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Activists March into Olmos Park to Protest Police Actions

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Cars stopped, shop owners stared, and bystanders recorded video of several hundred armed gun-rights activists who marched through Olmos Park on Saturday to the front door of its City Hall to submit petitions demanding the resignation of the municipality’s police chief.

Open Carry Texas, a gun-rights advocacy group, organized the rally after members of the Olmos Park police department, including Chief Rene Valenciano, used a taser during the March 27 arrest of Christopher “CJ” Grisham, the group’s president and founder, while he openly carried a firearm.

At the time of Grisham’s arrest, an Olmos Park ordinance banned the open carry of rifles and shotguns in a public place by anyone other than a law enforcement official, which conflicts with state law. Olmos Park’s City Council repealed that ordinance shortly after the arrest. However, Grisham faces other charges stemming from the encounter with police, including a felony charge of assault on a police officer.

Grisham’s supporters say that Olmos Park police, including Valenciano, used excessive force. A video of the arrest posted on YouTube, sparked outrage among gun rights supporters and prompted the petition drive, which also demands the charges against Grisham, a Temple resident, be dropped.

“Open carry of firearms is legal in Texas, and cities and police must respect our gun rights, our Constitutional rights, our civil rights, and the laws of the State of Texas,” the petition states.

“We support our police department and its leadership,” said Olmos Park resident Denise DeGeare, who watched the march from her condo near City Hall. She and her husband, Joe, said they both supported open carry and hold concealed-handgun licenses, but Denise DeGeare said that she thought the video was “sensationalized” and used by people outside Olmos Park for political purposes.

“I feel like [the police] were doing what they were instructed to do based on ordinances that were in place at the time,” she said. “So for them to demand that our police chief be out of office is ridiculous.”

Marchers carried a variety of firearms, including assault-style rifles, other semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and even musket-style weapons. Other marchers carried handguns in holsters or tucked into waistbands. Some people dressed in camouflage fatigues, helmets, and kevlar vests that had extra ammunition magazines attached to them.

Armed activists prepare to march through Olmos Park and to the front door of its City Hall to demand the resignation of Police Chief Rene Valenciano.

Organizers estimated that at least 350 people participated in the march, which began just outside the municipality’s limits. There was little police presence visible throughout the duration of the march. San Antonio Police Department officers occasionally directed traffic, and at least one unmarked police SUV appeared to be monitoring the marchers as they traveled along McCullough Avenue. 

Ohio resident Jeffry Smith said he drove to San Antonio to participate in the rally after seeing the video of Grisham’s arrest.

“If you don’t use your rights you lose them,” said Smith.

Hundreds of armed second amendment activists march through Olmos Park and to the front door of its City Hall on Saturday to demand the resignation of Police Chief Rene Valenciano.

Hundreds of armed activists march through Olmos Park and to the front door of its City Hall on Saturday to demand the resignation of Police Chief Rene Valenciano.

The state of Texas allows for the open carry of rifles and shotguns, and since Jan. 1, 2016, it has been legal for Texans with concealed-carry handgun licenses to openly carry handguns.

Yet Becca Defelice, one of six other mothers from Olmos Park and Alamo Heights protesting the rally, argued that the open carry of rifles violates a separate state disorderly conduct ordinance that says a person commits an offense if an individual “displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.”

“In what universe does that not shock or make you feel threatened when you see 400 people open carrying long guns down a residential street?” Defelice said. “That causes alarm.”

Sara Davis stands in opposition to the march through Olmos Park and to the front door of its City Hall to demand the resignation of Police Chief Rene Valenciano.

Sara Davis stands in opposition to the march through Olmos Park and to the front door of its City Hall to demand the resignation of Police Chief Rene Valenciano.

Alamo Heights, another municipality within San Antonio, on Wednesday repealed its ordinance banning the open carry of rifles and shotguns.

Defelice said she understood why Alamo Heights had to repeal the ordinance. However, she said that she wanted to see the Texas Legislature overturn open carry in its next session or require licensing to openly carry a rifle or shotgun.

David Amad, vice president of Open Carry Texas, said that no one participating in the rally carried weapons to cause alarm, and noted that organizers instructed the marchers to carry their weapons pointed to the ground.

“All of these folks are carrying their weapons in a manner calculated to educate,” Amad said. “Calculated just to exercise their rights, not to scare anybody.”

