2022 Blake Street, Berkeley, California 94704

It's your right to watch the cops

Who Is Copwatch?

We are a group of community residents and students who have become outraged by the escalation of police misconduct, harassment and brutality in recent years. We have joined together to fight for our rights and the rights of our community by taking on the task of directly monitoring police conduct. That's right. We walk the streets and watch the police. Although it is important to resist police brutality by taking cops to court, filing complaints and having demonstrations, we believe that it is crucial to be in the streets letting the police know that THE PEOPLE will hold them accountable for their behavior in the community. We have no single political or religious belief. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. What we share is the belief that citizen participation in these issues and monitoring of the police is a crucial first step towards building a movement which is capahle of stopping police violence and of challenging the increasingly powerful role of police throughout our society.

lf you have been a victim of police abuse, witnesses abuse or are just plain fed up uith police misconduct and want to do something about it, give us a call. We will train you to Copwatch. We also need artistsc writers, researchers, outreach workers, organizers and others to help. We are an all volunteer group so your help is ALWAYS needed!

History of Copwatch

Copwatch was started in March of 1990 in response to escalatlng abuse of people in the Telegraph Avenue area of Berkeley. At that time a U C. student cooperative called Barrington was literally attacked by police and many of its residents were brutalized. The People's Café, uhich existed to give support to homeless people in People's Park was taken by the University in the middle of the night. Harassment of homeless people and others was increasing in frequency and severity. People came togetber out of a mutual understanding that this violence, which targeted the poor, street people, people of color, activists and counter culture types was a direct result of pressure from the University.

Although there were many possible responses, the original group that responded to the situation decided that it was most important to carefully document what was happening and to use our presence as a deterrent to these types of misconduct. We have been working steadily ever since.

In 1991 Copwatch worked extensively to document police brutality during the People's Park riots. We documented the introduction of rubber and wooden bullets into the Berkeley police arsenal. We also held demonstrations against the brutal beating of a Berkeley Police Review Commissioner named Osha Neuman. We also organized a response to the verdict in the Rodney King case back in 1992 that drew over 2000 people to the corner of University and San Pablo Avenue.

We are based in Berkeley so we have always believed that our main responsibility is to the people of our city and we try to stay focussed on uhat's happening in our own backyard However, we have provided assistamce to other groups in the Bay Area as uell as other statcs to help get other Copwatch-type groups started. We have also participated in coalitions such as the one that was formed when 19 year old Jerrold Hall was shot in the back of thc head by Bart police officer Fred Crabtree in 1993. We have uorked with other groups to stop laws uhich discriminate against homeless people such as anti-panhandling laws, anti-sleeping and most recently campaigns to make it a crime to SIT on a public sidewalk.

The campaign to ban police use of pepper spray was started by Copwatch in 1995. For over two years, we workcd to alert the public to the dangers of pepper spray and the many deaths related lo its use. Although we have not yet won the ban, the issue has become national and people all over the country are questioning the usefulness of this chemical weapon.

Copwatch is also part of the National Coalition for Police Accountability and we support the Stolen Lives Project which is collecting names of all those who have been killed by police nationwide. In addition, we have also been involved in efforts to:

  • Strengthen civilian oversight
  • Control University of California Police
  • Expose community policing as being a public relations scam
  • Publisb our COPWATCH REPORT
  • Work with individuals to get justice in their cases
  • Educate the community about their rights when dealing uith the police
Purpose and Goals

  1. To reduce police violence and harassment through accountability.

    1. Directly observe the police on the street
      • Walk in pairs; stop, watch and document incidents
      • Identify police (name, badge nunber, department, ear license plate)
      • Record with camera, video camera if possible
      • Write detailed report describing the incident
      • Collect witness statements

    2. Follow up with public pressure in legal proceedings
      • Support brutality victims io defense of false charges
      • Encourage people to file complaints or even sue police
      • Lobby to stop discriminatory legislation and policies that increase
      • police powers over people's civil and human rights

  2. To empower and unite the community by looking out for each other

    1. Educate the community about their rights
      • Distribute literature; do "Know Your Rights" training

    2. Expand community support for victims of police crime
      • Publicize incidents in the Copwatch Report and local press
      • Broaden community understanding of issues related to police violence

    3. Encourage pevple to solve problems WITHOUT police intervention

    4. Encourage people to exercise their right to observe the police
What Can You Do?

EVERYONE CAN WATCH THE COPS! You have the right to observe. Copwatch encourages everyone to watch the police. Often the cops on the street will tell you to move along or that the incident is none of your business. But remember the street is a public area and the police are supposed to be public servants. Everyone has the right to observe the police at work. The police also MUST identify themselves either by name or number. Write down police names and badge numbers. Write down what happened, get the names and numbers of witnesses and contact Copwatch or file a complaint with the local Police Review Commission (In Berkeley the PRC is (510) 644-6716).

ORGANIZE TO STOP POLICE VlOLENCE: Start a Copwatch group in your community. The first step towards public control of the police is to be aware of what they do during their shifts, what policies they are following (or violating), and which cops are which. Be visible, walk the streets in pairs and document police activity. Keep files on the police and on departmental policies.

GET THE WORD OUT! Publicize incidents of police violence. Besides monitoring police. Copwatch also keeps tabs on UC and City affairs by going to meetings and reading official communications. We also support people by going to their police review commission hearings and helping them to teach others about what is really happening in our neighborhoods.

DONATE FUNDS! We raise money through music benefits, garage sales and your donations. Make check payable to "Copwatch". Send it to the address listed below. (Thanks!)

JOIN COPWATCH! We are a completely volunteer organization and


Weekly Meetings Mondays at 8 pm at our office
2022 Blake Street, Berkeley, California 94704
(510) 548-0425


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