Last year I received a letter in the mail from the Washington D.C DMV claiming I was speeding. As you can see it was one of those Photo-Enforced Speeding Tickets and they had multiple pictures of my CAR. I knew better to just submit and pay a fine like the majority of people do in
By Chris Staples Attorney Andrew Bodoh presents the facts concerning the Richmond Police Department’s lawsuit against Virginia CopBlock, Virginia CopWatch, Nathan Cox, Moriah Karn, and ten unnamed defendants. Please repost, reblogg, and spread the word about this issue. The City of Richmond has chosen to sue residents for writing articles that they do not like.
Here are the papers I was served the second time they served me. If you missed the video of me getting served, go here. Again, this entire thing was over a BLOG I wrote, which if you have not read it, can be found here. The ACLU of Virginia has recently contacted me, in response
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC The Richmond City Police Department and the City of Richmond have alleged, based on speculation, that the one or more of the defendants in this action (they don’t identify which one) have converted (taken possession or exercised dominion and control over) a portable hard drive that is apparently missing. Of
Last year I received a letter in the mail from the Washington D.C DMV claiming I was speeding. As you can see it was one of those Photo-Enforced Speeding Tickets and they had multiple pictures of my CAR. I knew better to just submit and pay a fine like the majority of people do in this country, unfortunately. I am in the habit of not taking “plea deals”, and I am always in the habit of fighting my tickets and NOT pre-paying them so I don’t have to go to court – like many folks do. I just about always record my interactions with the police, whether it’s a traffic stop or not, that way it keeps the entire situation objective, transparent and I can hold the public servant accountable if he/ she violates my rights.
So I got this letter in the mail:
I can’t recall why I got the next letter, but I think it was because I didn’t respond promptly enough.
As you can see these criminals issuing these tickets are hoping that the people will just get scared and pay, or not want to waste their time with it. However the government has to provide evidence that it was actually ME driving, it’s their burden of proof. Just because they got pictures of my car doesn’t mean I was driving. So, in response to the first letter, I mailed them back the following letter (copied and pasted):
To Whom it May Concern,
I received a letter claiming I committed a violation of a speeding law in the District of Columbia on 04/21/2012. As per the instructions, I am writing to plead ‘not guilty’ to this charge. Although this option is said to result in this matter going to court; it is my suggestion that the charges simply be dropped. This suggestion comes out of respect for tax payers, and my request that their hard earned money not be wasted in such proceedings. As there is no evidence of my involvement with this alleged ‘crime’, as well as the fact that I am not granted my 6th amendment right to face my ‘accuser’ (a camera); I see no way the government could prove my guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I also see find no legal requirement for me to implicate someone else in this process, as it is the government’s responsibility to prove a person’s guilt. It is also my 5th amendment right to remain silent on the matter.
If it is the government’s decision to move forward in this matter, I would request copies of any evidence the prosecution may have of my involvement in the “offense”; as well as, all maintenance records for the camera(s) involved.
United States Army Veteran
HUGE thanks to super activist Meg McLain. I was slammed with work and was about to miss the deadline to mail the rebuttal letter in. She was my roommate at the time, I told her about how I needed it to read and she came up with a fantastic piece. I HIGHLY recommend Meg for any of your Graphic Design or Video Animation needs – She’s stellar!
After sending that letter I received this post card:
MANY months later (much more than 6 months), just the other day I get this post card showing that the ticket is DISMISSED.
Just the other day (A year later) I get this post card:
So PLEASE, NEVER EVER opt to pay these Photo Enforced Speeding AND Red Light tickets! You do NOT have to incriminate yourself OR implicate anyone else. It’s the government’s responsibility to provide evidence that YOU were the person driving, don’t help them in their “investigation”. ALWAYS go to court and fight your tickets, if there is NO VICTIM.. there is NO CRIME!
By Chris Staples
Attorney Andrew Bodoh presents the facts concerning the Richmond Police Department’s lawsuit against Virginia CopBlock, Virginia CopWatch, Nathan Cox, Moriah Karn, and ten unnamed defendants. Please repost, reblogg, and spread the word about this issue. The City of Richmond has chosen to sue residents for writing articles that they do not like. If this action is tolerated, nothing will stop RPD from taking similar action against other residents.
Here are the papers I was served the second time they served me. If you missed the video of me getting served, go here. Again, this entire thing was over a BLOG I wrote, which if you have not read it, can be found here. The ACLU of Virginia has recently contacted me, in response to my request. They are eager to help my attorney’s in any way they can.
