Who Watches the Watchmen?
Written by Barney Cox
I guess I was avoiding pain and stress. My good friend Danny has been out copblocking close to 100 times, mostly by himself. I’d been hanging with him for a week and I hadn’t gone with him once OK we did go to Ferguson and talk to a line of 50 cops and film them but…
I mean, I wanted to go out with him. But it’s a little scary.
Cops are trained in violence. They carry guns. All the time. Use of force and intimidation is just a part of their daily work routine.
If they want, they can summon hundreds of other men just like them at a moment’s notice. Almost like a really big and powerful gang.
While I don’t want to be a chicken, I guess I kind of am. Or was. Maybe I still am. I don’t get the pounding heart and adrenaline dump that I used to get when one would pull up behind me but cops still make me nervous.
I realize now it’s because these people have the power to kidnap me and throw me in jail on the flimsiest of justifications. They might even hurt me if I don’t “respect” their authority to their personal level of satisfaction.
I didn’t even intend to go on a cop block with Danny that night. But I did have my video camera. And a spare battery. I had a feeling.
Danny is a cautious driver. He doesn’t take chances. When I heard him hit the hammer I knew something was up. The speedo crept up to seventy.
I realized we were behind an unmarked police cruiser. I looked over and Danny had come alive. He had worked all day remodeling a house and then we’d gone to band practice and he was still wearing his dirty work clothes. He was leaning forward, staring at the cop pulling away from us.
It was like watching a shark go after another shark. Most people wouldn’t dream of chasing a predator, but there’s a small and growing diaspora of people like Danny who do it on a regular basis. I don’t know if they relish it as much as he does, but I can hope that they do, can’t I?
The people who do this are called copblockers. Or copwatchers. Or whatever they want to be called. It’s a decentralized thing, man. I guess I can count myself in their number now.
Danny’s goal was to speed past the guy and get pulled over, but that didn’t happen. We clocked the guy doing more than 15 over, but it was closer to 20.
Just a few minute later, we happened on a young woman who’d just been pulled over. The officer was next to her car, peering over her shoulder, flashlight in hand, as she scrambled to find her papers. He wasn’t doing this to be helpful, rather to see if he could find anything incriminating that could be used to justify a search.
Danny got out first, I stayed back taking video. The officer walked back to his cruiser. Danny approached the driver. The officer turned and started back towards Danny.
He said something about it being ok to video, but that Danny should go back by his car. He said it again. Danny replied “I’m cool here.”
The officer said “Ok.”
What just happened at that moment is important. The cop gave Danny what SOUNDED like an order, but because Danny has been through this many times before, he knew it was just a REQUEST.
Cops are used to people doing what the fuck the cops tell them to do. Many times, these orders are lawful and must be obeyed in a legal sense, whatever the fuck that means.
But cops also say a whole lot of things that they really have no right to give orders about. They’ve become so used to a docile, compliant populace that they expect everyone to obey them, even when those orders are really just requests that sound like orders.
In that moment, Danny recognized a request for what it was, even though it sounded like an order, and politely refused. The officer, realizing his bluff had been called, backed off.
What if that happened every time a cop encountered a civilian?
Soon we were to see why this is so important. The first driver wasn’t searched, but she said she’s been searched before. She seemed to believe what a lot of people believe, that if the cops have caught you doing anything, you are at their mercy.
This isn’t so, and it’s what Danny tries to tell just about everyone he meets.
Cops need probable cause to pull you over, but that cause doesn’t necessarily translate into a legitimate search. If they pull you over for speeding or for an expired tag, that doesn’t mean it follows that they have reason to suspect that you possess illegal drugs or weapons.
But this not-so-subtle intimidation that the police engage in leaves people with the feeling that they have no choice, that they can’t push back. So Danny pushes back for them. Too bad there aren’t more like him.
Barney is a father of seven and a concerned human trying to help people see the truth. You can follow him on his YouTube Channel here. Please consider sending him a Bitcoin tip to: 1P11Wr7uqRMqtNNfxytyAgq5cFfYRz42yE