Police departments around the country have been retaliating against community activists who are doing work to hold police accountable for their actions. The message from police is clear: If you do anything to hold us accountable, we will ruin your life.
Two days after Mike Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, Ezell Ford, was shot by two LAPD officers three times while lying on the ground. Eyewitness testimonies contradicted police reports saying Ford tackled one of the officers, and reached for his gun so Ford’s South Los Angeles community took to the streets to protest.
One of the most visible and vocal protesters was DaMonte Shipp, known publicly as Ceebo Tha Rapper. Ceebo, lead many community demonstrations where protesters confronted LAPD, shaming and taunting them. In one demonstration the protesters knelt with their hands on their heads with their backs turned to the police and started to taunt the police to shoot them so that they too could go on paid administrative leave like the officers that shot Ezell Ford.
Ceebo told them, “Go ahead shoot, get your free check.”
Ceebo later released a new song titled “Fuck Tha Police.”
After “Fuck Tha Police” was released LAPD went on “heightened alert,” claiming the song was a call for revenge. Ceebo said the song was meant to inspire unity against police violence. Tyler Izen, President of Los Angeles Police Protective League went on local media and assassinated Ceebo’s character, which he later apologized for on Twitter. Izen, lead the campaign to publicly tie Ceebo to a gang, even though Ceebo claims no gang affiliation. During this time Ceebo, continued to lead community demonstrations and released more songs calling for unity against corrupt police.
After Ceebo, was very publicly portrayed as a violent gang banger over local media, a home invasion happened in South Los Angeles where an Xbox was stolen. Two eye witnesses saw a black man and a lighter skinned man running from the scene.
Police found Ceebo and his friend Andrew Lopez miles away from the robbery, put them in handcuffs, drove them to the two eyewitnesses, and took them out of the car still in handcuffs where they asked the two eyewitnesses if these were the people they saw running away from the scene. They said yes.
This is a common practice, called a Field ID. On the stand both, eyewitnesses admitted that they identified Ceebo and Lopez based on skin tone, clothing, and even the handcuffs. When Ceebo was arrested he was wearing different clothes than what the eyewitnesses told police the burglars were wearing.
On this evidence alone, a jury with no black jurors convicted Ceebo. He is waiting sentencing and faces 4 to 24 years in prison.
It is clear Ceebo is feared by LAPD and they needed to get rid of him.
It wont stop unless we stop it. -Ceebo Tha Rapper
In Emporia, Kansas, Jay Vehige, like many former organizers in the Occupy Wall Street movement, found himself focusing on building a local movement for police accountability. Vehige, and other local activist started Emporia Cop Block. Videos posted to by Emporia Cop Block mostly featured Vehige’s voice, as Emporia Cop Block attempted to make a case that the Emporia Police department was committing entrapment by over patrolling Emporia’s bar scene. They claim police make it almost impossible to have a night out with out being harassed by the Emporia Police Department.
The group made videos in which they interviewed people on the street and the overwhelming majority of people expressed concerns that the police are violating citizens rights and that people are scared to go out at night because of the number of police patrolling the area.
It seemed that locally Emporia Cop Block’s efforts were starting to gain traction. So the Emporia Police Department made a plan to get rid of their problem.
According to Vehige, Emporia Cop Block was told by police officials that they were allowed to follow police as long as they obeyed normal traffic rules. One day they followed an officer as he left the Police Station for a few minutes then decided they should turn their efforts somewhere else. The police officer they followed was off duty at the time.
That was all the Emporia Police Department needed to charge Vehige with stalking and disorderly conduct. Vehige, was arrested while leaving a local restaurant on September 20, 2014. His family was not given any information as to his whereabouts for three weeks, and Vehige was held in solitary confinement for 4 of the 5 weeks he was incarcerated before his release on October 27, 2014 by O.R. Bond.
In true police state fashion, all bondsmen refused to work with Vehige’s family after talking with police and at this point no local lawyers are willing to take his case. So, as of right now, Vehige is using a reluctant public defender. During Vehige’s incarceration Judge Fowler, a local judge who was publicly against Emporia Cop Block, signed a search warrant for his computer. Once his property was in police custody they attempted to delete Emporia Cop Block’s Facebook, and Youtube accounts. They even changed the email and passwords to one of Vehige’s personal accounts to “firstname.lastname@example.org” and password: “fuckyoufaggot.”
This a clear attempt to silence Emporia Cop Block and Vehige himself as he now faces up to a year imprisonment along with the conditions of his bond that include daily check ins and urine analysis at the District Attorney’s discretion.
Both Ceebo and Vehige have taken to crowd-funding websites to pay for their defense. As of this writing, Ceebo has raised $350, and Vehige has raised $45. So it seems that police will get away with silencing those who speak out against their brutality. The police will continue to target effective activist as a means to silence them unless we join the cause.
If you would like to donate to Ceebo’s defense fund you can do so at YouCaring.
If you would like to donate to Vehige’s defense fund you can do so on GoFundMe.
Let us not forget that these are our brothers being put into prison unjustly, and during their incarceration we must offer support and not forget their stories. The work they do is to protect you from having your rights violated or even killed by police.
It is up to us to take care of them and demand their charges be dropped.
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