Freedom Trolls: The Legally Obnoxious Antics of the Activists Behind 'Cop Block'

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"Are you the guys that drove by earlier in that Jeep that said something about cop-dot-org or something like that?" he asks. He had clearly noticed Eyre's truck. "God bless you guys. Fuckin'-a right? We need dudes like you out there," he says. "You keep downtown safe for the people who enjoy my services."

As he's offering the crew discounts on carriage rides, it becomes eminently clear the driver has a fundamental misunderstanding of what Cop Block does and believes in; he's under the impression the guys are a civilian support service for police in the fight against crime downtown.

The group's wanders over in front of the Tilted Kilt and Parker's pitching Cop Block to two female bargoers who, judging by the laughter that can be overheard, seem to be receptive. But then their sober friend joins the conversation. She's not pleased about what she's hearing.

One of the less fanatical cop blockers notices it's taken a turn: "Well, looks like he opened a can of worms over here." He's right. The woman, visibly upset, storms away, dragging her two friends off to wherever they were going the rest of the night.

She crosses the street and turns her head around back towards Parker. "Stop being a fucking victim! Do what you should fucking do as a citizen!"

"Did nobody get that on camera, really?" Parker jokes as he rejoins the group, laughing. "Shit, I should've gotten a cigarette from them before shit went sour."

Onward they go and one block away they find what they're looking for. They spot a Cleveland police officer on foot posted outside the doors of Flannery's. It's nearing 11 p.m. and they're finally going to get their first real "action" of the night, sort of.

"Why are you filming me, dude?" the cop asks one of the Bellevue guys standing a few feet away. "Cut it out." Five or six others start filming him too.

After a few minutes of sarcastic replies on both sides, the cop takes the lead on the questioning. It's been all about cop shootings and citizen deaths until now.

"What do you for a living?" he asks Frost, the guy giving him the most grief so far.

"I, uh, run a home business," Frost says.

"What is it?"

"Electronic cigarettes."

"Electronic cigarettes?" the cop says dismissively.

"Yeah, a new business. But I run Ohio Cop Block too, as a side project."

"You get paid for doing this?"

"No, I'm a volunteer, I just want to help people."

Odolecki jumps in: "We get paid with the satisfaction knowing we're keeping people safe."

"What else? You guys all right now?" the cop says. "You looking for a confrontation here?"

"Oh god no," Frost says. "Don't use your bullying and badge to arrest us, please!"

After a back and forth about traffic tickets and enforcement, the cop steers the conversation back to Frost.

"You're not very bright, are you?" he says.

Frost continues ranting about traffic tickets: "I just think it's wrong to ticket people and force them to pay money for doing nothing wrong."

The conversation follows a similar quick give and take with little substance for a minute or so.

"Are you a little onion skinned? Why are you filming?"

"Why are you bullying us for filming?" Frost asks.

"Okay, well I'm going to go in now, I'm done."

Frost contends that police departments discriminate against future police officers who score too high on IQ tests. "They certainly discriminate if you score too low! Check into that Cop block!"

Frost continues goading the officer: He must be dumb to get a job as a cop.

He's had enough, putting his face directly into Frost's camera, then grabs it for a second before giving it back.

"Don't touch him, that's assault," Parker yells. "You don't have the right!"

The cop gives a light push to Frost's shoulder.

"Going limp, going limp," Frost says quietly to himself, as he makes his knees buckle and falls to the ground the moment he felt the touch. It's a defense mechanism he uses in confrontational situations. Refusing to stand up, he continues filming while sitting on the sidewalk: "What's your badge number, sir? You are ordered by Ohio law to give me your badge number."

"Have a good night guys," the officer says as walks back inside Flannery's. "Have a good night, Cop Block."

Frost, still sitting on the ground with his legs crossed from the "attack," proudly recalls how he stood up to police "bullying" to his comrades' cameras.

"Why you sitting down?" someone asks.

"Because I went limp! I thought he was about to arrest me! I didn't want to escalate his bully-ness. That was a scary situation! That man is a bully!"

The post-confrontation backslapping doesn't last long. Moments later, there's commotion from behind the group in front of Flannery's.

"I think that dude hit that girl!"

The group turns and notices a woman lying motionless on the East Fourth crosswalk. She's unconscious, on her back in the middle of the street. Some bystanders gather around her. Odolecki directs traffic, so the cars trying to turn south down East Fourth avoid the scene. A bystander goes inside Flannery's to get the police officer who had left a minute earlier, but he doesn't come out. Someone calls 911.

A minute later, the flashing lights of a police car pull up to the woman and, of course, some of the Cop Block crew surround the scene and whip out their cameras to start filming the responding officers with the same excitement as before.

Another officer arrives on the scene to help the woman and shines a light into the crowd for just a second.

"Oh god, he shined a light in my eye, that's assault," whines Frost, about five yards away from the motionless woman, without any hint of irony, while rubbing his eyes. "I can't see."

Minutes later, as the woman was loaded into an ambulance and shuffled off to the hospital, Frost continues lamenting the light.

"That was assault on my eyes," he whines to his buddy. "Yeah! Right at me."

As the crowd disperses, Frost and some of his fellow Cop Blockers leave with just what they came for, apparently.

"Who has the video of me being assaulted by the cops?" he asks. The group begins coordinating the dissemination of their videos as they get back into their cars.

"They know we're fucking here now!" shouts Odolecki. "They know it ain't just me now!"

About The Author

Doug Brown

Doug Brown is a staff writer at Scene with a passion for public records laws and investigative reporting. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., he has an M.A. in journalism from the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a B.A. in political science from Hiram College. Prior to joining Scene,...
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