Sacramento Copwatch

Policing the Police

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Principles of Sacramento Copwatch

The following is an always-incomplete and ever-evolving list of principles that Copwatch seeks to use as a foundation for its goals and activities within the community. Please feel free to make suggestions so that we can be more holistic and all-inclusive in our approach to keeping our streets safe from injustice.

1) THE RIGHT TO RIGHTS: Our 1st Amendment rights are very valuable and must be asserted forcefully when infringed upon in any way by the police. All citizens have the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of press, both of which are protected under the Constitution. These rights legally protect Copwatchers and allow us to observe and report what the cops do, as long as we are not interfering with police activity.  Furthermore, those detained by the police also have rights, and Copwatchers do their best to communicate this to the detained. It is crucial that all rights are protected and maintained at all times. Copwatch aims to uphold this principle by informing the police of detainees’ rights that they sometimes have the tendency to “forget about,” as well as to inform the detainees of their rights if legally permitted, either by speech or with a Copwatch Know Your Rights card.

2) NON-VIOLENCE: We stand firmly with some of the great liberators of oppressed peoples in upholding the principle that non-violence is the only way to bring about enduring systemic change, which starts with policing the police and preventing the oppression of communities of color. If violence and force are used against the police by both those oppressed as well as Copwatchers, this provides justification for the police to use even greater force to wipe out the movement we are trying to create, leaving us injured, dead, jailed, broke, disorganized and demoralized. Violence begets violence, and any battle fought on violent grounds will be lost by the oppressed or minority party because of the sheer magnitude of force at the disposal of the majority, the oppressor, the cops. Using violence as a means for change leads to more desolation for future generations hoping for a better quality of life. For us to build a lasting movement of justice, we have to abide by the current legal system and its laws, however institutionally racist and oppressive it may be, or else we will fall victim to it. Therefore, we currently endorse non-violent methods when interacting with and observing cops, since such methods tend to de-escalate potential violent situations, which is one of our goals.

3) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT/ INVOLVEMENT: In order for Copwatch to successfully check  law enforcement, it needs participation from members of its own community. That is, in order for a movement to be successful, members of the oppressed minority must unite and build the movement themselves. Change comes from the ground up, and communities cannot rely on outside forces to protect them because this leads to dependence, making the movement unsustainable in the long-run. By engaging the community with legal information and teaching techniques to observe the police, Copwatch wishes to empower communities, thus cultivating tools for self-determination in the face of oppressive social systems and structures.  Beginning with a united community, a sustainable movement encourages self-determination, freedom of expression, diversity of opinion and mutual aid, all of which manifests solidarity, support and a genuine desire to look out for the safety of all when the police are present.

4) SELF-RELIANCE: A self-reliant community is grass-roots, self-built, sustainable and self-sufficient, not relying on outside influences for assistance. So, Copwatch seeks to empower communities to become united and self-reliant so that when problems do arise within the community, the members of the community have the tools to solve the disputes themselves, without having to call the cops to do it for them.


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