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An Evening Spent with Cop Watch
by Peter Maiden (pmaiden [at] pacbell.net)
Saturday Apr 2nd, 2005 3:50 PM
Cop Watch keeps an eye on police in San Jose, where on Friday nights the popular downtown area is saturated with patrol cars. Led by an activist called Quetza, the Cop Watch crew spent a couple of hours out on the street April 1 and into the early morning of April 2. Indybay reporter Peter Maiden, who has been covering police issues in San Jose for the last five months, came along to document their efforts.
incar.jpg
I met with the Cop Watch crew at 9:30 Friday night, April 1 at the office of the Barrio Defense Committee, the Centro Aztlán, in downtown San Jose. The Centro is in a nice Spanish style building on Second Street at William. Its walls are covered with artwork on Mexican themes and posters protesting police and prison brutality.

Quetza, a pleasant woman of middle age who runs the office, was talking in Spanish to two high school students, Magaly, 15 and Yerardin, 16. Over the course of twenty minutes she explained how the police, by putting young people into the juvenile justice system, undermine family and community values. “We live in a society where humanity is not valued,” she said as they listened intently. “The police are not the solution. The worst thing that can happen to you would be to fall into el juvenil.”

By 10 p.m. three young men, José, Plutarco and Tonatihu, joined the two girls. They are all English students at the Centro. I was introduced as the author of an article in Faultlines that exposed some brutality at the San Jose Main Jail. Tonatihu was interested in my digital camera, and knows a lot about how it works.

At 10:30 we started to walk to Santa Clara Street, where police are very active. On the way Quetza explained that Cop Watch has been going on for a few months, and has involved many activists, although on this night the whole crew was the English students. They were armed with pamphlets titled “Know Your Rights.”

On Santa Clara Street, police parked in the middle of the street and observed cars going by, stopping one every five or ten minutes. “They’re very selective,” Quetza said. “They profile?” I asked. “Yes, they profile. Most of those they select are Raza.”

They stopped a car for having a tinted front window. Quetza talked to the young people in the car and took notes. Another is stopped for a seat belt violation. “How many squad cars do you see?” Quetza asked. “2,3,4,5 in one intersection. Damn!”

It was a kind of amazing scene, something that as a resident of San Jose I had noticed before, but never studied closely. The violations cars were stopped for are very minor. It seemed to be a kind of police propaganda, letting the young people know who’s boss, not just of Santa Clara Street, but over their lives.

At one point two cars are stopped with no reason given. One, in the middle of the street, had four girls in it; the other, at the curb, had five guys. They yelled across the street to each other. “They stopped us for the fuck of it!” one of the guys hollered. The boys asked the girls for a telephone number, which they gave willingly.

Another group of youths were stopped in their SUV because one of the passengers had stuck his head out the window to look at the cops. He was ticketed for not wearing a seat belt, and the driver was ticketed for “driver responsibility.” The two who were ticketed, Danny and Xavier said they were ticketed last month by the same cop for the same thing. They talked at length with the Cop Watch people and posed defiantly for a photo.

Some of the people going by knew Cop Watch from seeing them on previous nights, and you could hear them talking about it amongst themselves. From one vehicle, an African-American woman told me not to take her picture, then looked around and saw what was going on. “Are you getting pictures of police harassment?” she asked. I nodded. “Then take some more!” she demanded.

The police, who seemed to be made self-conscious by the Cop Watch, were sarcastic. One noticed that I was having a good time with my camera, and said to me, while walking across the street to give a ticket, “Oh, this is FUN, ISN”T it?” Well, it was fun and it wasn’t. But I won’t soon forget it.

When the Black Panther Party started policing the police in the1960s it began a tendency on the left to call police to account for their role in our communities. Cop Watch seemed a bit Quixotic, but it gave a few citizens heart and seemed to make a few police more aware that they could be held accountable for their actions.

