Revolution #275, July 22, 2012
NYPD Targets STOP Stop-and-Frisk Activists
Right after tens of thousands marched in Harlem to end the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy (see Revolution #273), it was discovered that the police are targeting those protesting this illegitimate practice that targets Black and Latino youth.
Christina Gonzalez and Matt Swaye were attending a community meeting inside the 30th Precinct in Harlem when they saw a crude “wanted” style poster in a public area of the station. The poster had mug shots of Gonzalez and Swaye, with their names and arrest numbers from previous protest arrests and the street address given where they were arrested. It was signed by a police officer and headed with official logos of the NYPD and the precinct.
The text reads:
“30 Pct PROFESSIONAL AGITATORS
BE AWARE THAT ABOVE SUBJECTS ARE KNOWN PROFESSIONAL AGITATORS THAT LIVE AT [street address]. ABOVE SUBJECTS MO IS THAT THEY VIDEOTAPE POLICE OFFICERS PERFORMING ROUTINE STOPS AND POST ON YOUTUBE. SUBJECTS PURPOSE IS TO PORTRAY OFFICERS IN A NEGATIVE WAY AND TOO DETER OFFICERS FROM PERFORMING THERE RESPONSIBILITIES. ABOVE SUBJECTS ALSO DETER OFFICERS FROM BEING SAFE AND TACTICAL BY CAUSING UNNECESSARY DISTRACTION. DO NOT FEED INTO ABOVE SUBJECTS PROPAGANDA.” (sic)
Gonzalez and Swaye participated in mass civil disobedience actions last fall to end stop-and-frisk and face charges in Brooklyn and Queens along with 17 others in upcoming trials (see article in #272). They regularly videotape NYPD harassment and protest police brutality and murder. All of this is legal activity, protected by the First Amendment, for which no one should be arrested or threatened.
Within days of a photo of the poster circulating online, the New York Daily News ran a story about the poster, quoting the police, who did not deny the poster’s existence or claim it was unauthorized. An NYPD spokeswoman said it was only designed to alert officers at the stationhouse. In other words, “alerting” cops to the names of protesters, providing photos and addresses is official police activity, designed to intimidate and shut people up.
The evening after the Daily News article, Gonzalez, Swaye, and others active against stop-and-frisk were leaving the apartment at the address cited in the poster, and found three NYPD squad cars double-parked in front of the building. Two officers were in each car, several were videotaping the activists. When asked why they were there, the officers said they were responding to a 911 call, but made no moves to leave their cars. (Video at www.thenation.com/blog/168729/nypd-brands-occupy-wall-street-couple-professional-agitators.) Since then, unmarked cars with officers who people recognize from the precinct have been following the activists around the neighborhood.
NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman told DNAinfo.com, “To put up something that looks like a wanted poster with the individual’s home address and brand them as agitators is an invitation for police to target them. At best, it’s a horrific example of unethical behavior and bad judgment. At worst, it’s an invitation to target these individuals as if they were on the 10 most wanted list.”
Targeting people for arrest, following them or surrounding their homes because of their political protest speech or actions is illegal police activity. With every stop-and-frisk, the NYPD is attempting to criminalize the people. But it’s the NYPD who are the criminals, fronting for a criminal system.
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the
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