Members of This Is Texas Freedom Force, which describes itself as a Texans’ rights group, also participated in the march. Kerrie Hillyer, a TITFF representative, said the group would continue to protest what it called illegal open carry ordinances around Bexar County. While Olmos Park, Alamo Heights, and Hollywood Park have repealed ordinances banning the open carry of rifles and shotguns in public places, she said they would examine similar ordinances in the municipalities of Live Oak and Windcrest.

The march concluded at the Olmos Park City Hall, where Amad attempted to deliver the stack of petitions. No one exited the building to take the petitions or speak with the demonstrators.

“If they think this is the last event, they’ve lost their mind,” Amad said to the crowd outside City Hall. “We’re going to come back, and come back, and keep coming back until they clean up their act, do what’s right, and start respecting the rights of the citizens of the state of Texas.”

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WATCH: Copwatch | Gang Unit Vehicle Stop Foot Bail | Tossed Gun | Man Tasered

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San Diego Copwatch April 10, 2018

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POLICE claim Man said ‘shoot me’ twice before he was shot to death by police, Audio Experts Heard Different

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Las Vegas Metro police shot and killed a 22-year-old man early Friday morning after he reached for a weapon and defied commands repeatedly, police said.

 

Officers Francisco Rivera, 28, and Padilla Mills, 23, were involved in the shooting in the 200 block of Madge Lane, near Charleston Boulevard and Sloan Lane.

Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Monday said officers were on their way to another call when they spotted Junior David Lopez driving recklessly with two women in a blue Chrysler 300.

“Hey, what are you doing? Stay in the car man,” one of the officers yelled. “Stay in the ****ing car! Don’t move! Do not ****ing move!”

When officers stopped the vehicle, Lopez got out of the vehicle with a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 firearm in his hand then tossed it on the ground, police said.

Zimmerman said Lopez defied officers’ commands to put his hands up and step away from the weapon. Instead Lopez grabbed the firearm and raised it, he said.

“Hey, get away from the gun!” officers yelled. “Do not move! Don’t reach for the gun, man. Do not reach the gun.”

Officers believe the body camera footage shows Lopez twice saying the words “shoot me.”

“I don’t know what was going through his head, but he was given ample opportunity to be taken into custody and he wasn’t,” Zimmerman said.

Officers Rivera and Mills both fired their weapons. Lopez fell to the ground and rolled over. Police say he reached for the guns once more. Officer Mills fired one more round, striking Lopez.

“We’re going to need medical for the subject,” one of the officers said, over his radio. “He’s reaching. Don’t reach for it! … His 4-13 is about one foot from his left hand. Don’t!”

Lopez was taken to Sunrise Hospital where he later died at 5:15 a.m.

The two women in the car were not injured. One was Lopez’ girlfriend and the owner of the vehicle. The other was a friend.

Both women on Monday night.

“I remember when we got pulled over they told us to get the **** out of the car, for him to get the **** out of the car. Why don’t I hear that in the video?” said Lopez’s girlfriend, Amber. “He was the best thing in my life… He said, ‘Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me.’ You can’t hear the don’t, but you can hear him. ‘Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me.'”

Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman said 22-year-old Junior Lopez told officers to shoot him, twice.

“I don’t know what was going through his head but he was given ample opportunity to be taken into custody and he wasn’t.”

Lopez’s girlfriend said he was yelling, “Don’t shoot me!”

Lopez’s girlfriend also says officers told him to get out of the car… before they yelled at him to get back in the car. She argues that the first portion was conveniently cut out of the video released today.

“Everything they said is not true,” said Jorge Luis Martinez, Lopez’s father. “The video is not complete. ”

Lopez had one prior charge for false statement to a police officer in North Las Vegas in 2016

Both officers have been employed with Metro since May 2016. They are both assigned to the Community Policing Division Northeast Area Command. They were both placed on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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Freedom of Speech Everywhere except a Courthouse so Says the US Attorney General

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How an anti-illegal immigration YouTuber turned a $280 fine into a federal criminal trial

How an anti-illegal immigration YouTuber turned a $280 fine into a federal criminal trial

Gary Gileno

Gary Gileno is shown outside the federal courthouse on Friday before his trial. Gileno was fighting a $280 citation for failing to comply with orders while trying to bring a video camera into a L.A. County Sheriff oversight meeting in 2017. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

 

It began as a $280 citation for using a video camera in a courthouse.

But to Gary Gileno, at stake was much more than the couple hundred bucks he was told to pay.

