in Sacramento from Agent A. Ayaz of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, asking me to call him. One of my neighbors, an elderly woman, told me that two men wearing suits had come to her door to ask her about me, her neighbor.
When I called Agent Ayaz, he asked if I had been in Boston recently. At that moment I realized that the security guards at the Rainbow Swash site must have taken down the rental car license plate number and reported me to a law enforcement agency. I never gave the guards any information about myself, so I must have been traced across country via my rental car record.
So, consider this: A professional photographer taking a photo of a well-known Boston landmark is now considered to be engaged in suspicious terrorist activity?
I lived through the McCarthy era, so I know how false accusations, surveillance, and keeping files on innocent people can destroy their careers and lives. I am deeply troubled that the SAR program may be recreating that same climate of false accusation and fear today.
Photography is an important part of my life, and I plan to keep photographing public art and public places that contain WPA murals and other architectural sites – as I have been doing for 69 years. Why have my artistic pursuits landed me in a national database potentially linking me to "terrorist" activities? There is no reason for it. This program must be stopped.


Justice for Andy Lopez Cruz! (d. 2013-10-22; Santa Rosa) [link]

Justice for Andy Lopez – Jailhouse 4 Gelhaus!
Justice Protestors to March Behind Lopez Coffin through Downtown Santa Rosa Streets To Federal Bldg. to Demand DOJ Investigation, Families of 5 Victims of Police Related Deaths to speak – Half Moon Bay, Santa Rosa, Dublin, San Francisco.
Rally Saturday 1 p.m. Old Courthouse Sq. downtown Santa Rosa.
Justice protestors in Santa Rosa will again take to the streets tomorrow in mass numbers to protest DA Ravitch’s whitewash and full exoneration of Deputy Gelhaus - who shot and killed 13-year old Andy Lopez on October 22, 2013 asAndy walked on a public thoroughfare with a toy airsoft gun. Within 10 seconds of pulling up on Andy, 7 of Deputy Gelhaus’ bullets riddled Andy’s body snatching his young life.
Residents of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County are furious and deeply outraged at the continuing pattern and practice of police misconduct that is blessed and green lighted by the district attorney’s office. In 2000 the Department of Justice Commission on Civil Rights issued an official report blasting the Sonoma County Sheriffs Department and the Santa Rosa police for a pattern of excessive force and prolonged misconduct, including an inordinate number of civilian deaths.
Sine that 2000 Report – 64 more Sonoma County residents have died in police-related incidents. “This is an evil epidemic that continues unabated and a never ending threat to live at the hands of  law enforcement and the district attorney’s office. Since the murder of Andy on Oct. 22nd, we’ve experienced 5 additional deaths in police related incidents – almost 1 per month! Jill Ravitch’s whitewash of Gelhaus’ responsibility for killing Andy flashed a green light for law enforcement that she has their back. All a cop has to say to justify a killing is that he or she was afraid for their lives no matter how young the victims. That’s bullshit and condones murder of innocent civilians.”
The rally at Old Courthouse Square will include speakers who are surviving family members of other area victims of police violence, such as the shooting of Alejandro Nieto in San Francisco, Oscar Grant’s family from Oakland, Oscar Herrera the father of Oscar Herrera gunned down in the families home on May 5th when his mother was shot as well, family members of murdered 18-year old Yanira Serrano killed June 3d in Half Moon Bay and family members of DeVillena Estella Allan - a US Marine killed by Palm Springs police.
Following the rally, Justice protestors will take their anger into the streets of downtown Santa Rosa to let all the wine-county tourists and downtown shoppers know that Sonoma County streets are no longer safe for civilians. The marchwill wind its way behind a coffin symbolizing the 64 Sonoma County deaths since 2000. At the Federal Building at 777 Sonoma Ave. Protesters plan to leave behind the image of the 64 Sonoma County residents who have died since 2000. Look down to see their images on Saturday. Their deaths will not be forgotten.

Sonoma County D.A. Report Appendix E

Appendix E (of A through E) from the Sonoma County D.A. Report on Andy Lopez Shooting.
Links to all sections of the complete report at [link].

