Originally published in the Gothamist
Video: Bicycling Activists Detained For Impersonating Police During “Film the Police” Ride
Two Time’s Up! activists wearing cartoonish police costumes were arrested on the Lower East Side during a “Film the Police” group bike ride Friday night as they headed downtown to gather in solidarity with jailed Occupy Wall Street protesters. As you can see in the videos below,Barbara Ross and Keegan Stephan were told they were being arrested for impersonating police officers. But after spending a few hours locked up at the local precinct, officers apparently came to their senses.
Instead, the two were charged with reckless endangerment. Ross tells us, “I’m still not clear what we did that was reckless or why they insisted on keeping my red tricycle and video camera and Keegan’s bicycle as evidence. It seems the supervisor at the 7th Precinct wasn’t informed that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department just days before declared that citizens have a First Amendment right to videotape the actions of police officers in public places and that seizure of such recordings violates constitutional rights.”
At the precinct Ross was told to hand over her shirt with the duct-tape lettering, “NYPD TARU,” so officers could submit it as evidence. Wylie Stecklow, an attorney representing the activists, argues that the wearing of NYPD on the clothes in the manner they wore them violated no law and that the officer authorizing her arrest “was wrong so they came up with a different charge to try to justify the unlawful arrest.” Here’s more video showing Ross’s arrest:
Stecklow, who is one of the lawyers representing OWS citizen journalists and four City Council members suing the city for civil rights violations, is trying to recover the activists’ property. And Ross points out that she previously encountered Lt. Dan Albano from the NYPD’s Office of Legal Matters while wearing the same costume, and he complimented her. That encounter was caught on camera; check it out at the 1:24 mark: