Target: The New York Police Department
Goal: Stop putting activists engaged in legal activities on public advisory posters.
The New York Police Department has posted public advisory posters targeting citizen activists who work within the law to protest police violence. Despite the fact that these posters are usually used for wanted criminals or to warn the public about dangerous individuals, the NYPD has decided that it is appropriate to use them to target individuals who videotape police during the commission of their duties.
Anti-police brutality activists Matt Swaye and Christina Gonzales are the individuals who brought this situation to the public. During a press conference in a police station, these activists noticed that there were posters with their photos and an accompanying advisory identifying them as “professional agitators” due to their work recording police brutality on film. If it were not egregious enough that activists would be put alongside violent criminals on these posters, the warnings contained the living addresses of the activists. The story of these two activists is most likely not an isolated incident and it opens up the very important debate over whether or not the police are overstepping their authority.
Filming the police is not illegal, nor is it an activity that should warrant one’s face being put on a wanted poster. Activists who report on police brutality should, as long as they stay within the law, be protected from all forms of police harassment. The simple fact that the police do not like an individual or their work does not justify them posting personal information about them and making it appear as though they are criminals.
Sign this petition in order to demand that the NYPD remove all posters persecuting social activists and promise never to put non-criminals on such posters again. The right to protest in the United States is vital and provides accountability in our public institutions. We, the public, must protect activists from groups which may attempt to attack or intimidate them in retaliation for holding those in power accountable.
Dear New York Police Department,
Your department has been reported to have posted public advisory posters targeting anti-police brutality activists. The posters in question include pictures, personal information, and the insulting characterization of the activists as “professional agitators”. These activists are not put on these posters because they are dangerous or wanted for breaking the law, but because they record police officers on video.
If the police are operating within the law and have nothing to hide from the public, there is no reason why they should object to being recorded; the officers being recorded are patrol officers and are not involved in an aspect of law enforcement where videos may be dangerous to such officers (ex. undercover officers), thus there is no compelling interest to stop such recordings from being made. The courts have regularly upheld the fact that recording the police during the commission of their duties is protected and there is no cause for the police to interfere with the videographer.
Since these activists are not wanted for a crime and are not a danger to society, there is no excuse for the police to post their pictures. I, as well as everybody else who signed this letter, demand that the NYPD immediately remove existing posters targeting activists and cease all future poster campaigns against social activists. The right to protest is constitutionally protected and the police have no right or reason to target citizens who are simply exercising their rights.
[Your Name Here]