To contact San Jose's Cop Watch, call the Barrio Defense Committee at (408) 885-9785.
§Quetza Observes a Heavy Police Presence
by Peter Maiden (pmaiden [at] pacbell.net) Saturday Apr 2nd, 2005 3:50 PM
quetza.jpg7rh9du.jpg
§L to R: José, Magaly, Yerardin
by Peter Maiden (pmaiden [at] pacbell.net) Saturday Apr 2nd, 2005 3:50 PM
students.jpggwlaev.jpg
plutarcho.jpg
§One Cop Gives a Ticket While Three More Look On
by Peter Maiden (pmaiden [at] pacbell.net) Saturday Apr 2nd, 2005 3:50 PM
treschiflados.jpg
§Xavier, left, and Danny After Being Ticketed
by Peter Maiden (pmaiden [at] pacbell.net) Saturday Apr 2nd, 2005 3:50 PM
xavier_danny.jpg

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by conspiracy72
Sunday Apr 3rd, 2005 4:40 PM
Great work guy's keep it up. NEVER let them see us not watching.
by Paul
(pc_1977 [at] yahoo.com) Tuesday Apr 19th, 2005 1:19 PM
I have grown so inapt and tired of the growing complaints of brutality and unfairness dished by law enforcement. One has to have an understanding and respect of the law before being quick to judge and hypothesize regarding poilice procedure and guidelines. Police have a job to do. It is to protect and serve their communities from the growing problems of drugs, prostitution, robberies, theft, physical abuse, murder just to name a few. A society to function needs a level of authority to oversee the populace and enforce law. Before judging the police for the blue moon cases highlighted and blown out of proportion by the media, you must ask yourself: Am I willing to risk my life for another stranger? This is what Police do on a daily basis, and demand nothing in return but a measly paycheck and the safety of community...again, a community full of strangers.

As for the racial profile and slander that minorities tend to claim as unjustifiable, let's take it from a Police officer's point of view. Kids, teens, young adults are walking around with a sense of immunity from the Family Values we were raised with. Generation X if you will, is prominent and flooding the streets. The young men and women of today are walking around dressed like street thugs, tatooed, smoking pot, drinking 40's, making babies and not taking care of them, unemployed, driving a 500 dollar pontiac and souping it up like a mock tin can with rims, not to mention the stereo system worth more than the car, ditching school, the list goes on. Where are the PARENTS to oversee what these kids are doing? Apparently not watching the kids, so the POLICE are the fill in parents. So an officer pulls over a young black or hispanic because of racial profiling? Please, how about the loud tailpipe, duct taped car being driven with 6 kids all tattooed wearing hankerchiefs on their forhead, while gesturing gang signs out a broken passenger window to another group of punks? The kids dress and act in a way that ther parents should find unacceptable, and the parents cry because thier little angels are being picked on? Take the drugs, money and guns away from the kids who think they are some hardcore gangsters, and their would be no need for "profiling". It's not about race or color, it's about how these little punks present themselves. Not just the kids either, it's the adults who can't get it together. These little "angels" parents who won't work, get high all day, beat each other, and refuse to be a MAN or WOMAN about their responsibility. In short, it is the PARENTS fault that kids act and appear to the POLICE the way they do.

I do express sympathy for the injured women given the fact that she was needlessly injured. But, when you get a crowd of people banning together, taunting and raving at the police and shouting obcenities, the lawmakers are going to react in a fashion they deem suitable. Freedom of speech is one thing, acting like a raving lunatic is another. Ask the crowd members how many warnings they received to back down when taunting the police with finger gestures, cuss words, throwing objects and threats. It's a wonder no one was killed, considering the fear the POLICE felt for just doing their assigned duty of keeping peace.

So, before all of you cry and sob about POLICE BRUTALITY and the need for law reform, consider this: Most of the inmates in jail and prison are minorities, most crimes that placed them there are drug, assault and gang related. Just as you all out there were profiling Middle Easterners after Sept 11, the police are only going by instinct and statistics. Will a 'COP" stop a well dressed black or hispanic male? No, but they will stop a gang geared, grungy, hair slicked, tatooed freak reminincing a gang member. Sorry, first impressions don't lie. If you don't want to get "randomly" harrassed, try dressing like a respectable citizen and take a bike instead of wasting resources to convert your 81 Cutlass into a Euro-dragster with a ridiculous spoiler and 18 inch speakers.

