For nearly three months, members of the Merced chapter of the Brown Berets have been recording the actions of police as they pull over citizens or respond to emergency calls.
“What our intentions are is to hold them accountable,” Merced chapter founder Jesse Ornelas said to the Merced Sun-Star. “And to make sure that the rights of the person they’re stopping are protected.”
Members use using police scanners to track down officers. They then use a cellphone to record the officer’s actions.
The Brown Berets are a Mexican American community organization that emerged during the Chicano Movement of the late 1960s and remains active to this day. It exists as a means of community organizing against police brutality.
Increased surveillance of Merced police was prompted by two recent, high profile police incidences: the 2011 beating of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton and the 2009 death of Oscar Grant in Oakland.
Merced Police Chief Norm Andrade stated, “It is nothing new,” he said. “We have always been under the assumption that we get filmed by people anyway.”
In fact, Merced requires that all sworn officers wear body cameras in an attempt to 1) collect further evidence of perpetrator’s guilt; and 2) safeguard officers from false accusation.
“I don’t want people to think that we’re anti-police,” Ornelas said. “We’re just anti-police brutality and corruption.”
Read more at the Merced Sun-Star.