Monday, April 30, 2012

The Initiative Announces POWER UP TOUR

The last couple entries on this blog have been about the arrest of Bee Sting, currently in jail for pulling a shotgun on a motorcyclist outside of Flint, Michigan. The entry previous to this is an account by his team mate, Justicar.

Although Bee Sting has yet to go to trial, available evidence (Facebook photos, news reports, team mate's eyewitness account) suggests that this was about an ounce away from being the very worst RLSH scenario. Bee Sting could have easily shot himself, the person he was fighting (who, unless proved otherwise, was only in violation of a noise ordinance), or accidentally shot a bystander or responding officer instead of the empty trailer he hit when the shotgun went off. 

The big question now is...what happens next?

One group that has been working on a solution to incidents like this is the Initiative, a group that has chapters in NYC, Virginia, and North and South California. I recently interviewed one of the group's founders, Zero, about the recent events and the Initiative's plans for the Power Up Tour. He explained the ins and outs of the program and how it is designed to help us from reading about explosive stories like this in the future. 

Tea Krulos: Zero, we've had a couple of troubling incidents over the past couple of months that have painted a pretty negative portrait of the community watchdog. The first is a well known case, nationally-- George Zimmerman shooting an unarmed youth named Trayvon Martin after following him for "looking suspicious." 

And then, and this is closer to home for RLSH and X-ALTS-- we had the case of Bee Sting confronting a motorcyclist with a loaded shotgun, reportedly over a noise issue.

How have these incidents affected what you do and what other people with similar goals do?

Well, as of right now I'd say they really haven't, but bear in mind that this Bee Sting incident just happened a few days ago and so far it's remained pretty low profile on the news. I don't expect that to last very long. Actually, I personally believe it's only a matter of time until someone of note connects the two incidents together and someone raises a campaign against any kind of citizen self-empowerment. 

That's really sad, and more than a little alarming in a world where a lot of people are expressing a distrust in their government, and having that distrust backed up by cases of excessive use of force, wrongful death and just a callous disregard for humanity in some law enforcement.

That said, I don't really believe in absolutes. There are tons of good cops and LEO's out there. I've met quite a few. Generalization has and always will be a huge enemy of compassion, and even worse for progression as a society.

I believe that our system is failing and we're all getting hit with the fallout. I also believe that you're going to hear a lot of negative reports before you hear positive ones. That's just how the news works. We've tried to stay positive, and work on positive goals. 

Honestly, we're not worried. No one is ever going to stop us from helping and protecting people. 

Have you ever felt like, hey, this is all too crazy, I should just quit and leave it up to the cops/ law enforcement? 

Sure, all the time. There's always that part of you that wishes you could just live your life and rely on someone else for protection; but then you see something happening right in front of you, and you can't turn away. You have to do something. And then you do the math and realize it's happening all over. 

Stuff like that, you can't UNsee. 

After a few times of successfully diffusing a conflict that might have blown up into something much larger, you develop a taste for it. Wearing a badge, being under someones thumb and enforcing someone else's politics upon people, that was never for us. Call it grassroots. I believe that a safe society is one where all are capable of watching out for each other. I don't believe that's a polarizing issue, really. 

Protecting our fellow human beings is all we want to do. That and finding new and innovative ways to help people. I think we are approaching a New Renaissance of Necessity; Creativity, Compassion, and Action. Lines are about to be crossed, definitions blurred, boundaries demolished. 

Everyone keeps saying the future is bleak, but I say it's an exciting time to be alive.

The Initiative is announcing the 2012 Power Up Tour. Can you give us a brief overview of what the goals of the tour are and how it will be carried out?

The POWER UP TOUR 2012 is an Initiative Collective nationwide project to bring not only empowerment, proper training, and confidence to Neighborhood Watch and Block Guardians, but also accountability and transparency. After the arrest of Bee Sting, Phoenix Jones and of course the ever-present and looming implications of the Trayvon Martin case, we feel that it's time to bring the power back where it belongs: The People. 

We will be launching a fully functional website on June 1st, in tandem with a physical tour in which we contact each and every PD Community Affairs office and established Block Watch in our respective cities and organize meetings. These meetings will introduce the site, give a tutorial, and drop off our PowerPack… a brief list of solid, low cost resources for initial training and resources to get people started, or to give them momentum to continue their efforts to protect their loved ones and their neighborhoods responsibly. 

