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Jul. 2 2010 - 12:50 pm | 6,006 views | 0 recommendations | 22 comments

Marijuana Activist Barry Cooper Arrested at Texas State Capitol

Update (below): Barry Cooper is free on $1,000 bond; (in comments) authorities not treating him as suspect in capitol bomb threat

Marijuana activist Barry Cooper turned himself in to authorities Friday morning … and he did it with an expected showman’s flare.

I was notified of his plans last night, but didn’t think he’d actually go this far.

We met at 9 a.m. inside the Starbucks on Congress Ave. in downtown Austin. The first thing I noticed was Barry’s unusual garb. On his forehead, a two word message: “JURY NULLIFICATION”; across his chest in marker ink, a rallying cry: “CONSTITUTIONAL OBEDIENCE”.

After a few minutes of summary and preparation, Cooper, his wife, a cameraman with the local Copwatch chapter and assorted members of the press began making their way down the street toward the state capitol building.

Barry lit a cigarette and took his time to smoke it.

Barry Cooper, preparing for his arrest. Photo by Stephen C. Webster

Walking onto the capitol lawn, I noticed an unusual media presence. That’s when we learned the grounds had been shut down since much earlier in the morning due to a bomb threat.

As it would happen, that threat ensured a media circus for Cooper’s arrest. With cameras already in-hand, television reporters swarmed around Barry.

I’m going to say that Cooper’s arrest and the alert were not correlated, but I don’t know that for sure. Barry, Candi and their attorney denied any prior knowledge of the situation and appeared surprised when told about the threat. I believe it was purely fortuitous coincidence, and I don’t think they would do something so foolish like call in a bomb threat to maximize media exposure. They’re in enough trouble already and have kids to worry about.

In spite of the heightened alert, Barry and the media walked right up to the capitol building. Police reopened grounds about 30 minutes later, stating that no suspicious devices were found.

Standing not 20 feet from state troopers, Cooper took a deep breath, pulled out his notes and began to speak.

“I’m here today to turn myself in because I have a warrant for my arrest from the Texas Rangers for a sting that KopBusters did in Odessa, Texas, that successfully released Yolanda Madden from an eight year federal prison sentence. I was explaining to everybody on the walk up here that it feels bad that I only gotta go to jail for one day. I have this kinda support: my lawyer here, and my wife. But Raymond Madden had to walk his daughter this same way to do eight years in prison. My good friend Marc Emery in Canada, two months ago just had to turn his self in for selling marijuana seeds. He turned himself over to the United States government and he’s doing five years in prison.

“It feels horrible to go to jail, and it’s still difficult for me to understand how and why we keep torturing our citizens in the U.S. for non-violent crimes. They say in the Middle East that if you steal something they cut your hand off, and we call that cruel and unusual. We can walk into our prisons right now and line our non-violent prisoners up, that are doing five years, ten years, 99 years, life, for just possessing a substance — and ask them: What would you rather do, continue serving your sentence or we cut your hand off? They will line up at the chopping block and gladly give their hand to get out of those torturous prisons for something that should not be against the law.”

Barry Cooper on his way to be arrested. Photo by Stephen C. Webster

Cooper said his main reason for pulling the media stunt was to raise awareness of jury nullification, a generations-old, rarely used legal tactic available to citizens on a jury who have no sympathy for the government’s argument. Even if the defendant is guilty of the crime with which they are accused, a jury may yet nullify that law as it applies to that individual if they consider it to be immoral.

A recent example of nullification would be the acquittal of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who clearly violated laws meant to prevent assisted suicide but was let off by a jury who found the laws to be repugnant and not correctly applied.

Barry continued:

“Americans need to use a very powerful weapon: We’re calling on America to start using what’s called jury nullification [...] when members of a jury vote not guilty, even though the accused clearly broke the law. Juries do this when they believe the law itself is morally wrong or is being unfairly applied. So if you get on a jury and even though you know that person is guilty, if you don’t agree with that law and it bothers your conscience, you can vote not guilty and release that citizen. As a jury member, you have more authority than the judge. That’s the final process in our judicial system, is a jury trial, because it gives the vote back to the citizen.

