The Columbia Police Department seems to have a habit of targeting its critics. Recently a strange and alarming document surfaced from the deepest reaches of the CPD offices. The document, a sort of wanted poster, bears the face of local activist and police watch-dog Matt Akins, founder of Citizens For Justice.
His website and Youtube channel together form an exhaustive database of information on our local police force. Matt and his small army of citizen journalist volumteers answer calls from concerned citizens and, with video camera in hand, keep an eye on the actions of the CPD.
Needless to say, Mr. Akins is not too popular with the local cops.
The following is from Matt Akins’s Facebook page:
This poster was prominently displayed in several locations throughout the Columbia Police Department during the Fall of 2011 while a group of Shepard Boulevard Elementry School students were given a tour of the department.
cfjweb.ssos.us was the original home of Citizens For Justice (now located at www.CFJComo.com). This site was never public, but had been being tracked by the CPD/CPOA(Columbia Police Officers’ Association) as they sent emails letting us know this (Scare tactic? Maybe).
The arrest being referred to occurred in May of 2010 and was one of the primary reasons I started Citizens For Justice.
I was LEGALLY carrying a concealed weapon on my person within the confines of my vehicle (as defined under Missouri’s Peaceable Journey Statute), but the arresting officer didn’t agree with me and went so far as to supplant evidence against me by loading a round into the chamber and reporting he had recovered it from me this way.
My car was impounded, I was booked for unlawful use of a weapon, and had to hire an attorney for the 6 month legal battle that would ensue.
After repeatedly asking for the footage of the arrest to show the officer engaging in misconduct, I was told that it either had been deleted, disappeared, or never existed AND MY CASE WAS DROPPED.
I believe that makes this a closed record(and therefore a HUGE violation of my civil rights), but I’m not an attorney so I could be wrong.
Either way, the poster was used to make me look like a wanted criminal to a bunch a elementry school kids and I couldn’t even get an answer as to who created it or put it up.
Thanks a lot CPD!
This is not the first time the CPD has targeted a local critic. In 2010, in the wake of the infamous Kinloch Ct. SWAT raid and dog shooting, a local citizen was targeted by an officer for merely exercising his right to free speech.
Local citizen Greg Williams attended a demonstration condemning the dangerous, bumbling raid and was immediately targeted by CPD Officer Robert Fox. Officer Fox ran background checks on the protesters, found that Williams had a juvenile record, and then released those records in the comment section of the Columbia Daily Tribune. To the credit of Chief Burton, Officer Fox was reprimanded for releasing the sealed juvenile records in a public forum.
Officer Fox escaped prosecution because he claimed that he received his information from a dispatcher who did not alert him to the fact that the records were sealed.
From the Tribune:
Fox is a member of the six-man SWAT unit that entered the southwest Columbia home of Jonathan Whitworth in February.
Williams, with his pit bull, was protesting the death of a pit bull and injuries to another dog as a result of the raid.
Fox responded to a previous posting that said, “Seeing the people of Columbia stand up to this totally unacceptable police brutality refreshes my pride in America.”
“Hahahahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Fox responded. “The guy with the ‘stop the brutality’ sign has multiple convictions for assaulting people with guns!!! I’d like him to stop the brutality of humans!
“Your case has never had any solid basis other than you didn’t like seeing what’s required to police Columbia and you want weed to be legal. The majority of the people in Columbia don’t care enough to comment, go to a meeting or protest at the post office. You’re all irrelevant. We need to move on.”
A commenter later wrote back to Fox, “Greg Williams in the picture, can file a defamation of character and slander against you … so maybe a retraction should be in order.”
Fox responded by posting, “It ain’t slander if it’s true. It is.”
More troubling than the release of juvenile records is the notion that police are openly investigating citizens for merely exercising their God-given right to free speech. Officer Fox looked into Greg Williams’s juvenile record in hopes of finding information that could be used for intimidation. The posters of Matt Akins that were prominently displayed by the CPD in areas frequented by civilian visitors indicate a clear plan to target Mr. Akins.
Shouldn’t our police be protecting the fundamental natural rights that are the underpinning of our free society? Shouldn’t our police be ensuring that our rights to free speech and to petition our government for the redress of grievances are protected? Instead it appears that at least some of our local police are determined to use their considerable power to violate these rights.