Copwatch was surprised to read in East Atlanta Patch that the Kirkwood Neighborhood Association had censured our organization, and we were shocked to see the reasons they cited. All three of the accusations against Copwatch are false, and it's troubling that they got this far before we were given a chance to address them. Hopefully we can dispel them now:
- Copwatch did not "arm" anyone with anything during the April 9th march against police brutality. We film the police, and we educate people about their legal rights. That's all we ever do, and that's all we were doing on April 9th. Some protesters did throw rocks, but Copwatch did not encourage that and certainly did not "arm" them. If anyone has objections about the riot, they should be addressed to the participants, not us. We also did not call the police, nor would we ever call police to any scene in order to cause a confrontation. Our organization exists specifically to prevent police violence; it's bizarre to imagine that we would try to provoke it.
- Copwatch did not attempt to obscure the scent of tracking dogs, nor has it ever even occurred to us to do such a thing. This accusation is so strange it's almost laughable. We strictly avoid interference with police investigations, all we do is film them. When the police give us lawful orders we always comply. If a Copwatch activist had ever interfered with an investigation, the police would not hesitate to arrest the offender for obstruction. That has never happened.
- There are two reasons that many of our reports are related to Edgewood Courts. One is simply that many of our activists live two blocks from the apartment complex, so we can more readily patrol that area. The other is obvious to anyone who lives in or near the apartments: police activity is disproportionately high there, including harassment and misconduct. The many documented cases of misconduct in one apartment complex is not evidence of "favoritism to criminal elements", it is evidence that something is seriously wrong with policing in that complex. It should indeed be cause for alarm, but blaming Copwatch is shooting the messenger.
If these accusations were not deliberate lies, any misconceptions could have been easily cleared up by simply contacting Copwatch and asking. Yet nobody connected to the Kirkwood Neighborhood Association ever contacted us to ask us about any of these issues. Instead, they went so far as to hold a formal vote condemning our entire organization before extending us even a basic opportunity to address these rumors. This lack of good faith is disheartening, and not what we expect from a democratic neighborhood association.
Copwatch works for transparency and accountability. While we welcome criticism and feedback from the communities we're part of, we condemn the use of misrepresentations by APD officials to attempt to discredit our work. We hope that this incident encourages people to be skeptical the next time police officials make unsupported accusations against anyone. The public has a responsibility to demand better.