In 2011, I was quite active blogging about the failings of public education system and traditional schooling, the admissions game to get into colleges and grad programs, and the many benefits of alternative education, homeschooling and unschooling. While I continued to work with clients on an individual basis over the past two years, to teach at an alternative school, Skybridge Academy (formerly Bronze Doors Academy), and to accept interviews and speak at conferences, I stepped back from blogging. It wasn’t a decision to stop blogging so much as it was something that fell off of my priority list because of what happened to me on New Year’s Day, 2012.
After leaving a New Year’s party that morning, serving as a designated driver, driving my friend Ben to his home in East Austin, I decided to refuel the truck at the nearest gas station. I turned into a 7-11 near downtown Austin. Between the gas pump we stopped at and the road was a DUI stop by two Austin Police Department cops. We observed the officer administering the field sobriety test, Officer Patrick Oborski, at one point walk to the front of the vehicle and lean into the car as if he were searching for something or saying something to the female passenger, after which he returned to the rear of the car to continue the field sobriety test.
Then, I saw a dark-haired police officer, Officer Robert Snider, go up to the passenger side door and begin talking to the passenger. The police officer opened the door, and continued talking to the woman.
I had just finished refueling the truck and Ben and I were in the process of getting in the truck to drive away when we heard the passenger seat screaming. We saw the woman being yanked violently out of the car and taken to the ground by Snider. Oborski then ran up to join in on the assault on the woman. I took out my Blackberry to try to take pictures of the abuse, as did Ben. We saw the cops pulling the girl’s arms behind her, locked straight out at an unnatural angle toward the sky, and lifting her to her feet by her arms in what looked like an excruciatingly painful manner. The woman, crying, saw us and begged us to film the episode, so I continued to take pictures and began shouting at the cops asking why they were abusing the woman and telling them to stop abusing her. She was then escorted past us toward the far cruiser.
Halfway between myself and the cruiser that the victim was being escorted to, Oborski turned and began walking aggressively toward me. At that point, I took one final picture of Oborski with his hands in front of him.
Oborski demanded to know who I thought I was and I told him that I was doing nothing wrong and that I was allowed to take photos. He kept advancing toward me, getting in my face, and asking me questions. Every time he elevated his voice, I reciprocated. I backed up, and reiterated to him that I was within my rights several times, after which he elevated the situation by assaulting me, forcefully pushing me in the upper chest area. I immediately threw up my arms to indicate that I was not a threat, and began to yell “why are you touching me” and “what are you touching me for.” Oborski pushed me until I was trapped between him and the truck. He then placed both hands on my upper chest and neck area and applied consistent pressure, forcing me to lean back at a 45% angle over the bed of the truck, at which point I told him to “get out of my face.” He then chuckled, and claimed that I spit on him. Then, he grabbed my arm to try to do a takedown move and I asked him “what the f*** are you doing”, and then when he put me in a choke hold, I asked him at least twice more, “what are you doing?” Fearing for my personal safety, having seen what they previously did to the female victim, I kept my arms stiff and kept my balance, but allowed him to take me to the ground by falling on my side
Snider then ran up and put my left arm in an arm lock, and began to apply pressure to the elbow as if he were trying to dislocate it. I immediately asked Snider if he was trying to break or dislocate my arm. One of the cops said they were going to taze me, at which point I told them not to and threw my hands in the small of my back. On the ground I continued to ask why I was being arrested and Oborski replied with a lie, saying I spit in his face.
I was then transported to the “BAT” mobile to be administered a breathalyzer test, even though I had not been drinking and I was never pulled over by the police. In the vehicle when I was told to stand up and began to receive instructions on the breathalyzer test, in a state of surprise, I asked if they were just trying to find a reason to arrest me. I was told that I was drinking and driving, at which point I said, “I wasn’t driving, I mean drinking!” The response I got at that point was ridicule in that I couldn’t even keep my story straight. I then said I’d definitely blow into the breathalyzer because I knew I was sober and I wanted to see the 0.000 score. After two long sustained blows, I demanded to know what I blew. The technician, looking very confused, claimed that I was the “first one to ever break the breathalyzer machine”, and that I “blew too hard.” I began to laugh and tell them what a joke the entire affair was. At that point Oborski came in the vehicle and the technician looked at him confused, and asked if I was a DUI suspect. Oborski stuttered and stammered out a “no, something else.” The technician then asked me what I was in there for, and I told him that I was in there because I saw officers abusing a woman and I began to take pictures and ask questions. At that point Oborski came over and grabbed me and pulled me out of the truck.
Oborski escorted me to the transport truck, and tried to justify his actions by telling me that I didn’t have all the details of the stop and I should not have gotten myself involved. I told him I saw that the woman had committed no crime and presented no threat, and I told him I knew what abuse was. Oborski then got heated and told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that I shouldn’t get in the way of cops, that I “f***** with the wrong cop” and I was going to “f****** pay” for my actions.