In case you weren’t aware this case has received some local press recently.
Style Weekly recently came out with this article titled, “Watching the Detectives”.
The Richmond Times Dispatch also came out with it’s first article, hopefully not the last. “Judge orders online information about Richmond police to be taken down”.
1. Motion to Enlarge Temporary Injunction 2. Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint 3. First Amended Complaing
1. Motion to Show Cause
NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC The Richmond City Police Department and the City of Richmond have alleged, based on speculation, that the one or more of the defendants in this action (they don’t identify which one) have converted (taken possession or exercised dominion and control over) a portable hard drive that is apparently missing. Of course, as they have sued ten individuals whom they do not identify except as “Does 1-10”, so the defendants to this action could be anyone. They do not explain in their pleading how this hard drive was lost, when it was lost, or where it was lost. They do not describe what the hard drive looks like.
They allege that the hard drive contains what they describe as “confidential” information or documents that has made its way into the public domain and was republished on various websites. The Richmond City Police Department and the City of Richmond allege that they are suffering and continue to suffer damages as a result of the alleged conversion of this hard drive and the loss of the documents on the hard drive. If the person in possession of this hard drive (if it exists or still exists) reads this post, some or all of the defendants would probably appreciate it if this hard drive were delivered to the clerk of the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond (see order below).
You may wish to consult an attorney since the Richmond City Police Department has threatened criminal charges in what in the opinion of one or more of the defendants is not only a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but also an apparent effort to cover up the error related to the dissemination of the information that they claim to be “confidential,” apparently without adequate password protection or encryption. Defendants would appreciate it if you would notify counsel for Nathan Cox and Mo Karn if the hard drive is delivered to the clerk.
Translation: As I have stated from day ONE. I have never ONCE possessed these files or alleged hard-drive. I have never uploaded this information. I have never downloaded this information. I was simply contacted by “ANON” who made me aware that information was being put online. After seeing the RVA Wingnuts original post about the information, I copied and pasted the links from their blog, on to the blog that I wrote and published to let the public know about this information if they wanted to investigate it for themselves. So, ALL I have done is write a blog about the information being online. The local media has continued to be silent on the Richmond Police Department using it’s force to bully me around.
Written and edited by Chris Staples
By now, most readers of Virginia CopBlock have heard the story about the injunction against Nate Cox, ‘Mo Karnage’, the RVA Wingnut Collective, and filebin.net. Yes, the Richmond Police Department actually issued an injunction against an internet domain. Yes, internet domains are inanimate objects incapable of uploading or transmitting data without human action. Filebin.net is a tool of the digital age, no different from a phone, computer word processor, or blog.
RPD’s injunction demonstrates the lengths that governments will go to prevent transparency. With their injunction, RPD is frantically trying to hold back the free flow of information made possible by the digital age. This injunction demonstrates how governments fear the loss of the mainstream media’s monopoly on the news. New media venues like YouTube and podcasts, online news sources like examiner.com and American Daily Herald, and blogging tools like WordPress and BlogSpot destroy the status quo by allowing anyone, anywhere to become reporters.
Reporters need access to write their stories. Finding sources and doing real research takes time. Attending press conferences and going to lunch with government officials is quicker and easier than developing sources and running actual investigations. In the past, local police could control their public image by cozying up to the five or size news outlets in an area. Activist blogs like CopBlock and CopWatch break the stranglehold on investigative journalism.
The injunction represents a deliberate act to suppress a free press. RPD officials understand that independent journalists don’t have the funds to pay for a drawn-out court battle. RPD leaders hope to create enough pain for Virginia CopBlock and the RVA Wingnut Collective to prevent these groups from continuing in their activism. Suppressing these groups would make it harder for future independent journalists to work.
The injunction is a gauntlet thrown in the path of independent journalists. The injunction has a chilling effect, deterring other activists and journalists from demanding government transparency. The injunction is not a matter of the specific files released, nor is it a matter of confidentiality. Ultimately, the injunction is about the need for governments to maintain their status quo of secrecy.