“Although jury nullification is still legal and still constitutional, most judges and public school teachers lie to the people and tell them they don’t have this right. The jury is made up of we the people. The jury is the only true check on government power. [...] It is the most important right we have as a citizen. [...] Citizens of America, get into juries. On all non-violent drug crimes, vote not guilty and release your citizens.”

He concluded with a signature sign-off: “Peace, love and Never Get Busted.”

Barry then approached officers standing in front of the capitol and informed them of a warrant for his arrest. A few moments later, they ushered him away in handcuffs.

Candi Cooper stands aside as her husband is arrested. Photo by Stephen C. Webster

“I’m sorry and sad that humans still treat people like this,” Cooper said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Barry’s wife Candi was arrested earlier in the week outside the family’s home in south Austin after the Texas Rangers tricked her to come outside by claiming her vehicle had been damaged and insurance information would have to be exchanged. The charge stemmed from a sting they pulled on the Odessa Police Department in Dec. 2008, in which they baited officers to raid a phony marijuana grow operation.

Police charged Barry and Candi with Making a False Report to a Peace Officer, a Class B misdemeanor. It is the same charge leveled separately by Williamson County, which raided their former home just north of Austin after Cooper claimed to have caught an officer in Liberty Hill stealing what he’d been tricked to think was drug money.

Barry in cuffs, but still smiling. Photo by Stephen C. Webster

Shortly after arriving home, I got a call from an unknown number. It was Barry, who decided to use his free phone call to contact me. Speaking from the Travis County jail, Cooper said …

I’m booked into jail. They said I should see a magistrate in a couple hours to set the bond. Odessa could hold me here for 10 days, but they told Candi that as well and that didn’t happen. They’re treating me very good in here. This place is very depressing and all the prisoners I see are depressed. I’m just talking to them and letting them know it’ll be okay. Everybody has treated me very polite and very nice. Tell Candi I love her and that everything is going to be fine.

Here’s a video of the arrest, shot and edited by yours truly …

The whole weird affair was also broadcast live via UStream, which archived the improperly formatted clip.

Update, 6:40 p.m.

Candi just confirmed that Barry has posted bond, which was set at $1,000. Oddly enough, Candi’s bond was set at $2,00 for the same alleged offense, with her arrest coming even before her husband’s.

It was possible that authorities could have kept Cooper for up to 10 days, but his attorneys believed that would not happen, according to Candi.

An earlier version of this update speculated that Cooper could have spent the night in Travis County, but that does not appear likely any longer.

I’d further like to add, upon further recollection and examination, Barry seemed kinda stoned in that video, but he’s told me repeatedly that he refuses to smoke marijuana after what happened with the Williamson County raid. I understand Barry’s appearance was also part of the overall “statement” he was making (Candi’s word), but I didn’t really even think to ask why exactly he didn’t go into this morning’s theatrics with a suit on.

I think I’ll ask about both these items when he gets out, which could be any time now.

Update, 10:45 p.m.

I’ve just spoken with Barry. He is free at this hour and headed somewhere for Margaritas.

When I confronted him about his appearance and asked if he had ingested any narcotics before his arrest, Cooper insisted the weary expression evident in the YouTube clip above was that of exhaustion and not intoxication.

“I’d been up for almost a couple days, man; didn’t really sleep a whole lot after the Rangers arrested Candi,” he said. “That was purely exhaustion, I do not smoke marijuana anymore, not after what Williamson County did to us.”

He added that his appearance — dreadlocks, t-shirt, jeans and tattoos displayed, was in fact intentional, and that his wife had the “suit talk” with him “a million times.”

“I just wanted to show that I’m pretty much like anyone else: an American citizen who is not violent and enjoys being free.”

Barry Cooper is “at large” once again.


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  1. collapse expand

    Setting up the cops was one thing, calling in a bomb threat to get media hype another. Somebody in the crew had to make the bomb threat as the timing was way to coincidental. That kind of media coverage could hurt Barry. You can bet that will be investigated.