This Commentary may not get published because I speak of truth. I even provided my email address as a show that I don't cower behind my beliefs. Keep your kids off the streets and keep your self employed. Peace

Paul
Second Class PO/Naval MP
CV-62
by 78
Tuesday Apr 19th, 2005 1:33 PM
Maybe the media told you that, but the truth is that bad social indicators such as teen pregnancy, drug use and crime have been *dropping* every year - which a lot of people think might be related to instituting Roe vs. Wade in 1974. Also, teens are far more conservative on political polls and voting these days due to growing up under Bush and w/o the vietnam War and civil rights era recently in memory.
This is no joke - in 1993, there was a teen pregnancy rate of something like 90/1000 teens, which was much higher than Canda or Europe, but it's all the way down to something like 45/1000 now. Some pessimistic people like to think things are always getting worse, but the numbers don't back it up. Test scores on the SATs have been going up since 1991 too. Drug use peaked in 1982 and has been going down ever since. At that time, about 45% of kids graduating high school were pot smokers, but now it's around 25%.
by Marty
Sunday Apr 24th, 2005 10:04 PM
Cop Watch will spend hours upon hours making flyers about "Know your rights" and "Watch the police" and hand them out to to the public. (It looks like mostly juveniles) This is a real intelligent tactic. Here's a thought, why not hand out flyers about "how to act like a human being" or better yet, "how to raise your child to stay out of jail", or maybe the employment section, or how about a flyer that teaches our wonderful young youth to "SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH" so they can get a job to contribute to whatever community they live in. How about that? Your taking society backwayrds... and you don't even realize it. I for one would like to thank you, cop watch for giving these young kids something else to think about during their building years, so in effect they can wake up during their early twenties and say, "I cant fill out a job application" "but I sure do know my rights!! and I can make my 1983 Ford Mustang do doughnuts in the middle of an intersection" nice going... do something better with your time. It's people like you who go to law school and defendi the same kids you gave your "Know your rights" flyers to after they have robbed a liquor store. Keep it Up Cop Watch...We love Ya
by John Q Public
Tuesday Apr 26th, 2005 12:52 PM
How come if I said exactly what Marty did, my post would have been deleted.
by my opinion
Wednesday Apr 27th, 2005 8:07 AM
Why would you people delete John Q Publics post at all?

I disagree with John but I dont believe he should be censored.



by Paul
(pc_1977 [at] yahoo.com) Thursday May 5th, 2005 2:51 PM
I have to completely agree with Marty's perspective on Cop Watch. I do understand the groups intention on informing the Public of their Constitutional Rights, Miranda law, ect, but taking attention away from the true reality of the streets is only causing more problems.

