NYPD Flyer Warns Cops About 'Professional Agitators' Armed With Cameras

DNAinfo.com reports that two Harlem activists were the focus of an NYPD flyer resembling a wanted poster that identified them as "known professional agitators" because of their work documenting stop-and-frisk encounters. The flyer, which carried the NYPD shield and the logo of the department's intelligence division, featured photographs of Matthew Swaye and Christina Gonzalez, who have a YouTube channel where they post video of police stops. The flyer alerted officers to the public-relations threat posed by the couple (sic):

Above subjects MO is that they video tape officers performing routine stops and post on YouTube. Subjects purpose is to portray officers in a negative way and too deter officers from conducting there responsibilities. Above subjects also deter officers from being safe and tactical by creating unnecessary distractions. Do not feed into above subjects propaganda.

Although Swaye and Gonzalez understandably viewed the flyer, which included their home address, as an attempt to intimidate them, that last recommendation could be interpreted to mean that officers should ignore the "agitators" rather than try to stop them. "There have been times when it's gotten combative," Swaye told DNAinfo.com, a local news site. "There have been times when they [police officers] have videoed Christina. But if we were breaking the law they would have arrested us."

If recording officers as they go about their routine work in public makes them look bad, maybe there is something wrong with standard police practices. Obviously Swaye and Gonzalez think so, and they are not alone. The eveyday harassment of supposedly suspicious black and Hispanic men—who nine times out of 10 are not doing anything to justify an arrest or summons and who are frequently subjected to pat-downs that almost never discover weapons, even though that possibility is the rationale for these searches—is not "propaganda"; it's reality. If that reality looks ugly on YouTube, perhaps it is time for the NYPD to reconsider its constitutionally questionable tactics.

Predictably, the flyer that urged officers not to help Swaye and Gonzalez make their case against the NYPD proved to be self-defeating:

Go here for more on camera-shy cops, including Radley Balko's 2011 Reason cover story on the subject.

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  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    SWATzi #1: CAMERA!

    SWATzis #2-#10: BLAM! BLAM BLAM!BLAM! BLAM BLAM!BLAM! BLAM BLAM!

    Victim Perp: *THUD*

    SWATzi #1: Man! That was CLOSE! Just another drug-related death...

  • Bill||

    Or the last line could be interpreted to mean approach them from behind and carry out any actions necessary.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you're not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to hide.

    That's what we are told, so why not apply the same rule to those who enforce the rules?

    Haaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha haaa! Expect cops to abide by the rules that they enforce! Haaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha!

    Whew!

    I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip the waitress.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    And get receipts for those tips. That's taxable income, yo.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    "Just the tip, ma'am..."

  • Tulpa the White||

    Your Golden Rule is inside out.

  • ||

    Obviously they are enemies of the state and must be treated as such.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Gonzalez can't spare a 'Z' from his name to give to her? Come on man.

    Also, I'm with the NYPD on this one. I mean morally I'm totally against it, but they look really shady, so just this once, I think their (there?) campaign of intimidation is justified. I mean really, what does she want to do be a backup singer for Soulfly or something?

  • Killazontherun||

    No! No! We need all the 'Zs'. It is the secret to what makes us so sezzy.

  • Paul.||

    I'm still trying to figure out what it would take to have dinner with Miss Gonzalez.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ature=plcp

  • tarran||

    Professional agitators?

    They get paid?!?

    How do I get in on this racket?

  • Tulpa the White||

    YouTube subscriptions are a form of pay.

  • ||

    WTF does "being tactical" mean?

    Is it the act of strapping on even more mall ninja tacticool gear?

  • tarran||

    They're in the jungle, and charlie is hiding in the trees.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    It's "George", and that's RACIST

  • Killazontherun||

    We're fine with mild racism. Otherwise, we would not get any notice at all.

  • BoscoH||

    Subjects purpose is to portray officers in a negative way and too deter officers from conducting there responsibilities.

    As if proper use of there/their didn't already cast aspersions on the clown segment of the police force.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Yore hate four the poe lease is sew obviouos!1 Yule bee sory when yew half a problum and their not theyr'e four ewe!

    Jeebus H Fuck Me!

  • ||

    Don't forget "too deter".

  • croaker||

    You don't need to pass the English Regents Exam to get a job with NYPD.

  • Tulpa the White||

    If recording officers as they go about their routine work in public makes them look bad, maybe there is something wrong with standard police practices.

    Only the guilty have reason to fear?