Sonoma County D.A. Report Appendix D

Appendix D (of A through E) from the Sonoma County D.A. Report on Andy Lopez Shooting.
Notes from JB Tucker, investigative journalist, are noted by the yellow square, and are produced below the individual pages. Links to all sections of the complete report at [link].

Note by JB for Sonoma County DA Report Appendix D pg. 7:
Can you hold a replica the same way you hold a 10.5 pound real weapon?   The replica may have the appearance of a real weapon but the  appearance will be obviously different from the way you hold it, especially to somebody who has held one before.

Note by JB for Sonoma County DA Report Appendix D pg. 8:
This expert should spend more time on Heisenberg's "Uncertainty Principle," "impossibility" theorems, and "Ockham's Razor" than St. Augustine and Descarte, especially because Augustine is applicable to Roman law (Napoleonic Code) system and not necessarily to Anglo Saxon common law systems of justice.  He should also consider whether Descarte's cogito ergo sum is more relevant than Jose Ortega y Gasset's "I live therefore I think."

Note by JB for Sonoma County DA Report Appendix D pg. 11:
This whole matter would have more light shown on it if somebody had bothered to do a re-enactment at the scene with Andy Lopez size similar age males holding the replica and a real AK 47 as well as people watching those behaviors from the area and similar circumstance as Gelhaus and Schemmel.  If these re-enactments weren't done it is nonthing short of investigative and forensic malpractice.

Note by JB for Sonoma County DA Report Appendix D pg. 12:
Have you or anybody else who actually spoke with Gelhaus TESTED in detecting deception in an interview?  I am.  I got 8 out of 9 correct in a blind test by the late Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan of the University of San Francisco.

Sonoma County D.A. Report Appendix C

Appendix C (of A through E) from the Sonoma County D.A. Report on Andy Lopez Shooting.
Notes from JB Tucker, investigative journalist, are noted by the yellow square, and are produced below the individual pages. Links to all sections of the complete report at [link].

Note by JB for Sonoma County DA Report Appendix C pg. 2:
As a member of CACJ he is likely neither a defense or prosecution "whore."

Sonoma County D.A. Report Appendix B

Appendix B (of A through E) from the Sonoma County D.A. Report on Andy Lopez Shooting.
Links to all sections of the complete report at [link].

Sonoma County D.A. Report Appendix A

Justice for Andy Lopez Cruz! (d. 2013-10-22; Santa Rosa) [link]
Appendix A (of A through E) from the Sonoma County D.A. Report on Andy Lopez Shooting.
Links to all sections of the complete report at [link].

Sonoma County D.A. Report pgs. 41 to 52

Justice for Andy Lopez Cruz! (d. 2013-10-22; Santa Rosa) [link]
pages 41 through 52 (of 52) from the Sonoma County D.A. Report on Andy Lopez Shooting.
Notes from JB Tucker, investigative journalist, are noted by the yellow square, and are produced below the individual pages. Links to all sections of the complete report at [link].

Note by JB for pg. 46:
How fast was it ascending as perceived by the deputies.  Was it ascending so fast that it could not have been a 10.5 pound weapon?  Why does this analysis ignore the weight factor of the weapon?

Notes 1 and 2 by JB for pg. 47:
Were any of the people tested for this "research" 13 years old and of the size and strength of the average juvenile?
How do they know what his actual belief was unless they have been tested on their ability to detect deception and since they couldn't subject him to a polygraph?

Notes 1 and 2 by JB for pg. 48:
Did it "turn with him" as easily as a light-weight object or a 10.5 pound AK 47?
A test needs to be performed re-enacting the difference with several males of similar stature and size to Andy Lopez of doing this with the replica weapon and with a real AK 47.  This is obvious and nobody should have drawn this conclusion without doing such a test.

Note by JB for pg. 49:
Notice the absence of discussion of the weight even after one witness independently raised that issue.  Did they bother to ask those questions?  So far from the narrative there's nothing to indicate that before or after a witness raised the issue of weight that any questioning was done of anybody on that subject.

Note by JB for pg. 51:
Nowhere do they analyze subjective evidence of Gelhaus motivations based on his own past writings on the very subject of police shooting which indicates that he enjoys these incidents like they're some kind of game.  Nor do they take into consideration evidence that a thorough investigation would have found, e.g., reports of outrageous past uses of force.