I am looking at pics of kids and minorities who were apparently targeted racially by the Police. Give me a break. These kids look and resemble THUGS, plain and simple. Driving around recklessly in a beat up Honda, crooked caps and street clothes representing old school gang and slang, having 24 hours to blow a day due to dropping out of school and dealing drugs instead of carrying a job....I would arrest the little bastards too. Extremely LAZY, RECKLESS, and USELESS to human society, a waste of the polluted oxygen I must share and coexist with. These little punks need to stay in school, get a job, and stay off the streets. i have to roll through the barrio with my doors locked an windows up in hopes that these gang bangers arent going to carjack me, or hit me with a stray bullet. I have gotten smarter now though. I have finally octained my permit to carry a weopon, in plainview on the passenger seat of my car. I won't hesitate to use it on one of these little PUNKS come time to prove what a real man is.
by Policeman
Sunday Sep 25th, 2005 3:25 PM
I’m a policeman who works in downtown San Jose. I used to see Quetza and her crew of rag tag individuals roaming around wearing orange garbage bags on their backs with the words COP WATCH written by a sharpie. These people have nothing better to do than to come downtown and harass the police. We’re out there trying to keep a lid on things and this group sees fit to try and dig up some dirt on us or try to catch us on their video camera hoping that we do something wrong. She say’s that we’re profiling? Well if profiling means that we strictly enforce laws to alleviate the massive cruise and crowd control problems that we have, or enforce laws to get rid of the criminal gang element in downtown than so be it. She doesn’t tell you that the majority of the problems we have in downtown are due to the roaming gangs and thugs that come downtown for only one purpose, to play grab ass and to pick fights with others. Most of them are underage and drunk. In the past three weeks, we’ve had four stabbings that have occurred in downtown San Jose, all perpetrated by people that Quetza says we are profiling. Rather than put the blame where it should be, the thugs who prey on innocent people who come downtown to enjoy themselves, Quetza blames the cops. Come downtown and enjoy yourself, but know that if you’re going to get drunk and out of control or walk in the middle of the street to talk to a car full of girls or pick fights with others just for the fun of it, then know that we have business. I would truly like to see what would happen on a heavy Saturday cruise night if the cops were not around. Ask yourself this question, those of you who know downtown, would you feel safe on a Saturday night in downtown San Jose if you knew there was absolutely no police presence?
by Policeman
Sunday Sep 25th, 2005 4:35 PM
I’m a policeman who works in downtown San Jose. I used to see Quetza and her crew of rag tag individuals roaming around wearing orange garbage bags on their backs with the words COP WATCH written by a sharpie. These people have nothing better to do than to come downtown and harass the police. We’re out there trying to keep a lid on things and this group sees fit to try and dig up some dirt on us or try to catch us on their video camera hoping that we do something wrong. She say’s that we’re profiling? Well if profiling means that we strictly enforce laws to alleviate the massive cruise and crowd control problems that we have, or enforce laws to get rid of the criminal gang element in downtown than so be it. She doesn’t tell you that the majority of the problems we have in downtown are due to the roaming gangs and thugs that come downtown for only one purpose, to play grab ass and to pick fights with others. Most of them are underage and drunk. In the past three weeks, we’ve had four stabbings that have occurred in downtown San Jose, all perpetrated by people that Quetza says we are profiling. Rather than put the blame where it should be, the thugs who prey on innocent people who come downtown to enjoy themselves, Quetza blames the cops. Come downtown and enjoy yourself, but know that if you’re going to get drunk and out of control or walk in the middle of the street to talk to a car full of girls or pick fights with others just for the fun of it, then know that we have business. I would truly like to see what would happen on a heavy Saturday cruise night if the cops were not around. Ask yourself this question, those of you who know downtown, would you feel safe on a Saturday night in downtown San Jose if you knew there was absolutely no police presence?
by The Jerk
Sunday Sep 25th, 2005 11:26 PM
Doesnt matter to me, I would feel safe with or without any Police presence.

And I agree people showing up with camera harrassing you is annoying but isnt it just as annoying when you show up at a party and break it up or break up a fair fight?

And why do you have business with outta control drunks? Their too easy to fight and take down and dont make very much sense when you talk to them.


by oh well then...
Saturday Nov 5th, 2005 7:31 PM
OINK OINK OINK
by didnt happen to me
Saturday Nov 5th, 2005 7:33 PM
OINK indeed!!

but the candor is refreshing.
by Pleased Citizen
Saturday Mar 4th, 2006 9:50 PM
I think that it is really sad that people hate the Police.

Police Officers become Officers because they want to help people. One aspect of helping people is making the streets safe.

If we didn't have a Police presence in downtown and there were no repercussions to the acts committed, there would be more!

People who commit crimes start small. They start by hanging out with their friends and drawing attention to themselves. Then it can escalate to vandalism or stealing. Eventually, with the aid of drugs and alcohol it can turn sour in arguments with other groups. Then stabbings and shootings occur.

But when the Police step in and stop the small crimes, they could in turn be stopping the bigger crimes.

People need to relax and let the people who have sworn to protect us all do their jobs. San Jose is a darn safe place to be, and it got that way because the Police do their jobs.

If you don't like the Police, it is probably because you cause the problems or are doing stuff you shouldn't be doing!
by fasd
Saturday Mar 4th, 2006 11:01 PM
"Police Officers become Officers because they want to help people."

