Cop Block tour makes a stop at The Blue Fugue

Cop Block's slogan is "badges don't grant extra rights."
Cop Block co-founder Pete Eyer explains the idea of Columbia people from different organizations came together in the Blue Fugue on Tuesday night to share their opinions about police accountability, promotion of individual rights and effective tactics to use while interacting with police.

The Blue Fugue hosted Cop Block as part of its nationwide tour Tuesday night. Cop Block is a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goal of police accountability, according to the group's website. Its slogan is "Badges don't grant extra rights."

Discussions at meetings covered several aspects of legal rights in the U.S. At least 13 people showed up for the meeting, including Keep Columbia Free President Mark Flakne and Citizens for Justice founder Matt Akins.

According to its website, Keep Columbia Free's goal is to protect Columbia citizens' natural rights. Cop Block has a more national focus.

Akins said Citizens for Justice keeps police accountable by recording their actions. Akins said when he sees police activity he starts video taping so he doesn't miss anything. The videos are posted to his YouTube channel, which has 99 subscribers and 47,000 views.

"When you show up with a video camera, attitudes change," Akins said.

A police officer that is being recorded should "just do their job," Lt. Scott Young of the Columbia Police Department said. The police department can also record officers from cameras in their cars. Young said officers do not have any control over being recorded.

Pete Eyre, the discussion leader, wore a shirt emblazoned with the phrase, "Good people nullify bad laws." Eyre said he thinks a bad law is one that penalizes a crime when there is no victim. He also said he does not look to the police to protect or defend his rights.

While speaking to the group, Eyre referred to cops as "police employees," bail as "ransom," taxes as "stolen money" and jail as "a cage."

"I believe there is a demand for safety and security but I do not think it's best provided by a monopoly of coercion, which is what police are," Eyre said.

Eyre and the other meeting attendants said they do not hate the police.

"Police are people," Eyre said. "I don't hate police. I want to have a conversation with them."

According to those in attendance, the problems discussed were not just bad cops. Nicholas Recker, who attended the meeting out of interest, said the incentives are in all the wrong spots.

"There is a profit incentive for police crackdown on crimes that are essentially victimless, drugs or speeding," Recker said. "But crimes that people actually care about, (like) theft … there is no incentive to spend the time it takes to solve it."

Young said he feels differently.

"That is not true," Young said, in response to Recker's statement. "We don't see any direct financial result from traffic fines. Any drug seizure funds are controlled by City Council. It's not a factor in deciding what cases to pursue. We feel a huge burden to catch burglars."

The attendees of the Cop Block meeting expressed distrust in their police departments.

"I think it's a mistake to automatically trust someone because they are in a uniform," Recker said.

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