NYPD Targets Harlem Activist Couple Who Films Stop-and-Frisks

by dave on October 8, 2012

Matthew Swaye, 35, and Christina Gonzalez, 25, stand up for what they believe is wrong. They protest, they get involved, and they record police. Both have been arrested several times for their civil disobedience, but the NYPD may have went a little far when posting flyers about the couple—warning the police to watch out for them.

Swaye noticed the flyer himself when the couple attended a precinct council meeting at the 30th precinct house in a public hearing room. The flyer had two mugshots, side by side, and this warning statement:

Be aware that above subjects are known professional agitators that live at ________. 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 to deter officers from conducting their responsibilities.

The flyer included the couple’s home address.

“Someone is going to look at that and see my face on what looks like a wanted poster,” Gonzalez said of the flyer. “Anyone who doesn’t know about our videos and know us will look at those mugshots, read about us being so-called agitators who interfere with police activity, and see criminals.”

The two asked about the flyers at the precinct meeting but received no response from police. A Sargent’s name and phone number was listed on the flyer, but when DNAinfo.com attempted to contact him, they received no response from the Sargent or anyone else with the department.

The department has since told the couple that the flyer was removed.

Most disturbing, perhaps, isn’t the fact that they could be seen as dangerous criminals, but that their home address was listed on the flyer for all cops to see. Gonzalez remarked that it made her frightened and apprehensive to have people over to her house.

The two view themselves as peace activists. Swaye was arrested in October alongside Cornel West in protesting the stop-and-frisk practices. Gonzalez was held for a few days after calling a Brooklyn judge a “white racist pig” and refusing to apologize.

The fact is—injustice has a tendency to make people upset. When you care about what is being done to your fellow man, it’s difficult to not get upset about certain injustices including the inherently biased practices of the NYPD in regards to their stop-and-frisk enforcement. While getting arrested yourself isn’t necessarily the answer, if you choose to protest, film cops, and let your voice be heard—you shouldn’t be penalized with a poster publicizing your actions and putting you at risk for retaliation.

You have rights. These include the right to protest. If you are arrested for exercising these rights, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and your legal options.

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