From there, they can use the website to report crime anonymously, track crime patterns, build block watches, trade skill training between professionals and communicate with each other and their precinct's Community Affairs offices. In addition, we will be building strong communication and trust between not only ourselves and the community, but as we move from neighborhood to neighborhood, the community itself. As they teach and learn from each other, they will build confidence in themselves and their skills in practical self defense, medical assistance, legalities and most importantly for this kind of work, non-violent communications. 

And as they learn, so will the Initiative. We all teach, we all learn, we all prosper. 

And how will this help prevent incidents like the one with Bee Sting, George Zimmerman, or other RLSH or neighborhood watch group who have been arrested or made bad decisions? 

I think the problem with a lot of issues like these is not enough focus on non-violent conflict resolution techniques. In fact, a lot of people scoff at the idea because they have never seen just how effective these techniques can be. 

Going at an argument with personal attacks, baseless commands or just plain rudeness is like taking a jackhammer to build an ice sculpture. The only way to GET someone to understand is to put aside your ego and try a little understanding yourself. 

People who act erratic or irritate you are most often coming from a place of pain. If you contribute to their defenses by acting offensive, you feed a fire. You don't put one out. 

With a program like the Power Up Tour, we're going to try to put into place a skill trade system which will allow people to train each other in their respective fields, as well as keep people up to date with free or low-cost training resources. This method of facilitating free training will lead to stronger skill sets, which will give people a better grasp on actual technique and eliminate the overcompensation that often happens with the undertrained and overzealous. 

There are many facets and peripheral goals of the Power-Up Tour, but the skill trade is one of my favorites. Just the idea of "trade anything" always leaves me excited, and I hope that it gets people thinking about the possibility of living outside the box even further. 

At it's base, what we're doing here is creating a central communications hub, a skill trade system, and an quantifiable recruiting pool. Then we're physically going from block to block to establish a real-time, face to face connection with PEOPLE. This is something that is important, as it's really easy to forget that there are a whole lot of people behind all of those little avatars on the internet. We need to re-connect. 

Again, as with any project the Initiative does, we wouldn't be presumptuous enough to think that this is THE solution to save the world… It's just us putting what we know to work to get something started. If this whole thing crashes and burns, but someone ends up making a better resource because of it, we will have done our part. That's all I want. 

How can people get involved with this project if they want to participate?

Even "Superman" couldn't be everywhere at once. But do you know who can? ...EveryONE.

Literally EVERYONE can get involved in this project. Check out the site, make a profile, find a block watch near you. List your skills, certifications, anything legal you want to teach or learn to make a stronger and safer community. 

The skill trade sections are Fitness, Conflict Resolution, Legal, Medical, Self-Defense, Miscellaneous Professional and Safety Resources. 

In addition, if people really believe in this and want to go the extra mile, they can always grab the PowerPack and go talk to Community Affairs and block watches to introduce them to the site and how it allows for better communication. No one has to put in any money, or subscribe to anything. There is no allegiance to organizations, no papers to sign, no promises to keep. 

It's just a social contract and people working with people, that's all. 

The REALLY sweet thing is how this opens the doors to something that has been going on in professional circles for a long time, but never really utilized on a game-changing level; Skill trade can get people better jobs, and strengthen us as a people overall, regardless of it's connection to block watches. 

Not only can you, say, trade some training in a skill you have to get better at self defense, you can also tap into the "Pro Skills Misc" section to pick up some skills to trade for other skills. The possibilities are endless, all working towards making us stronger as a people, and more confident in our private lives. 

Anything else you want to say to anyone reading this about these crazy times we live in?

Yeah. Just breathe. We will make it through together. 

Trust Yourself.


  1. Hey... chapters in South AND NORTH California.


  2. I think that the RLSH/X-Alt community need to hold some accountability for the actions of Bee Sting. Treating him like a "bad apple" overlooks one of the biggest problems underlying the ideologies that make RLSH-ing thinkable in the first place. I strongly suggest that the people who read this blog check out Daniel Goldstein's The Spectacular City. TTFN

  3. Several prominent members of the "community" had already spoken to BS about his use of a shotgun on patrols WELL before this event took place. In the end, his choice was to ignore all advice given him and carry it anyway, and this where it got him.

    With the POWER UP Tour, we are attempting to bring accountability to any watch groups who hope to take community policing to a new, and respectable, level.

  4. the reverend citizen crusaderJune 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    well written and well spoken by Zero . impressive