Update: The police supporter has been identified as Janet Keshl. She sent a message to us from THIS Facebook profile threatening a lawsuit for recording her without permission. Someone should let Janet know that running up to a member of the press after a city council meeting while they're holding a camera leaves you no expectation of privacy. As you can see in the photo she is claiming that I told her the video camera was off. I invite you all to watch the entire encounter above. The video with her was recorded from before she walked up to us. Please let us know if you see or hear anyone claim to have turned off a camera. She is clearly attempting to intimidate with her "just wait" comment. Why is it that those that claim to support the law and police so much are always willing to use violence to backup their ideas?
On Wednesday, June 21, 2017 Severin Freeman spoke at a city council meeting in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His intent was to bring accountability to the Police department.
This was not his first time speaking to this council about their cops. In fact, last year Severin promised the members of the council that if they would not hold their cops accountable, then he would. Ever since then, Allentown has its police encounters filmed by citizens on a regular basis.
Between groups like this blog and individuals empowered by their cell phones, Allentown police were put under the microscope.
The result was a police department that quickly began to change its ways. Even the Police chief decided that the new microscope was too much to handle and moved on to a new town. That was a good thing though- he made way for a new chief (Keith Morris) that seemed to want to re-dedicate the police force to the community.
Things seemed to be looking up for a good amount of time. Even the citizen journalists that film the police encounters noticed an attitude difference. The officers went from angry & arrogant to polite & courteous. Some encounters were even downright friendly.
All of that progress reversed several months ago. Chief Morris moved on to a new town and a new chief was named from within the force. This new chief has all but vanished from the public. Where Chief Morris was all over Facebook and newspapers doing community events, his predecessor has replaced such images with generic, impersonal police propaganda.
Chief Glen Dorney not only has ended the public appearances, but he also has clearly ended the department's accountability streak. From the time he took over, officers have gone from respectful to dangerous.
The public even feels the difference. Citizens are quoted as saying "don't trust these cops" and "all they do is harass us." Severin was even given a parking ticket, while his car was running and he was next to it. They have become very blatant about their opinion of people filming them. Rather than respect the rights of Citizens, they have acted like bullies.
That brazen behavior has recently turned from frat boys to dangerous. In a recent encounter posted on YouTube, a citizen accountability seeker was attempting to confront an officer that ran a stop sign. The man begins to ask the officer if he was on an emergency call. That is when another officer can be seen walking up to the homeowner and saying something to her. The homeowner immediately runs off the porch and gets in the citizen journalist's face yelling "I just got permission to beat your ass." At that point, all of the officers turn and walk away laughing while the woman puts her hands on the journalist. The journalist yells to the officers to file assault charges but is ignored as they drive away.
This situation is beyond unprofessional- This is ILLEGAL. These officers provoked an assault, then failed to render aid. BADGE or not, it's a crime in Pennsylvania to knowingly put another person in danger.
After seeing this video, Severin Freeman goes to city council to tell them enough was enough.
He was met with denial and hostility. One council member only wanted to deflect the issues by asking "do you look into other towns like this?" The answer being "yes" of course, but that's not the point. Lady, you work for Allentown City. We are in Allentown. The same Allentown that is under FBI investigation- not the other towns.... but I digress. Severin handled it perfectly and keeps the topic on point. He ends by asking publicly how much money has been spent on police misconduct lawsuits. The council responded by saying we must take our issues to the police department's "Professional Standards Division." They even refused to watch the video.
That was not the end of the night though. As Severin was leavings he was followed into the hallway by known police supporters. One of the supporters had spoke to the Council before Severin. She asked (FYI: this is not an exaggeration) for permission to write citizen tickets for bad manners and littering in city parks.
This husband-wife duo were visibly upset and arguing loud enough that Severin and Rick could hear them. The woman wanted to confront Severin, while the man was trying to convince her not to. Severin and Rick decided to try to reason with them. Rick tells them "you can talk to us you don't have to be afraid." The woman looking very angry says, "why don't you go back to where you came from!?"
Severin takes several minutes to calmly and rationally try to explain his position to them. The man seems to be more able to hold a rational conversation than the woman. She was so angry, it was visible. When he sees that he was not going to be able to get anywhere with them, Severin replied, "I'm sorry we can not see eye-to-eye on this. I wish you well."
At that point, Severin got into his car and left. After this night, a few things are clear:
#1) Allentown Council members are complicit in the Police force issues.
#2) Allentown's issues go far beyond a mayor under investigation by the FBI.
And last, but not least of all,
#3) We are here in Allentown to stay.
To see the entire playlist of our encounters in Allentown click HERE.
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