Last month we witnessed the NYPD's stop-and-frisk training regimen, which included live-action scenarios featuring officers acting like bystanders videotaping police interactions. The detectives undergoing the exercise treated them with respect, but we must have missed the part where the police shame them with faux "wanted" posters. DNAinfo reports that activists Christina Gonzalez and Matthew Swaye entered the monthly meeting at the 30th Precinct to find their photos and Harlem address plastered on the podium. "I saw it immediately and was kind of blown away," Swaye says. "It was designed to show us as people who are not trustworthy or safe."
Be aware that above subjects are known professional agitators," the flyer read, according to a caption in Gonzalez's YouTube account of the flyer. "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…Do not feed into subjects propaganda."
"I stood up immediately and quietly said my face is on this," Swaye says. I tried to validate myself; talked about my degrees." A person who attended the meeting said the flyer resembled a "wanted poster," and added, "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."
Swaye and Gonzalez, who are partners, have been arrested before during demonstrations. Most recently Gonzalez was arrested and charged with second degree assault during the Father's Day stop-and-frisk rally. Gonzalez was also jailed by a judge for 10 days in May after she called him a "white racist pig" during a heated exchange in a courtroom. (The Judge, the Honorable John H. Wilson, wrote a 2006 book called Hot House Flowers that is blatant anti-immigration propaganda.)
When he called the precinct the day after the meeting, Swaye was told that the flyer had been removed, but that is cold comfort to Gonzalez. "I have nothing to hide, but for the officers to know where I live is scary. I feel scared to bring people over here now."
"We see ourselves as peace activists," Swaye said, referring to the demonstrations they attend and the videos of police interaction they post on Youtube (an increasingly common practice). "The mug shots were for civil disobedience. They have us here like we robbed a bank."