    Look, I think S+F is a horrible, liberty destroying tactic, but let's not make a blanket statement. There are plenty of reasons people who are doing nothing wrong would not want to have their activities sliced and diced in iMovie by someone with an agenda, as happened with the Berkeley OWS pepper spray incident.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Please note that I'm not saying I support laws against taping cops. Just saying that their reluctance to be taped is not necessarily an indication they're doing something wrong (even though they are in this case).

  • T||

    I'll agree with your implied point that clever editing can make anyone look bad. But if you, as a public servant, are uncomfortable with scrutiny, well, tough shit. Go to work in the private sector.

  • ||

    Even the Nazgul resist the camera.

  • Brutus||

    I guess the guys doing the S+F are in the wrong business then. They're public employees in public places performing duties in the name of public safety. If they don't like it, maybe there's something wrong with what they're doing.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Which is why it's important for police to film themselves, to have a counternarrative in those cases.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...that last recommendation could be interpreted to mean that officers should ignore the "agitators" rather than try to stop them.

    "I'm not touching you... I'm not touching you... No touches..."

  • Tulpa the White||

  • Zeb||

    There are plenty of reasons people who are doing nothing wrong would not want to have their activities sliced and diced in iMovie by someone with an agenda, as happened with the Berkeley OWS pepper spray incident.

    Sure, but if they are public officers, doing their thing in public places, then tough titty. Maybe they should record themselves and make their own youtube channel to show people what they really do if they are doing nothing wrong.

  • sarcasmic||

    There's this show called Cops. Perhaps you've heard of it?

  • Tulpa the White||

    I didn't know that was real.

  • Zeb||

    Is that still on? I was always amazed that police departments thought that show depicted cops in a good enough light that they would allow them to follow them. I think COPS really helped in the development of a healthy disrespect for cops.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not only that, they've got Campus P.D., Alaska State Troopers, Police Women of Broward County and a whole host of spin offs that celebrate authority keeping the little people in line.

    Like you, I don't understand how someone can watch any of those programs without getting a sinking feeling in their stomach over what an authoritarian police state this country has become.

  • niobiumstudio||

    Awesome grammar on the part of the police... I know the "being tactical" takes the cake, but fucking up "too" and "there" for "to" and "their" just shows the education level of their "intelligence" division...

  • Zeb||

    It was more of John's freelance work.

  • ||

    JOOHN LUUMEZ LAHRJ!!!!

  • Ken Shultz||

    As reprehensible as it is for the cops to target people with posters like that, it's nice to know that these activists (if that's what they are) really can have an impact.

    I suppose the worst thing that could happen would be if their efforts were just completely ignored. At least they know they're not ineffective!

  • niobiumstudio||

    I wouldn't say the worst thing that could happen is being ignored. They could be in far worse shit than just being ignored. Sure, they could sue if the cops violated their civil rights (assuming they had the money to do it) - but they have to be alive for that to happen. How many isolated incidents have you read about where officer fuckwad "accidentally" discharges his weapon into the back/head/neck of an unarmed man/woman/child (or more than one simultaneously).

  • Ken Shultz||

    Well, there's what could happen to them--and then there's a society where no matter what activists do to expose police misconduct, it never does a bit of good.

    That's the worst case scenario for me. When no one cares enough about the abuse of our rights at the hands of the police, that when activists expose misconduct, it just doesn't matter anymore?

    That's the worst thing that could happen--when people get so worn down that they just don't care about each other's rights anymore.

  • BoscoH||

    What would happen if they posted a cop's home address in a video they post to YouTube?

  • ||

    Does "STOP RESISTING!" ring a bell?

  • Espantapajaros||

    "If recording officers as they go about their routine work in public makes them look bad..."

    In defense of this sentiment, when one turns the camera on and off can have the effect of making a slightly excessive response to a violent suspect appear to be an unprovoked beatdown.

    That having been said, the spelling and grammar in that flyer was fucking criminal.

  • Killazontherun||

    NYPD Flyer Warns Cops About 'Professional Agitators' Armed With Cameras

    The purpose of the flyers was not to warn the cops of anything. It was to intimidate the two 'trouble makers.' A gross violation of their civil liberties in and of itself.

  • Invisible Finger||

    You shoot picture, we shoot you!

  • Killazontherun||

    Just a teeny amendment.

    In Soviet America, You shoot picture, we shoot you!

  • Auric Line Special||

    But are they asking the tough questions and then posting the results to Youtube?

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