Sunday August 18, 2019
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Las Vegas
3616 East Lake Mead Blvd 89115
Families United for Justice / Forced Trajectory Project
Police Use of Force: The Nevada Community Speaks
My name is Brandon Summers.
I’m a Las Vegas native, violinist, street performer, substitute teacher for CCSD; and apparently a troublemaker. I’ve been ticketed or arrested 6 times by metro [LVMPD] for street performing.
I never intended to be a full-time violinist… and definitely not street performer or activist. BUT LIFE is funny, and it rarely goes the way we planned it.
I had the privilege of having parents who could afford music lessons, so I began private instruction at the age of 6. My mother expected that I work hard at my instrument, but not to become a virtuoso. She was more interested in maximizing my opportunities for college scholarships.
And I did eventually get a scholarship— but it was for mathematics. Music was always informative in my life, but it was secondary to academics. When I started struggling academically and with depression, I began to lean on music more and more.
I started street performing full time in 2010. And those were some good days— the best days of my twenties. The freedom of sharing my talent with complete strangers was therapeutic— and I certainly needed it to cope with depression and being a college dropout.
Unfortunately, my troubles with the police began at this time too. Clark County and Metro started cracking down on performers, water vendors, and the homeless; and I found myself and others entangled in the criminal justice system.
While playing music for tips is not considered panhandling or solicitation, Clark County politicians found a way to solve the casinos’ problem. So Metro began ticketing performers for “obstruction of sidewalk”. AND that’s why I have 6 tickets— 2 of them being arrests.
On September 30 of last year I had my cell phone and violin impounded in retaliation for recording an officer. The officer stopped me on a bridge for obstruction and then went on to harass an alleged water vendor. You may have seen this guy on social media recently— because the video of him being placed in a chokehold went viral— anyway, we were both arrested that day and I didn’t get my stuff back for 3 months. Eventually, both of our cases were dropped.
While it would be easy to focus in on that individual officer’s actions, we have to stay focused on the bigger issue. Sergeant Cirkosz was given that power, that authority, and those orders by LVMPD. LVMPD’s activities on The Strip are disproportionately influenced by casinos— which ironically, I’ve played gigs inside of most of them.
But the expulsion of street performers and free speech on The Strip has been a collaboration — not a conspiracy— by Metro, Clark County, the casinos, The DA’s office, and the courts.
I would love to talk about what it took and how long it took to get the arresting officer’s bodycam, but I’ll have to save that story for another day.
Again, I’m Brandon.
Thank you for your time. Peace.
Families United 4 Justice / Forced Trajectory Project
In direct response to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police’s Use of Force panel hosted at the Mob Museum back in July 2018 where they claimed to be the national model for police reform, Families United 4 Justice in collaboration with Forced Trajectory Project, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Las Vegas, Nevada Cop Block, ACAB Radio, Minister Stretch Sanders, PLAN Action Fund, Mass Liberation Project, and others, will be hosting a 1/2 day of public testimonies from the Nevada community, on what they have experienced in regards to police abuse, brutality, violence, corruption and homicide.
Community members who are police abuse survivors and police homicide survivors will have time to share their stories, narratives and experiences of what has happened in their interactions with the police.
LVMPD continuously touts their own horn about their reform process and transparency, using public relations strategies to cover up their messy trail of violence and corruption on Communities of Color and working class communities, while not allowing the community to challenge them during their very controlled “public” hearings and panels. The rest of Nevada police departments are not innocent either; they hide easily away from the spotlight on LVMPD.
We will be inviting all elected officials to come and listen to the Nevada community. Please help spread the word.
At 5PM, The LIT Grille will be providing dinner. Meals are an average of $6-$12 – please come prepared. The event is FREE! Donations are welcome to support Families United 4 Justice – Las Vegas/Southwest & Forced Trajectory Project for their continued service to families impacted by police homicide and police brutality survivors.
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