The TV show cops had a special following Chinese cops the other night and it made me wonder if the same people who think US cops can do no wrong think the same thing about cops in other countries. A cop becomes a cop in Iran, the US, China or Russia for similar reasons. Each country varieties in terms of repression and corruption but ultimately that rarely reolates to why people become cops so your same "they think their doing good" logic applys.
Some do. Others join because they want a license to kill, rape and steal, sell drugs, extort small business, pimp whores, and make book with impunity.

The public has a very hard time telling which kind of cop is which. The over grown Boy Scouts and the ruthless, brutal thugs dress exactly alike. Until you see them in action, there's no way to tell a "Bad Lieutenant" from "Dudley Doright". This makes them *all* very hard to trust.

But the real problem with police is that, even at best, they only show up *after* the crime has been committed, i.e., too late to do any good. And that's when they show up at all. All too often, they don't even show up.

There's a name for people who rely on the police to protect them. They're called "victims."
by Me.
Wednesday May 10th, 2006 9:30 AM
You see, it is good that you say you want to help keep the gangs off the streets and the crimes and such, but when people are protesting for their rights or celebrating their culture, like el 5 de mayo, the beatings, even if a person is like, doing something wrong,t hey have no right to beat people like that. They are not animals, cops just feel with power because they have a stupid badge and a stick. haha. pigs.
by COP WATCH IS A JOKE
Wednesday May 31st, 2006 10:22 AM
I have kept an open mind while reading through the comments that others have made. However, any truth that might come out is lost due to immature comments like, "Oink Oink." I have lived in the Bay Area my whole life and the is no doubt that crime would go through the roof if there was no police presence downtown. Regarding the COP WATCHERS downtown. Well, they are a joke. It would be one thing if they were a neutral body that did not take sides. They would report if they saw police misconduct and would assist law enforcement if they had evidence of a crime. The problems is that they would never do the right thing. It is always the police persons fault. It is always the cops escorting a "brown skinned" man (Making things racial). The bottom line is that the police have to deal with people that have so little respect for themselves thta they feel the need to make very very poor decisions. I have seen on numerous occasions people running in the middle of Santa Clara Street and jumping on the top of passing motorists. I watched the police yell at one person in particular, "Get off the car dummy!" Now COP WATCHERS would say a cop calling this person "dummy" is racial and unprofessional. I think it was completely appropriate. The person is a "dummy" and much more. I only wish there was more police like in San Jose. I want our police to be feared my the criminal element. I have had nothing but positive encounters with our police in San Jose. The ones that complain...well look at their family history. They hate the police because half of their family has been locked up in the past. The family that long hate San Jose Cops are the same families that have a long history of criminal activity. For those of you that feel the need to make commnents like "Oink Oink" I have one comment. Get a job, get educated, and stop living at your parents house and support yourself.
by Police state
Wednesday May 31st, 2006 10:54 AM
I am employed and have witnessed police brutality and abuse of power as a norm, not the exception that cop apologists attempt to prtray it as...
Listen now:
Copy the code below to embed this audio into a web page:
and here's your PROOF right here in this MP3 file. This is a 40-minute audio of Knoxville TN pigs invading the house of one Lester Siler and torturing him in his own kitchen. These fuckers need to DIE. You listen to this thing and I promise you will see what I mean. There is no sane apologia for what's on this tape. You can bet your ass this is happening RIGHT NOW out there somewhere in "the Land of the Free"
by guy who obeys laws
Thursday Jun 22nd, 2006 2:24 AM
some cops do really want to help people,but most are bullies or they were victims of bullies,now they think because they have a badge they are free to bullie.most are cowards.They harrass people who have little power and money mainly Blacks,Chicanos and Mexicans.I am a guy who obeys the laws but the police do not.My brother is a single parent with a good job,but the police still harrass him he said it was o.k. because the police are just doing thier job but now he thinks different because the last time they harrassed him they beat on him in front of his daughter and he almost lost his job because he was in jail for 5 days on false charges. After they falsely arrested him,I asked him if the police were now just doing thier job.
by Dana
Saturday Dec 2nd, 2006 12:18 PM
COPS, the tv show makes me sick now. I'm a white guy who believes not ALL Black Americans and Mexican Americans are criminals. Every episode of that show demonizes anyone black or brown. Sure, Whites are shown being busted but with less frequency.
by Luigi
Tuesday Dec 5th, 2006 4:32 PM
Dear Pleased citizen,
You won't be too pleased after the new cops
finish shaking you down.
by TRUTH
Wednesday Apr 30th, 2008 3:57 PM
I have grown so inapt and tired of the growing complaints of brutality and unfairness dished by law enforcement. One has to have an understanding and respect of the law before being quick to judge and hypothesize regarding police procedure and guidelines. Police have a job to do. It is to protect and serve their communities from the growing problems of drugs, prostitution, robberies, theft, physical abuse, murder just to name a few. A society to function needs a level of authority to oversee the populace and enforce law. Before judging the police for the blue moon cases highlighted and blown out of proportion by the media, you must ask yourself: Am I willing to risk my life for another stranger? This is what Police do on a daily basis, and demand nothing in return but a measly paycheck and the safety of community.

