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COMO YOU KNOW: Matt Akins

Thursday, May 8, 2014 | 9:20 p.m. CDT; updated 7:06 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

CoMo You Know, a community wiki, adds context to stories of local interest and serves as a reference tool for readers.

Summary:

Matt Akins is a videographer, local activist and creator of the organization Citizens For Justice. He also handles social media and music video production for local rap artists.

Factbox:

Born: Sept. 22, 1988

Hometown: Columbia

Phone: 228-8245

Email: visualocityllc@gmail.com

Citizens For Justice Facebook page

Citizens For Justice YouTube channel

Full text:

Citizens For Justice

Citizens For Justice is an interactive community resource aimed at recognizing and addressing misconduct in the local legal system. The CFJ website launched on April 20, 2011. The CFJ YouTube channel currently has more than 100,00 views.

Akins strives to give the public information about the officers at the Columbia Police Department while allowing the public to judge each officer's individual performance based on their actions.

Citizens For Justice hit the streets when Akins and some friends decided to take photos of as many CPD officers as they could for the website. After several encounters where officers were less than welcome to having their pictures taken, Akins decided to bring a video camera out and film officers interacting with citizens.

One of CFJ's videos contributed to the discovery of Officer Rob Sanders' holding cell misconduct after it was forwarded to Police Chief Ken Burton, who opened an internal affairs investigation into the incident.

Other activities

Akins is involved with other activist groups including Keep Columbia Free, Cop Block and Americans for Forfeiture Reform.

For income, Akins does videography work including music videos, commercials, documentaries and legal presentations. Currently, Akins is handling social media and producing commercials for a brand of handmade Spanish shoes with five retail outlets in the U.S. He is also in the process of launching a merchandising site.

Akins' Past

Akins was born at the Boone Hospital Center in Columbia. He attended Grant Elementary School, West Junior High School and Rock Bridge High School.

In third grade, Akins was accepted into a gifted education program. He won Grant's Black History Bowl in third and fifth grade. Akins placed second and third in the school geography bee in fourth and fifth grade, respectively.

Akins was arrested for the first time in West Junior High School after a police officer found a pipe in his pocket. He was assigned a juvenile officer. After that, Akins began getting into trouble more frequently. The Rock Bridge assistant principal told Akins he needed to voluntarily leave before they formally kicked him out three months into the school year.

He was kicked out of his home and forced to live on the street, where he witnessed questionable police activity. As an adult, Akins continued to have frequent encounters with the police that he found condescending and threatening, causing him to seek a way to create change and birthing the idea of Citizens For Justice.

Updated: May 8, 2014


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