Open-carry cop-watchers say they are "pissed off patriots"

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

In Arlington TX, a group of Ron Paul style libertarians have become self-appointed cop-watchers. Armed with guns and video cameras, and sometimes wearing police hats with pig ears, they scan police radios to learn where police activity is taking place and drive to the locations to record the police. They also record traffic stops, heckle cops, and "bait cops into on-camera arguments about the Second Amendment and state laws."

Brandy Zadrozny of the Daily Beast reports on the movement in her story, Texas Gun Slingers Police the Police—With a Black Panthers Tactic.

Cop-watching — the practice of observing and documenting police interactions to try to reduce brutality and civil-rights violations—was started by the Black Panther Party in Oakland in the 1960s. Panthers carrying shotguns or wearing pistols on their hips would hit the streets with law books and watch the police to demand accountability. The open carrying of guns was perfectly legal then, though laws were soon enacted to restrict the practice, due in large part to the Panthers' enthusiastic exercising of their rights.

Today, cop-watching is back, mostly in response to killings of unarmed citizens by police and controversial policies like New York City's stop-and-frisk. Many cop-watch organizations like to tout the Black Panthers' origin story, but due to laws or common sense, no longer arm themselves. "Today, our cameras are our weapons," New York City's People's Justice says on its site.

Not so much in Texas.