VIDEO: Virginia Cop Block Founder – Nathan Cox gets served Court Order/ Injunction by Richmond Police
Today I was chased down by at least 4 detectives from the Richmond Police Department, while another unmarked cruiser with 2-3 individuals in it, one being in the back seat, possibly being some sort of informant sitting near by. After consulting with my attorney and reaching out to local press, specifically Mark Holmberg (who’s a self-described libertarian and practices peaceful civil disobedience, even in his newscasts) I was ready to make the call to have them meet me at where I work. That was after they went to my previous employer, which they thought I still worked, that was after them showing up at my house, no one home but the pit bulls barking. That was after they went to my grandmothers house looking for me and finally figuring out where I currently work and showed up there. Watch the video of the interaction here.
Well they were trying to serve me Court Orders/ Injunction. I had heard from my friend known as “Mo” earlier that day that cops had been by her residence while she was at work and were apparently tracking her like me, trying to do the same. They are trying to quell my freedom of speech by serving me these ridiculous papers over the post I had published here on this site a couple of nights ago – view it here
The pictures below are of the court order. You can listen to my interview with Free Talk Live that I had tonight here, talking about the situation in more detail.
My Attorney is Tom Roberts, a civil rights defender located in Richmond Virginia. He represented me at the request of the Rutherford Institute with my incident with the VCU Police and did an excellent job. Papers are being filed to a court first thing Monday morning. After this is resolved I’ll be holding them accountable by suing. Victoria Benjamin Pearson you have no case, just give us the money we demand, I promise we’ll put it into much better use than the State would use, I can assure you that. I will keep everyone up to date.
Written by: Nathan Cox
Virginia Cop Block was contacted several days ago by an anonymous person who claimed to have internal information about the Richmond Police Department. We were told that this information would be given first to the RVA Wingnut group, which primarily is a Anarchist Collective in Southern Barton Heights whom are affiliated with and do Cop Watch outreach & activism – as well as Virginia Cop Block. The anonymous individual wanted this information, from their on out, disseminated far and wide for whomever was interested.
This anonymous individual came through and believed it was a necessary course of action, due to the protections of the Police Department that legislatures have kindly given them – transparency and accountability is a MUST in the “public sector”. I share this sentiment as well. Most especially after I realized the police departments can use THEIR discernment when fullfilling/ releasing information via a FOIA Request.
I experienced this personally after I filed my own FOIA Request with the Virginia State Police after my Memorial Day weekend traffic stop. The only piece(s) of information they refused to give me, was regarding Trooper McKenney’s past (history) misconduct and behavioral type of complaints, which I believe the public certainly has a right to know – for safety reasons. (LINKS TO THE FILES ARE LOCATED AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST)
Virginia Cop Block is underway in dissecting these files, SOP’s, GO’s, etc and we can use YOUR HELP. Feel free to download and sift through this information for yourselves. We plan on writing articles about anything pertinent we find in here. If you download the files and review the information and find something pertinent, please let us know! Below is the short blog from the RVA Wingnut about getting this information, and a little more context to why this information fell in our lap. Virginia Cop Block has recently added a Support Page to our website. Please consider making a donation, so we can continue to educate people about their civil rights while dually holding cops and other government bureaucrats accountable.
To read the RVA Wingnut blog about this information go here, or read below:
“You might remember from a couple of years ago that the Wingnut Anarchist Collective and the Richmond Police Department had a tiff regarding some files from the RPD’s General Orders that the Wingnut got a hold of using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). More about that here ( http://wingnutrva.org/2011/01/04/foiad-again/ )
And after the police were forced to drop their case before it even hit the courts, they refused to comply to any FOIA requests coming from members of the Wingnut Anarchist Collective. We didn’t have the legal resources to take them to court over their violation of the FOIA laws. Instead we made multiple online asks for the info if anyone else already had a copy or was able to get one. (http://wingnutrva.org/2012/04/28/rpd-refuses-to-cooperate-with-foia-we-need-these-files-please-help/ ).
Well, someone finally came through, and an anonymous source gave people access to the rest of the General Orders from the RPD, as well as some other files. Since these files regard the rules the police must follow, and since tax money goes to pay for the police, we figure this is public information, and we are re-posting links to it here. We hope it finds you well and helps you protect yourself and your legal rights.
We haven’t actually had a chance to go through these files ourselves, so if you find something particularly interesting or useful, drop us a line to let us know! wingnut_collective @ yahoo.com We;d also love to hear from copwatchers, lawyers, and anyone who finds this information useful, share your stories!
Here are links to some of the new info out there on the web, not sure how long it will stay on those websites, so download your own copy if you are interested!
