Target: New York City Police Department
Goal: Drop charges against artist arrested for hanging posters displaying anti-police surveillance messages
Last week, artist Essam Attia was arrested and imprisoned for hanging artwork around the city criticizing police surveillance. He has been released on bail, but is charged with 56 counts of possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and weapons possession for an unloaded .22-caliber revolver he had in his apartment (pressherald.com). It is becoming more and more commonplace for police to arrest citizens for “suspect” behavior that is not illegal and then find unrelated charges meant to incriminate them. The charges against Essam Attia must be dropped as his arrest was a violation of our First Amendment rights.
In tracking down Attia after he explained online why he was producing and displaying the artwork, the police have proven that they are in fact surveying citizens who exercise their right to freedom of speech. They are also imposing on rights protecting us from unreasonable search and seizure. Hanging political artwork should not offer police the right to search a citizen’s home and then arrest and charge them with crimes unrelated to their arrest.
This outrageous infringement on our First Amendment rights is also a threat to the arts, which have historically been a tool for creatively informing the world’s citizens of social issues they may not otherwise know about. It sends a direct message to artists, encouraging them to censor and stifle their creative impulses…and keep the public in the dark about social issues.
By signing this petition, you are urging the NYPD to uphold our right to free speech by dropping all charges against Essam Attia.
Dear New York City Police Department,
Last week, Essam Attia was arrested for hanging anti-police surveillance artwork and then charged with crimes unrelated to the cause of arrest. Essam Attia was essentially arrested for exercising his right to free speech
By tracking down Essam after he went online to explain the message of his artwork, you are proving him right: police are surveying citizens and will arrest those who exercise their right to free speech if it conflicts with governmental practices and policies.
The arrest is also a threat to artists. New York is famous for being a city where artists can express themselves openly and freely. Art and political activism are an essential part of New York’s culture and history. By arresting and incriminating Essam Attia, you are sending the message that artists must censor their work, or risk being arrested.
Respect our right to free speech and discourage art censorship by dropping the charges against Essam Attia.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: blognuevayork.com