    • collapse expand

      I totally thought the same thing. So did reporters on the scene. Way too much coincidence. Then again, Paris Hilton got hit with a pot charge on the same day as Cooper’s arrest. Coincidence as well?

      It was investigated. Police identified the public phone that placed the threatening call, then looked at security footage from the area and said they found the guy who dialed. While an image was shown, their subject was not identified on the news — but authorities specifically stated that Cooper was not a suspect.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      The reason that these events happened so “coincidentally” is that Barry is an extraordinary and very special person. His battle is about truth and comes from a place of passion and drive more powerful than most can understand. The power of the universe is behind him. When you are fulfilling your destiny and changing the world, as he is, many seemingly unlikely things can and will happen to help you. Trust.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Cool story. Or he just had somebody dial the threat in. Given his history of phoning in false reports it seems very likely he would be capable of this. Time will tell, the police have no idea who did or didn’t it until they speak to the individual to dialed it in.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Stupid thought.. why keep the public away? for a cause one believes in? I believe the call was from someone who did not want Cooper to be heard from passing by visitors coming to visit the capital yet their efforts FAILED !

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      I am Barry Cooper. First, I would NEVER stoop to violent tactics such as calling in a bomb threat to get press. Second, I would help protect my capitol from any person or persons trying to harm it. Third, I don’t need to call in bomb threats to get media. According to a media analyst, I have had more media than any activist EVER! I’ve done over 300 Radio and T.V. interviews. Was featured in Maxim Magazine. Made the front cover of Cannabis Culture and Texas Observer. The AP picked up my story 3 times and sent it all over the world. I’ve been interviewed on FOX, CNN, MSNBC and many other channels. My story has went viral on the Internet many times. I did all of this without ever calling in a bomb threat. Also, I already had media with me when we approached the capitol and learned of the bomb threat. I didn’t need any other media. Stephen Webster with TrueSlant and Mike with the Texas Observer and several independent journalist were with us because I called them the night before and invited them along… not because I called in a bomb threat. To all of our fans…Candi and thank you for realizing who we really are. Peace, Love and NeverGetBusted.

      Peace,

      Barry Cooper
      KopBusters
      NeverGetBusted

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    “Paris Hilton got hit with a pot charge on the same day as Cooper’s arrest. Coincidence as well?”

    So completely irrelevant. Whats relevant is that the person said the bomb was going to off at 9 am precisely the time Barry was to do this doo hickey. Of course hes not going to call in the bomb threat himself you know hes not that stupid Stephen. They didn’t say he wasn’t a suspect, just that he was not the one that physically dialed it in. This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  3. collapse expand

    As far as I’ve seen police haven’t commented on the Barry Cooper aspect….but you can be sure they are investigating it.

  4. collapse expand

    Maybe it was someone who knew Barry was going to turn himself in and did it for him unbeknownst to Barry. I’m sure a lot of people are pulling for Barry and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if someone decided to lend a special hand.

    • collapse expand

      It was also the second bomb threat in eight days, which leads me to think it was more fortuitous than suspicious … And of course Cooper could have had someone close to him do that, but if he’s successfully tied to Barry it’s game over. Then again, it’s also possible that police are listening to Cooper’s phones and may have had an informant dial it in. Cooper did say on the phone (to me) multiple times that he’d be turning himself in at 9 a.m., which is the exact time the fictional “bombs” were due to go off at the capitol.

      I was supposed to meet Cooper at 8:30 a.m. Turned out, Barry was late by a good 20 minutes, then took another 20 or so at the Starbucks to mentally prepare. By the time we got to the capitol building it was past 9 a.m., so the situation had considerably cooled.

      Bottom line: I have no idea about that bomb threat, but officials have said that Barry is not a suspect. If there’s any update on that, you can be sure I’ll bring it full throttle.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Quit harassing Barry & his family. If any crime has been committed, it was by that female officer in the video. No one should have to witness her fat lumpy ass. THAT should be a crime.

  6. collapse expand

    Why in the world would he risk calling in a bomb threat?(incredible stupid thought) Cooper would had benefited more with the public around to draw attention so they would hear what he had to say.

