[Ppnews] Hip-Hop Artists Arrested in East Harlem Claiming Surveillance by NYPD

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 21 14:57:25 EST 2012


  Hip-Hop Artists Arrested in East Harlem Claiming Surveillance by NYPD

By Brian Chidester 
<http://blogs.villagevoice.com/author.php?author_id=3980> Fri., Dec. 21 
2012 at 1:33 PM
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/12/activist_artist.php

Just after 4pm on December 15th, two members of the activist hip-hop 
group the Welfare Poets, along with four additional males, were arrested 
at the Wagner-Johnson housing project in East Harlem and charged with 
trespassing, a misdemeanor. Welfare Poets members Michael Pacheco (a/k/a 
Rayzer Sharp) and Keith Hughes (a/k/a Dahu Ala), along with filmmakers 
Rickey Turner and Wander Acosta and local artists Iz the Truth and Boom 
Box, were filming a music video on the building's roof when a pair of 
NYPD officers doing rounds in service area #5 asked them for a permit to 
film on the premises. Things quickly got out of hand.

According to Pacheco, the officers knew immediately who they were and 
told them that they've been under surveillance for some time. By this 
time, four additional NYPD officers had been called to the scene. When 
Pacheco opened his jacket to pull out a cigarette, the officers noticed 
the Welfare Poets logo (a seal featuring interconnecting Puerto Rican 
independence and African freedom symbols) and began searching the 
hip-hop artist's jacket without permission.

"He said, 'Oh you guys are Macheteros,'" remembers Turner. "As soon as 
they arrested us, the same officer then came back and said, 'I was going 
to let you guys go but the sergeant said no.'"

"The first cops entered with guns drawn to [Pacheco's] chest," remembers 
IZ. "We all stood there in peace and told them they didn't have to go 
that far, as were only shooting a video."

"The cops laughed," he continued.

The sergeant and lieutenant present made the decision to take the 
sextette to central booking where they would remain for over 24 hours. 
By accusing them of involvement with Los Macheteros, the officers 
implied ties to a group the FBI previously labeled as terrorists.

Los Macheteros ("Machete Wielders") are a clandestine militant 
organization based in Puerto Rico who campaign for the independence of 
Puerto Rico from the U.S. and have been accused of stealing over $7 
million from private U.S. bank accounts to further their cause. In 2005, 
the FBI assassinated its leader, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, surrounding his 
house in Hormigueros in what they claimed was a simple attempt to serve 
an arrest warrant gone violent.

How the Welfare Poets became associated with Los Macheteros goes back to 
2007, when a federal grand jury handed down subpoenas to a number of 
NYC-based Puerto Rican activists, all of whom refused to testify except 
Julio Pabon Jr.. Pabon told Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! in '08 that 
he saw two people he recognized in a book of photos shown him at FBI 
headquarters. One of the two was Hector Rivera of the Welfare Poets. No 
action was taken on the part of the grand jury, but the Welfare Poets 
and other groups, like the Puerto Rican Freedom Project, have felt the 
need to make more concerted efforts in protecting fellow activists from 
what they call baseless accusations and inquiries on the part of the 
government.

"We have been targets of the police and feds," writes Pacheco from 
Iceland, where the Welfare Poets are currently on tour for the next 
three weeks, "because music with a purpose is ultimately liberating. For 
years, we have consistently used our music to give information and 
inspiration to oppressed people everywhere."

The six men who were arrested finally stood before a judge on Sunday 
around 10pm, weary and more than a little shaken. "The way it took 10 
hours to be allowed to make a phone call," recalls Turner, "the way my 
food had been slid under the metal bars, even having a gun pointed at 
me, I felt I was being imprisoned as a mass murderer or something."

Pacheco went first before the judge, where he quickly accepted an 
Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) without legal counsel. 
The other five members were represented by attorneys Lamis J. Deek and 
Roger Warham, who recommended not taking the ACD offer, as it forgoes 
the defendants' right to sue the police for malicious prosecution. 
However, the defendants all followed suit and accepted the ACD, 
whereupon they were released without bail.

"[What] this demonstrates [is] the expansive nature of the NYPD's intel 
operations," says Lamis J. Deek, an attorney representing the six 
arrested parties. "The different ways they target activists and those 
who dissent, and the unfortunate price the taxpayers of New York are 
forced to pay for illegal activity on the part of the NYPD."

"I'm not a criminal," insists Turner, "just an educated lower class 
artist." The case has been sealed for six months in accordance with the ACD.

When reached, the NYPD had no comment.

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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