Written by: Nathan Cox
A growing student group at Virginia Commonwealth University, located in the heart of Richmond, calling themselves “Students for Concealed Carry on Campus – VCU Chapter” has been raising awareness about gun rights and the fallacies of Virginia’s current state Laws in regards to carrying firearms while on [a state] campus. There is also a another group on Facebook called, “Support the right for VCU students to carry on campus” which clearly isn’t limited to just carrying a concealed firearm.
These groups and Facebook pages have been gaining more and more traction since the spike in violent crime (including homicide) in around around VCU’s campus. It certainly makes sense that more and more students are raising their questions and concerns, as to why the lose their 2nd Amendment rights, when attending a State college, in this case VCU.
The United States Constitution’s Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”. Now, how is it justifiable to take away the rights of an individual just because they sign up and attend a state college? Is the state not merely a collective body of individuals whom the voting public grant their authority too? Is the state supposed to protect the rights of the people, or undermine and/ or take eliminate the rights of the people? It’s visibly clear an unknown percentage of the public does not consent to the state law(s)/ policy that restricts the rights’ of students to protect themselves with a firearm while on campus.
Virginia is one of 44 states that have the right to “bear arms” embedded in their own constitutions. Virginia’s Constitution, Article 1, Section 13 states:
“That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. “
As pointed out in an article published by HamptonRoads.com, “It didn’t always read that way. That last clause – “therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” – was not part of the original version, enacted in 1776. It was added in 1971.”
Now, let’s take a look at the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department’s Mission Statement: “The mission of the VCU Police Department is to provide a safe and secure learning, living and working environment for the students, faculty, staff and visitors of Virginia Commonwealth University.
This will be accomplished through the development of various community-based crime prevention strategies and initiatives in conjunction with traditional law enforcement and progressive community policing practices. All members of the department will provide the highest levels of courtesy and customer service to the community.”
If the VCU Police Department was really trying to abide by their mission statement, they would provide a safer campus environment by allowing VCU students to carry their own firearms for protection. It is said that an “armed society is a polite society”. The VCU Police will acknowledge that they can’t be every where at once & if they were really concerned with the “safety” of students they would welcome this change. “All the members of the department will provide the highest levels of courtesy and customer service to the community.” – It’s neither courteous nor good customer service practices to disarm peaceful, responsible law-abiding students while on campus.
Furthermore, here is a look at the (or a variation of the) oath that VCU Police Officer’s swear to uphold:
“On my honor,
I will never betray my badge,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution
my community and the agency I serve.
Now if the VCU Chief of Police as well as his officers, were actually concerned with the oath they swore too, they would be oath keepers. But instead they are another group of badge wearing individuals who’ve either forgotten their oaths, never planned on upholding their oaths, or have self-compromised their principles since taking their oath. We know this because, if VCU Chief of Police John Venuti (to include his entire department) had any sense of integrity to his (their) oath, he (they) would do the right thing and “Always uphold the Constitution”, both The U.S Constitution and The Virginia Constitution and express to the students that he, nor his officers will harass students for lawfully caring a firearm, under those guaranteed rights, symbolized in those respective documents. Police Officers often use discretion when choosing what laws to enforce and this should be one of those laws that the Police choose to use discretion on and choose NOT to enforce and instead, uphold their oaths, and protect the rights of students to carry firearms. Imagine if the VCU police did the right thing, think of how much trust that would build with the students, it would be unprecedented.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of the police doing the right thing, these days, is not going to happen. In saying that, you’re left with at least three options.
First, you can join the ranks of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is a well known Pro- 2nd Amendment organization here in Virginia that makes the NRA look moderate. They are constantly teaching people and lobbying for gun rights and are often involved with legislation at the Virginia General Assembly. You can team up with them, and your state representative and lobby to get those laws changed. You can help build this particular cause on VCU’s campus, educating students on gun rights, responsibility, safety, etc. You can also simply choose to disobey that law, in an act(s) of peaceful civil disobedience. Many folks will tell you, “if you want change, work within the system”. Well, unless you are VERY good at lobbying AND raising money for lobbying purposes, more often than not, the legislation that you want to see passed will not even win the support of your own representative, much less anyone else in the General Assembly. Furthermore we see the, “if you want change, work within the system” mentality often does not work, and it took the various civil rights movements in the 50′s & 60′s, etc to rely on Peaceful Civil Disobedience and Non-Cooperation to get the laws changed that they wanted. Granted, there is certainly a risk of disobey ANY “bad laws”, that risk of course, being the heavy hand, the apparatus of the State. Good people disobey bad laws, if you choose to go this route, do so peacefully, safely, responsibly and strategically. Other options would be to simply not attend a college that strips you from your rights, or to seek higher education in a different format/ setting – Like with a library card, and practically applying WHATEVER you are learning to the best of your abilities, out in “the field”.
