[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
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
"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.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews