Gastonia DA ignores video evidence of a crime

RALEIGH (Aug. 23) - The Libertarian Party of North Carolina is extremely disappointed with the decision by Gastonia District Attorney Travis Page to abandon further investigation into the actions of Gastonia officers Cierra Brooks and Maurice Taylor surrounding the arrest of Joshua Rohrer on Oct.13, 2021, and the death of his service dog immediately after.

“We are further disappointed by the willingness of the Gastonia City council to consider the D.A.’s decision as final on the matter and the determination by the police department to take no meaningful disciplinary action against either officer,” said state party chair Joe Garcia.

“Nevertheless, we’re undeterred in our determination to see justice done for Joshua Rohrer. We call for the Gastonia City Council to reconsider its willingness to ignore the evidence on video from the day of the arrest,” Garcia said. “We also call for any appropriate authorities to exercise their oversight responsibilities and hold the City of Gastonia to a higher standard than acting as its own judge and jury.”

In choosing to ignore the clear video evidence from the body camera footage and instead blindly supporting the arbitrary determination made by the D.A., another public official, the city council acknowledges that the police department operates with no functional oversight.

“We’re dismayed, but unfortunately not surprised that the police department cannot hold itself accountable,” said Garcia. “We’re deeply moved by the compassion and determination of all the people who have rallied to Joshua’s cause from across the political spectrum. We promise you that we will not forget about him, and we invite anyone who believes in justice to stay with us until we see this matter resolved,” Garcia concluded.

View the raw video here.

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Small step toward Justice for Joshua

On Oct. 13, 2021, Gastonia City Police responding to a call of reported panhandling, approached Joshua Rohner, a homeless veteran struggling with PTSD. What happened during that encounter is under dispute. What is known for certain is that the police tased Sunshine, Joshua’s registered service dog, and arrested Joshua. They separated him from Sunshine, who was killed by a car while Joshua was still in custody. When Joshua got out, he wanted only to find Sunshine, and put whatever energy he had left into doing so. When he learned she'd been killed, he attempted to take his own life.  

Since the incident, Joshua has been trying to get the police bodycam footage released. A superior court judge initially denied a request, but on July 27 another judge ordered its release.

"The Libertarian Party of North Carolina is pleased that the City of Gastonia has finally released the body camera footage from the October 13, 2021, arrest of homeless Iraq war veteran Joshua Rohrer," said Joe Garcia, party chair. "This most basic level of transparency will allow public scrutiny to hold the police accountable for their treatment of the most defenseless among us. We look forward to supporting Joshua in whatever action he chooses to take next."

"While we applaud the release of the body camera footage as a positive step, we are painfully cognizant of the fact that the release of these videos required nearly 10 months of public pressure and legal wrangling," Garcia added. "We will continue to push for police accountability and broader criminal justice reform, and we look forward to working with all liberty-minded people in our relentless defense of basic human rights.  

Continue reading for background on the incident and the months-long effort to obtain justice for Joshua.

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Today is Juneteenth, the day that African-American slaves in Texas were informed that they were supposed to have already been emancipated two and a half years earlier.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation declared (in summary) "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Although this proclamation was issued, slavery did not end immediately. Due to being more geographically isolated, a lot of slaveholders migrated to Texas to escape the fighting of the Civil War.

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Election System Review Rules Too Restrictive

RALEIGH (June 7) – The rules proposed by the State Board of Elections for the first independent review of election system software will prevent a meaningful source code review and security examination of the system, said Joe Garcia, Libertarian Party of North Carolina chair.

As chair of a recognized political party, Garcia is one of a handful of key stakeholders with the authority to conduct an independent security review and source code examination of the state's electronic voting systems. (N.C.G.S.163-165.7(f)(9)).

According to the state board, this information "includes proprietary and highly sensitive information for certified voting systems, including source codes for voting machines and election management systems and their software."

The LPNC requested the review in December 2021. "Before granting the request, as required by law, the State Board of Elections said it needed to write rules for the review, even though the law has been on the books since 2005,” commented Garcia. Even though the law is nearly 20 years old, the state board never wrote rules on how to implement it.

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