By the time I arrived at the booking facility I still had no idea what I was going to be charged with, since I didn’t break any law. Eventually, a deputy who was taking inventory of my possessions told me that I was in there for a felony charge of harassing a public official and a misdemeanor of resisting arrest.
When I was released from jail that evening, Ben told me that there were witnesses; however, the police prevented him from speaking to them. Fearing that I would be convicted for a felony crime I didn’t commit, I decided to reach out to the public to convince the witnesses to step forward. Immediately, three witnesses came forward, and all three told me that the cops assaulted me and that they knew I did not spit on the cop. Two were in the parking lot, and had a good view of the incident. Another was across the street and recorded the incident on his cell phone. With video, I went to the media to break the story in hopes that the evidence against the police would force them to dismiss my case. Because of the video, the circumstances of the arrest, because I was not black or Hispanic, because I had never been arrested before, and because of my resume which includes graduation from West Point and Stanford, the media ran my story.
In the aftermath of the event, I was subject to lies from the Austin Police Department which produced numerous claims and internet postings characterizing me in a negative light, as a criminal, cop hater, trouble maker, provocateur and/or fame seeker.
The Austin Police Department deliberately and maliciously filed charges against me despite zero evidence that I had broken any laws, and despite overwhelming evidence of criminal acts and professional misconduct on the behalf of Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider and their Chain of Command. They have deliberately and maliciously withheld video and audio evidence from the public to paint me in a negative light and to cover for the crimes and misconduct of their officers.
The Internal Affairs Division also participated in the cover-up of this case. They had access to their own audio and video evidence, the 7-11 surveillance video, as well as numerous witness testimonies that prove undeniably that Patrick Oborski and Robert Snider committed criminal acts and maliciously filed false charges against multiple innocent victims on New Year’s Day. They did not have a single witness to corroborate Oborski’s version of events, not even Snider. Their written report was rife with contradictions and distortions. Further, they failed to interview the witness who had the best view of the entire episode, who was unaffiliated with the police, the victims, my friend or me. However, a local television news station had time to interview him.
In the months that followed my arrest I was able to rally a lot of people to support me, to include those who paid for legal representation for the victims (my lawyer, Joe James Sawyer represents me pro bono). A supporter launched the Free Antonio Buehler facebook page, supporters held two protest rallies and people started writing about my case on various blogs. With support from a wide swath of society, to include those in various socio-economic classes, ethnic groups and political ideologies, I decided to join with other local activists (namely John Bush, Harold Gray and Kaja Tretjak) to launch the Peaceful Streets Project to change the culture of society in a non-political and non-violent manner so that fewer people would be victimized by the police moving forward.
In the year that followed the launch of the Peaceful Streets Project, we hosted over a dozen Know Your Rights trainings, shared scores of stories of police abuse on our YouTube channel, engaged in over 100 cop watches, and held a Police Accountability Summit that allowed us to give out 100 video cameras to people in need so they could document interactions with the police. We were named the Grassroots Movement of the year by the Austin Chronicle and I was named the Activist of the Year by the Austin Chronicle and Texans for Accountable Government.
Unfortunately, I was also arrested a few more times. I have twice been arrested for Interference with Public Duties (Class C Misdemeanor) because I was filming police; in one instance I didn’t move back from the arrest taking place when ordered to, and in the other I didn’t move toward the arrest taking place when ordered to. I have also been arrested for Criminal Mischief (Class B Misdemeanor) for affixing a Peaceful Streets Sticker to the back of a stop sign (a common practice in Austin). My New Year’s Day charges were all no-billed by the grand jury that finally convened 15 months after the incident, and replaced with one charge of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order (Class C Misdemeanor). My Interference with Public Duties charges were also no-billed by the grand jury and replaced with two more Failure to Obey charges, and they added one more Interference with Public Duties charge for an incident in which I was not arrested where I was filming an undercover cop.
The Peaceful Streets Project has since become a much stronger organization that is now going national. We have fifteen chapters across the country in cities such as Houston, Dallas, New York, Manchester NH and Sandusky OH, and we may have 50 by the end of the year. On August 17th we had our 2nd Annual Police Accountability Summit in Austin which drew over 500 people. And although I have received veiled and explicit threats of violence from the police and their supporters over the past year, to include a disturbing warning of violence from Wayne Vincent, the president of the Austin Police Association, I believe that we are having considerable success in our mission to change culture, and I will keep pushing forward.
With the Peaceful Streets Project rolling, I am ready to jump back into the fight to promote alternative education and to attack failed schooling institutions that destroy the lives of millions of children each year. I am currently studying for my second Master’s degree at Harvard University, and I will be bringing forth more regular posts that not only rail against the system, but that will share much of the research that I will be engaged in this year. I will also tie together some of my thoughts about how the police state and the institution of public education are tied together and reinforce one another. I hope you stick around for what will be an exciting year!!!