“Fuck the police!” said Joshua Pineda, cop-watcher and Peaceful Streets activist as he left jail, “Especially fucking Mears.”
Austin cop Corporal Mears executed a false arrest of Pineda for “recording too closely” this weekend and charged him with failure to obey a police officer and interfering with public duties.
After Pineda was charged and booked, a magistrate immediately threw out the charges for interfering with public duties.
Pineda still faces a charge of failure to obey a police officer when he refused to get back to a distance that satisfied Corporal Mears.
And he still has to hassle with the department because APD not only took his camera, but also the collar he wears that he says represents different phases of his life.
Just a year ago this week Texas legislators in Austin dumped a bill that would’ve criminalized recording the police by setting a firm distance that would allow cops to arrest citizens for photography if they’re too close.
A bad idea.
But even though that effort failed, this Austin cop executed one really flawed arrest.
Mears acted just as if he had the law that failed, on his side.
Pineda is a dedicated citizen journalist and cop-watch activist, frequently taking to the streets to police the police.
He’s recorded police for nine straight nights at Austin’s SXSW annual music festival in 2016.
His poignant videos have made the local news.
So this past weekend, Josh Pineda was arrested when Austin Police officers decided to retaliate against him for documenting their racist and brutal policing practices inside that city’s famed entertainment district.
Pineda walked out of jail to greet his comrades, still wearing the Peaceful Streets Project t-shirt from the day earlier and they documented his release and showed support as you can see in the interview video below.
“Do you have anything you want to tell the people?” asked the group’s founder Antonio Buehler, who moved outside of Austin city limits to avoid police harassment. Pineda replied:
“It was a clear act of retaliation from what happened earlier in the week after the [KXAN] interview, when they [Auston Police Department] tried to call us domestic terrorists. Where they played us up all week to be domestic terrorists that we were out after rather family. We got out there, and in less than an hour I got snatched. They went immediately for us immediately after one of the first stops. They’re starting a complete campaign to try to demoralize the organization, trying to undermine our meaning in the community. I don’t expect this to be the last time over the next couple of months that I get arrested filming.”
“So if they keep arresting you, typically what they do is they keep arresting people over and over to chill their rights,” Buehler said to Pineda, alluding to the Austin PD’s many acts of prior restraint aimed chilling free speech, “So if APD keeps arresting you, you’ll eventually stop coming out,” Beuhler asked, and Pineda replied:
“Absolutely not. I have no intentions of slowing down. I’ll be going out next Friday night. So I’m not slowing down one bit. They think this is funny. They think it’s funny to come out an intimidate me in comments sections on social media. Scare people out of my life, harass me, take away my freedom’ Shit’s not fucking funny. I don’t appreciate being taunted; I don’t appreciate being violated. It’s only going to further motivate me and push me to continue filming even more.”
“They have the audacity to call us criminals,” he concluded. “when they employ murderers.”
Pineda explained that the man he was recording, before he was unlawfully arrested, became upset with officer the when other Austin police officers put their hands on him and the suspect verbally protested.
Most of the Austin cops walked away.
But a few of them persisted to harass the man.
That’s why Pineda approached the situation and kneeled down to document it all with his camera.
And that’s when Officer Richard Mears unlawfully ordered Pineda to ‘get back’.
Knowing his First Amendment rights, Pineda refused.
He stayed on public property and continued recording the police performing their duties in public.
Then Corporal Richard Mears became upset and arrested him.
Pineda stated the arrest was in retaliation for comments he made to a local news outlet.
“I have absolutely no interest in negotiation with them,” said Pineda to local news outlet KXAN., “except for degrading them. I want APD abolished, I want the police officer union abolished and I want something new established within the community with direct democratic representation.”
Which may not be a bad idea.
Austin police department is a hotbed of civil rights violating police officers, without end in sight.
You can’t even eat a burger in Austin without police harassment.
Peaceful Streets Project said they want police to be treated like police treat black people, and other groups they target like Austin’s homeless population.
“The things they say, the things they write are so vile, and there’s no accountability. I don’t consider these people to be legitimate,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said in response to Peaceful Streets police oversight activities, forgetting that public servants are supposed to represent all interests, not just the interests of beat cops.
“And I think it’s important for the folks that report the news and watch the news to get a glimpse into the mind and the mindset of this particular group.”
Ironically, over the last several years APD has shot and killed several unarmed black men.
But not one Austin cop has been criminally indicted for it.
How’s that for ‘accountability’?
Pineda has been arrested four times for recording the police. His cop-watch comrade Antonio Buehler has been arrested seven times, for activities that are legal according to the Constitution .
Charges against both activists have been drop–every time.
Considering the totality of the circumstances of Austin Police Department’s behavior, and their complete and utter lack of accountability, it’s not difficult to understand why there’s real animosity between this department and police accountability and free speech activists.
Not only are they dealing with a department who refuses to follow the law as well as APD’s own policy about recording, they’re also dealing with a department that employs several known murderers.
But photography is not a crime, it’s a First Amendment protected right.
Even Austin Police can’t deny that they’re in America, and that is the law of the land here.
Until someone rips up the Constitution and tosses it into the trash.
Like Austin police officers are so fond of doing.
Because their Chief Acevedo isn’t the kind of Texas lawman who goes into a town to clean it up; he’s the kind of lawman who likes to cover things up.
Like open civil rights violations.
Rest assured, he’ll never come to the defenses of activists he doesn’t like even if their actions are %100 lawful.
And that tells you all you need to know about APD and its leadership who is currently in possession of Pineda’s camera.
And it explains why Pineda is willing to sacrifice being arrested when he could be out at the movies or having fun instead of volunteering his time keeping a watchful eye on APD.
We’ll update again when we receive video of the arrest. Below is a video of Pineda being greeted and interviewed by his fellow activists outside of the Travis County Jail.
Ed. Note: Story originally titled: Austin Cop Arrested Cop-Watcher Video Emerges