If you share the sentiment, that the VCU Police should do the right thing and uphold their oaths and protect the student’s right to carry, consider letting them know by filling out their contact form here. Below is a video I found of a Pro 2nd Amendment event on VCU about 10 months ago, which involved various speakers, side-discussion debates, etc.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
Martin Luther King Jr.
Our neighbors are dying in the Richmond, Virginia jail. More than 80 of our neighbors have died since 1994, more than 30 of them since C.T. Woody became Sheriff in 2004. Another one of our neighbors, Charles Preston Mitchell, age 62 passed away during the last week. Despite the dozens of deaths, there has been no serious investigation of the Richmond City jail by any city, state, or federal organization. This means that after years of unusually high inmate death rates, no government official at any level has taken the time to perform a serious inquiry into this pattern of deaths. The underlying causes of these deaths must be addressed. This can only be addressed if there is a public outcry.
The Richmond City, Virginia jail is something of a sick inside joke among Richmonders. Residents complain about corruption inside the jail. Civil liberties advocates, former inmates, and their family members complain about a lack of adequate air conditioning and ventilation inside the facilities, pointing out that during 100 degree summer days, conditions inside of the jail can rise to over 120 degrees. There are accusations of deputies using excessive force, beating nonviolent inmates. Many residents also speak of the Sheriff’s staff failing to protect inmates from other inmates and their selves, pointing to a number of questionable suicides within the facility.
The Richmond jail has one of the highest inmate death rates in the United States. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, there had been at least 30 deaths at the Richmond City facility since 2006. It is difficult to identify the exact number of deaths that occurred in the Richmond jail because the Sheriff’s Office rarely issues press releases for inmates’ deaths. In fact, the Sheriff’s Office website titled “PRESS, REPORTS AND ARCHIVES” lists only two statements on inmate deaths during the administration of Sheriff C.T. Woody, despite the fact that the Richmond Times-Dispatch Identifies at least 30 deaths during the same timeframe.
From 2000-2007 the Richmond jail had a death rate 2.5 times as high as the national average. The DOJ has not released statistics for 2007-2012, but it is known that the death rate at the Richmond facility has risen despite a downward trend in jail deaths. To put this in to perspective, it is becoming increasingly more likely that a suspect arrested in Richmond will die in custody, despite the fact that is becoming less likely for someone arrested to die in custody.
No agency uninterested in investigating the unusually high death rate in the Richmond jail. As stated above, the Sheriff’s office has only issued formal press releases about two deaths during the tenure of Sheriff C. T. Woody. There are no statements about the other deaths, nor are the findings from investigations into the cause of inmate deaths available to the general public. There is no indication the Richmond jail has been investigated by the Richmond City Council, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, or the US Department of Justice. Right now, in isn’t clear what the procedures are for determining why inmates are dying in such high rate nor is it clear why the Richmond jail has not come under scrutiny from the Commonwealth of Virginia, given its near record-breaking death rates.
Reed Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch published a July 29th article which provided many of the statistics used in this article. Melissa Scott Sinclair of Style Weekly, a local arts and entertainment newspaper, also deserves credit for covering this topic. These two reporters stand out because local media has paid so little attention to this issue. It seems unusual that local media has given so little attention to this issue, especially when one considers that investigative journalism on topics like this often sell newspapers.
The issue of deaths in the Richmond City jail has continued for too long without outside oversight. Too many of our neighbors have died in the custody of the Richmond Sheriff’s Office. Most of these people were being held pending trial or bail hearing. Most of the dead were people who had not yet been tried by a jury of their peers for their alleged crimes. Regardless of their innocence or guilt, the Sheriff’s Office was responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their prisoners. At the very least, these deaths represent a pattern that be investigated to find the underlying cause. Virginia CopBlock is planning a protest at the Richmond Sheriff’s Office on Friday, October 5th. We ask that everyone concerned about this issue attend the protest. These deaths have gone on too long. We must make it clear that these deaths cannot be tolerated.
Written by: Chris Staples