As for the racial profile and slander that minorities tend to claim as unjustifiable, let's take it from a Police officer's point of view. Kids, teens, young adults are walking around with a sense of immunity from the Family Values we were raised with. Generation X if you will, is prominent and flooding the streets. The young men and women of today are walking around dressed like street thugs, tattooed, smoking pot, drinking 40's, making babies and not taking care of them, unemployed, driving a 500 dollar Pontiac and souping it up like a mock tin can with rims, not to mention the stereo system worth more than the car, ditching school, the list goes on. Where are the PARENTS to oversee what these kids are doing? Apparently not watching the kids, so the POLICE are the fill in parents. So an officer pulls over a young black or Hispanic because of racial profiling? Please, how about the loud tailpipe, duct taped car being driven with 6 kids all tattooed wearing handkerchiefs on their forehead, while gesturing gang signs out a broken passenger window to another group of punks? The kids dress and act in a way those there parents should find unacceptable, and the parents cry because their little angels are being picked on? Take the drugs, money and guns away from the kids who think they are some hardcore gangsters, and their would be no need for "profiling". It's not about race or color; it's about how these little punks present themselves. Not just the kids either, it's the adults who can't get it together. These little "angels" parents, who won't work, get high all day, beat each other, and refuse to be a MAN or WOMAN about their responsibility. In short, it is the PARENTS fault that kids act and appear to the POLICE the way they do.

So, before all of you complete LOSERS cry and sob about POLICE BRUTALITY and the need for law reform, consider this: Most of the inmates in jail and prison are minorities,(blacks and hispanics for the uneducated) most crimes that placed them there are drug, assault and gang related. Just as you all out there were profiling Middle Easterners after Sept 11, the police are only going by instinct and statistics. Will a 'COP" stop a well dressed black or Hispanic male? Probably not, but they will stop a gang geared, grungy, hair slicked, tattooed freak reminiscing a gang member. Sorry, first impressions don't lie. If you don't want to get "randomly" harassed, try dressing like a respectable citizen and take a bike, ride the city bus with your broke @ss. Instead of wasting resources to convert your 81 Cutlass into a Euro-dragster with a ridiculous spoiler and 18 inch speakers. Take the gold jewelry hanging around you or your 7 month old daughter's illegitimate neck and pawn it for some money, take the money and buy some decent clothes, a haircut, and set up a job interview at the local McDonalds. Flipping burgers for minimum wage is alot safer than that whack dope you be trying to push anyway. You kids these days have got to be the biggest F@G @SS Sissies ever! What a crowd of babies. Let me meet you and your group of hard friends. I'll drop kick your stolen gun, burn your car, KILL you and your puss @ss thug friends. When I am done, you'll be sucking my @ss as I am screwing your sister and mother.

This Commentary may not get published because I speak of truth. Keep your kids off the streets and keep your self employed. Peace

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