#MyNYPD Twitter reignites battle with Occupy Wall Street protesters

Dana Gethers | 4/27/2014, 2:39 p.m.

Shortly before 2pm on Tuesday April 22, the NYPD effectively reignited the several year old battle with Occupy Wall Street protesters. Continuing a public outreach campaign to improve relations with city residents, the NYPD sent out a simple tweet asking those with photos of a member of the NYPD to tweet and tag the photos with the hashtag myNYPD for a chance to be featured on the NYPD Facebook page.

What was intended to be a positive initiative immediately backfired. While some posted friendly photos of themselves posing with officers, others began to post sarcastically-captioned photos of police brutality.

Justin Wedes, co-founder of the Paul Robeson Freedom School in Brooklyn, is only one of 30 administrators of the Occupy Wall Street twitter account.

“My team at @OccupyWallStNYC saw the NYPD's #myNYPD hashtag campaign and realized quickly that it was an attempt to glorify and paint the police department in a positive light with communities,” he said.

Though the group acknowledges that the hashtag campaign was an attempt to improve relations with the public, they feared that an overwhelming amount of positive photos would be misleading.

“We hijacked it to show the kind of interactions that poor people, social justice activists, LGBT and many other communities have with police all over New York City. In a way, it was keeping the NYPD honest by giving them exactly what they asked for: a close-up view of how [some] New Yorkers are forced to interact with over-bearing and unprofessional police officers.”

The tactic gained popularity over the course of the day, as tens of thousands of people posted comments on Twitter about instances of police brutality. By the end of the evening #myNYPD was the top trending hashtag.

The OccupyWallStNYC twitter page posted some of the most notable tweets.

One shows a young Black man being pinned to a car hood by three officers along with the caption “Free Massages from the #NYPD. What does YOUR police department offer?”

Another shows an officer with his baton raised about to strike protesters accompanied by the caption “Here the #NYPD engages with its community members, changing hearts and minds one baton at a time.”

Despite the overwhelmingly negative response, the NYPD maintains that they are open to opinions to any and all opinions that New Yorkers have to offer up.

“The NYPD is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community,” said Kim Royster, an NYPD spokeswoman in a statement released Tuesday evening. “Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.”

This bittersweet open dialogue exchange between community members and their police departments has since gone global with #myLAPD in California, #myELA in Greece, #MiPolicia in Spain, and #MiPoliciaMexicana in Mexico.

Positive outreach or not, Wedes says for the NYPD “changing the relationship of police and community begins with recognizing the failings of, and bringing an abrupt end to, Stop and Frisk and all forms of racist policing.”