A Texas Police officer falsely arrested a local cop-watch activist for exercising his First Amendment right, while he documented Austin Police Department making a contentious arrest over the weekend.
Joshua Pineda of the Peaceful Streets Project has been arrested four times by the Austin Police Department (APD) in the past for the same reason, recording the police, and what his group passionately investigates: racist and violent policing tactics of APD in that city’s lively entertainment district.
Each time, Pineda’s charges were later dismissed.
Pineda recorded Austin police pushing around a black man this weekend, along with half a dozen other cop watch activists, near the northeast corner of 6th St. and Trinity.
According to Peaceful Streets Project‘s press release, the man did not appreciate being shoved around and began to voice his dismay to the police about it.
At that point, the situation escalated with the man protesting officers shoving him and most of the Austin police officers just walked away, in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
But Texas cop Cameron Staff became upset about the suspect voicing his displeasure.
So he followed him across the street, say the activists.
Other Peaceful Streets Project volunteers followed, along with several other APD officers, and together they recorded the event, but the group hasn’t released its videos… yet.
Pineda, got down on one knee to stabilize his camera shot and to get the best video documentation possible, which is perfectly legal according to Texas law as well as the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Even though APD officers have been repeatedly instructed by their Chief Art Acevedo, not to interfere with civilians who record officers, at that point Corporal Richard Mears walked up to Pineda and asked him to move back.
And while most officers follow APD’s newly promulgated policy regarding citizens recording officers, it appears Corporal Mears didn’t get the memo.
After Pineda legally stood his ground and continued recording.
Mears arrested him.
This isn’t the Peaceful Streets Project’s first dealing with Corporal Mears either.
The Peaceful Streets Project recently recorded Corporal Mears defending APD officer Cameron Caldwell, after their organization released a viral video of Caldwell macing a non-violent, handcuffed black man APD, which they had detained in the back of a paddy wagon during the famous SXSW festival held annually in March.
In that video, Mears claimed Caldwell was a “great guy” who “took care of business” that night by “taking the fight out” of the victim.
Demonstrably, Corporal Mears displays unreasonable judgement when determining what exactly constitutes a crime and what does not.
The rank of Corporal is a promotion above a regular officer with APD.
Observably, Austin Police promotes officers with questionable judgement.
Joshua Pineda told local news station, KXAN that arrest was ‘retaliation against him’, but wasn’t available for further comment telling PINAC News that he was ‘exhausted from spending the night in jail and needed some rest.’ However, Antonio Buehler the founder of Peaceful Streets Project was available and had this to say:
The Austin Police Department continues to target, harass, assault and arrest members of the Peaceful Streets Project for legally exercise our First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and document police activity. By their continued illegal and unconstitutional actions, they make clear to an ever-growing segment of the population that police are a gang of criminal thugs. They can’t abide by the laws they that are supposed to enforce, and they improperly use the law as a weapon against peaceful activists.
While we promote peace, the police engage in a form of terrorism against the public. Joshua Pineda is the latest victim, although don’t tell Joshua that. Like a growing minority of the population, the criminal acts of the police only give him more resolve to turn their world upside down. With each assault, illegal arrest, rape or murder committed by police, they help grow our ranks. We, and many others, are tired of cries for reform. The police keep planting the seeds that will result in a mass movement to abolish the violent institution of policing. How that will play out is unknown, but we won’t have much sympathy for the cops who never took a stand against the violent thin blue line.
Recently, Peaceful Streets Project took criticism from the public over language Buehler used in a post after news that Houston deputy Darren Goforth was killed.
“Pig executed in Houston. Probably shouldn’t have joined a criminal gang. His bad decisions caught up with him. Blame his parents.”
Peaceful Streets jarring words are intended to highlight the narrative police, and supporters often use to excuse when unarmed black men are recklessly murdered by police, but the above satirical comment in particular was misconstrued, taken out of its original context, and then travelled widely.
Turns out that the deceased Houston deputy Goforth – who was married with two children – was in fact meeting with his mistress when murdered. Goforth’s mistress has since slept with the homicide investigator seeking justice, causing him to leave the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, and eventually compromising more deputies in Houston.
Critics also claim Buehler and members of PSP are always disrespectful to officer while recording.
But that’s not true either.
Below, the two videos contrast how Peaceful Streets Project interacts with police depending on how police interact with them.
And video tape doesn’t lie, Austin Police violates civil rights frequently and without compassion for its citizens.
Their arrest of activist Josh Pineda will probably not lead to a conviction or trial of any sort, but it won’t lead to justice for this cop watcher either.
Because Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and his department tend to give police officers who violate the constitution promotions and raises, and not discipline and firing.
Update: Video of Pineda’s release emerged from the Peaceful Streets Project Facebook page and can be seen directly below.