An attorney for the anti-illegal immigration activist and prolific YouTuber told a judge Friday that the four-hour trial over the fine was really about preventing government abuse of power, protecting the rights of journalists and ensuring that citizens can hold public officials accountable.

“If he is convicted … it’ll chill speech, it’ll chill journalism, it’ll say the federal government has a superpower to do whatever it wants,” attorney William Becker said. “This is unprecedented. This is what we expect to see in a police state.”

A federal prosecutor dismissed the rhetoric, arguing the Class C misdemeanor charge was simply about Gileno’s refusal to follow a security officer’s orders.

The unusual legal battle came after Gileno, 32, tried to bring a video camera into a meeting of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission last year. California law specifically allows the public to use recording devices at such meetings, but the commission’s meeting in August was held at a federal appellate court building where filming is prohibited.

Someone just detained at federal courthouse, where public Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission meeting takin place, 4 trying 2 take pic

The commission, a civilian panel set up to monitor the Sheriff’s Department and listen to public concerns about the agency, had been gathering in different locations around the county since it began meeting in January 2017. This was the first time commissioners had met at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals building in Pasadena.

As Gileno entered the courthouse, deputy U.S. marshals told him he had to leave his camera in his car. Gileno insisted he had a right to record the meeting under the First Amendment and the state’s open meetings law, known as the Brown Act, and began filming the officers.

They responded by handcuffing and detaining him for about an hour.

After Gileno was cited, Robert C. Bonner, a former federal judge who chairs the commission, told The Times he wasn’t aware of certain provisions of the state’s open meetings law and relied on the county’s lawyers for legal advice.

Rather than pay the fine, Gileno opted to take his case to trial, facing a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and 30 days in jail if found guilty.

Gileno, who began his YouTube career after showing up at his local council meeting in West Covina, said he has made a living off of his channel in recent years. His copious videos — 3,237 and counting — focus primarily on denouncing illegal immigration and promoting supporters of President Trump. His criminal case may have been a boon for his channel — a recent screed on his own prosecution was viewed more than 10,000 times.

On Friday, two court security officers who clashed with Gileno took the stand and testified that there were signs clearly posted saying photography wasn’t allowed in the courthouse. They said Gileno grew belligerent and disruptive, turning on his camera after being warned several times that it was not allowed.

Testifying in his own defense, Gileno said he was a freelance citizen journalist who has attended and filmed local government meetings and legislative town halls for about five years.

“I believe in the United States of America, you should be able to keep tabs on the government,” he said.

In more than 250 other public meetings he attended, he said, he never had an issue with bringing in his video camera. He said the security officer all of a sudden “exploded” at him, so he turned on his camera “to document what I felt was a violation of my rights at the time.”

Assistant U.S. Atty. Benedetto Lee Balding said Gileno’s disruption of security officers working at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was no small matter. It was Gileno who escalated the encounter by refusing to go along with the officers’ orders, he said.

“He decided unilaterally he didn’t have to follow the rules,” the prosecutor said.

Becker, who primarily represents conservatives and Christians in free-speech cases, worked for free on Gileno’s case. He argued that the federal courthouse essentially became a “limited public forum” when it hosted the commission meeting, which Gileno should have been allowed to film under the state law.

Magistrate Judge Jean P. Rosenbluth said she could understand why Gileno was angry and frustrated given his past experience filming the meetings, but she said that didn’t excuse his failure to follow orders. Security at the appellate courthouse, where justices could be filmed without their knowledge, was a serious concern, the judge said.

“Even if these seem arbitrary or don’t make any sense to Mr. Gileno or anybody else, clearly they serve this very important purpose,” Rosenbluth said, finding Gileno guilty.

Acknowledging that a “misunderstanding” had led to the kerfuffle, the prosecutor recommended a sentence of no fine, which would leave Gileno having to pay just $35 in court fees. Rosenbluth said she felt the need for “some consequences” and ordered Gileno to pay a $50 fine, bringing his total penalty to $85 with the fees.

Gileno said he was “outraged” and “astounded.” After the verdict, he turned to nine supporters in the audience, including a man in a red “Make California Great Again” hat, and exclaimed, “I was never read my rights!”

His attorney said they would seriously consider an appeal and possibly a civil lawsuit against the government.

“What the judge just said is if a city council can move to a federal building, they can keep the meeting secret,” Gileno said. “That’s grossly illegal.”

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