    • collapse expand

      I’m not surprised many are incapable of believing it was a coincidence. Most people expect the worst out of everyone and pass judgment based directly on what truly lies within themselves. If you are a dishonest person you come to expect dishonesty. Or if you feel people are for the most part dishonest than I’m certain your life is full of dishonest people. It would be hard to understand a life full of ‘fortunate coincidences’ unless you have experienced it because you have realized that what you see in this world is exactly what you get. Barry quit smoking marijuana after a SWAT style raid had a shotgun pointed at his 12 year-old daughter. Be as suspicious as you want, all of you, but believe it or not there are still good people in the world, and Barry is one of them- and a greater power had a hand in more people hearing his story. It only serves the police better that you believe he is otherwise simply because he stands up for an unpopular viewpoint. It only means they are doing a great job smearing his name. Thankfully for all of involved, none of your suspicions, nor those of any on earth, layman or law, can ever take away what happened. So be as suspicious as you would like.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    if it took a bomb threat to get more attention, so be it..i really hope at least one of the talking heads do something with this… Barry and Candi are doing this for all of us and the least ya’all can do is bug them to get this on the air…

  8. collapse expand

    To Mr. Barry Cooper well I see this man is real about what he is doing and I’ve seen his dvd and the man has a point that the system don’t see, yea why should man and women be lock up because of what GOD put here on this planet,in the movie Friday Smoky was right weed is from the earth and it was a true statement but if GOD didn’t want it here it never would have been here, now I here troopers can pull over big trucks and drug test you on the spot even if you have not been in a wreck and it’s gonna cause problems with the system and with the law’s on this planet and it will go all the way to the Supreme court if the right person comes along and challenge it, so to Mr. Cooper keep on fighting and GOD speed into the future till that day comes

    BLACXKCOBRA//PRINCE OF THA UNITED STATES

  9. collapse expand

    I am Barry Cooper. First, I would NEVER stoop to violent tactics such as calling in a bomb threat to get press. Second, I would help protect my capitol from any person or persons trying to harm it. Third, I don’t need to call in bomb threats to get media. According to a media analyst, I have had more media than any activist EVER! I’ve done over 300 Radio and T.V. interviews. Was featured in Maxim Magazine. Made the front cover of Cannabis Culture and Texas Observer. The AP picked up my story 3 times and sent it all over the world. I’ve been interviewed on FOX, CNN, MSNBC and many other channels. My story has went viral on the Internet many times. I did all of this without ever calling in a bomb threat. Also, I already had media with me when we approached the capitol and learned of the bomb threat. I didn’t need any other media. Stephen Webster with TrueSlant and Mike with the Texas Observer and several independent journalist were with us because I called them the night before and invited them along… not because I called in a bomb threat. To all of our fans…Candi and thank you for realizing who we really are. Peace, Love and NeverGetBusted.

    Peace,

    Barry Cooper
    KopBusters
    NeverGetBusted

  10. collapse expand

    I say, do whatever you have to do to get people to listen. Our rights are being violated on a daily basis, and we just let it keep on happening. At least Barry is trying and willing to help those that WON’T. I say “Go Barry” and hopefully our goverment will snap and realize, “hey we should use some common sence.

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    About Me

    My name is Stephen. I am a News Junkie and an assistant editor at RawStory.com. My work has appeared in publications both printed and online, including The Dallas Business Journal, the cover of Fort Worth Weekly and in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, Austin Monthly, Envy Magazine and others. I also covered the rebirth of the U.S. peace movement first-hand for The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, starting with the city's first public screening of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' all the way through the end of Cindy Sheehan's stay. I've seen my reporting discussed in publications such as Time, Wired, Reason, The Washington Post, D Magazine, The Guardian UK, Media Matters, ThinkProgress, Alternet, Cannabis Culture, 1-UP, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, G4TV and many others. I am currently open for freelance assignments and actively seeking a literary agent. You can follow me on Twitter @StephenCWebster, or from Facebook.com/StephenCWebster.

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