NYC Stop and Frisk: Police wanted poster targets Cop Watch video activists


The following piece appeared on ThinkProgress (July 3, 2012). It was shared by Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

By Aviva Shen

The New York Police Department has put out a “police advisory” flyer warning cops and residents to look out for two “professional agitators,” a Harlem couple who film officers stopping and frisking young New Yorkers of color.

DNAinfo reports that Matthew Swaye, 35, and his partner Christina Gonzalez, 25, came across the poster, complete with mugshots and the official seal of the NYPD’s intelligence division, taped to a podium in the 30th precinct’s public hearing room while attending a precinct council meeting. The flyer listed the home address of the couple and warned: "Be aware that the subjects are known professional agitators that live at [home address]. 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 causing unnecessary distractions. Do not feed into subjects propaganda." Swaye and Gonzalez have been arrested several times in the past year for civil disobedience. Swaye was detained at a stop-and-frisk protest in Harlem, along with a a group of advocates including Cornel West. Gonzalez was arrested at a Father’s Day stop-and-frisk march and, on a separate occasion, spent a few days at Rikers on a contempt charge after refusing to apologize for calling conservative Brooklyn Judge John H. Wilson a “white racist pig.”

The couple post videos on a YouTube channel showing NYPD officers conducting stop-and-frisks and assaulting demonstrators. Swaye explained, “We see ourselves as peace activists. The mug shots were for civil disobedience. They have us here like we robbed a bank.”

Another person attending the meeting told DNAinfo, “I thought: ‘Why isn’t anyone arresting them? When you see something like that, you think there’s a reward out for the person on the flyer.”

According to DNAinfo, the New York Civil Liberties Union recorded 7,550 total stops in the 30th precinct last year, 3,987 which involved a frisk, ranking it 38th in total number of frisks city-wide. On June 20, the NYPD invited reporters to a press conference and demo of an updated stop-and-frisk program after coming under fire for the racially-skewed practice.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - anewworldispossible

    there's been many cop watch groups throughout the US exposing cop abuse and misconduct. Observing cops is a constitutional right and posting these signs is a clear violation of this couples rights. Are any lawyers taking up the call to defend this morally correct couple?

  • Guest - Tim Rezeti

  • Guest - People2thePower

    The police station handbill warning officers about video surveillance and cautioning them "not to feed into (Sway and Gonzalez's) propaganda" is a tacit admission that videos are an effective tactic to protect the people from harassment and brutality.
    Bobby Seale said in an interview a couple years ago that the BPP patrolled the streets with law books and guns in the 1960s because those were the most effective tools available at that time to curb police violence. We should "use the technology" best suited to the job today, he said: "Network with thousands of cell phone video [cameras] and put it all on the internet!"

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