“We’re Going To Be Watching”: New York Police Arrest Man Over Allegedly Threatening Statements and Images Posted On Facebook

24FE2B9600000578-0-Aristy_s_Facebook_profile_features_many_photos_of_him_either_smo-m-44_1422071322717We have been following the response of police in the aftermath of the murder of two officers in New York. One fear is that this effort will extend to areas of free speech and the arrest this week of a teenager boy in Brooklyn would seem to confirm those concerns. Osiris Aristy posted what police consider to be threatening text and digital cartoon images – or emoji on Facebook. He was arrested for terroristic threats as well as criminal possession of a weapon, criminal use of drugs and criminal possession of marijuana. His bail was set at $150,000.


The posting have since been deleted or taken down, but there are included below.

The emojis show policemen with guns pointed at them and Aristy posted a January 15 photo of Aristy with a revolver and rounds of ammunition captioned: “feel like katxhin a body right now.” There was also a post that read: “N***a run up on me, he gunna get blown down.”

24FE2B7B00000578-0-image-a-37_1422066181121Aristy seems to relish the image of a thug and there is nothing redeeming in his postings. However, the question is where police draw the line between speech and criminal conduct. Prosecutors alleged that the posts “caused New York City police to fear for their safety.” Yet, this type of trash talk is common among rappers and others in popular media. Indeed, some of the language is hard to decipher like “F**k the 83 104 79 98 73 PCTKKKK” and “U know how I rock scrap.” There is a nature lack of sympathy of characters like Aristy but the arrest returns us to the question of “violent speech” and when it can criminalized (here and here and here).

If the arrest is found to have been made in violation of the free speech protection, it could implicate other evidence found at the scene though police could claim an exception to suppression. The subsequent search uncovered a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson firearm in his bedroom and more than 25 grams of marijuana in his living room packaged in 21 Ziplock bags.

83rd Precinct Inspector Maximo Tolentino is quoting that “You make a threat on the internet, we’re going to be watching.” The question is what constitutes a real threat and the implications of the government watching for statements deemed criminal on the Internet.

Where do you think the line should be drawn?

Here are the posts that led to the arrest of Aristy:

24FF51FB00000578-0-image-a-54_1422072577100
Source: CBS

53 thoughts on ““We’re Going To Be Watching”: New York Police Arrest Man Over Allegedly Threatening Statements and Images Posted On Facebook”

  1. Did you see where Mayor de Blasio took his son Dante aside to tell he had to very afraid and carful if he came into contact with snow.

  2. Paul – speaking of Ferguson, I hadn’t seen much mention of the DOJ deciding it will not file any charges against Darren Wilson for any civil rights violations.

    Cleared by the court. Cleared by the DOJ. Life ruined anyway.

    Oh, and Bergdhal has been charged with desertion.

    It seems like these investigations move inordinately slowly. Political timing in easing in of “bad” news?

  3. Paul, why do you assume that I am a friend of the Obama Administration or was unaware of its hostility towards whistleblowing and journalists?

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  4. One question: Does “free speech” include threats to kill another human? Specifically by name or profession? If so, does that change when the author is found with the means to do so?

    We have cyber policing now and have had for some time. The only means left is to control what it covers. Sure, we can protest, riot, march on Washington, etc…and someone will come along and tell us the cyber policing has stopped. If you believe that you kidding no one but yourself.

    My opinion is simply that threats to human life are not covered by the 1st Amendment. Otherwise make the best of what we have and be at least prudent in what we spew on the Internet or Email or any other social media. Try be a threatening jerk in a crowded bar full of strangers and see what it gets you. You head handed to you is quite likely. I don’t see a difference in social media. Manners count.

  5. How interesting to discuss how great a threat to public safety must exist before we can limit free speech, when it’s well known that even inappropriately deadpan email parody can be criminalized in America. As a matter of history and the culture of expression, one might have thought that the question: “Do we have the right to mock, to imitate, to accuse? Can the state criminalize speech with academic value?” would be considered far more significant than “What constitutes a threat?” See the documentation of one typical American case at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    Of course, there is the dissenting opinion in that case, which asserts that “the use of the criminal impersonation and forgery statutes now approved amounts to an atavism at odds with the First Amendment and the free and uninhibited exchange of ideas it is meant to foster.” But it seems that virtually all legal commentators have chosen to ignore that opinion along with the entire case, thereby reflecting their own ingrained belief that inappropriate mockery is simply not worth defending.

    So let’s be clear: inappropriate speech wasn’t worth defending 500 years ago when the Pope banned the pasquinades of Rome and the Letters of the Obscurantists (Litterae Obscurorum Virorum), many of which were published in the “names” of distinguished European academics; and inappropriate speech is also not worth defending today. Nobody in his right mind would want to be associated with that sort of stuff, right? We are, after all, a generation of cowards. As Kierkegaard said, “one is tempted to ask whether there is a single man left ready, for once, to commit an outrageous folly.” Especially in the academy. Not so?

  6. “Olly….as for cyber policing, I frankly do not have a problem with that with in reasonable limits.”

    Aridog,
    We have become so accustomed to accepting judicial reasoning by consequence or circumstance that we don’t realize how far apart we are from the constitution. You want to ‘amend’ the constitutional definition of free speech and bypass the entire amendment process; then arrest people on the grounds of public safety and wait for the activist judges to rule in favor of the state. A reasonable limit argument is precisely the sort of subjective interpretation of just law that gives us an abusive, and highly weaponized, administrative state.

  7. When one looks at the definitions of terroristic and threat one finds that it is a description of a cop.

    1. Shady_Grady – it is the left-wing Obama administration that just had a man convicted of whistle-blowing.

  8. Law Enforcement need to be held accountable both criminal and civil when they abuse their positions of authority. That is the real issue in today’s society.

    Since 911 we have elevated them to a position above those that they serve and protect and deferred to their judgement as non questionable. In reality the macro view of law enforcement is that they use public safety as a crutch to protect their union employees and a vehicle to to line their pockets with salaries, pensions and over the top equipment. The local prosecutors are the leader of these lawfully sanctioned gangs and unfortunately most judges were local prosecutors.

    We need a sea change in how we utilize these public servants and quick legal remedies for those that are erroneous charged and held.

    I am not advocating that all police officers are bad or that all of those arrested are innocent. But when law enforcement use their arrest powers to make a statement or for abuse than they need to pay an immediate penalty to those unlawfully held instead of just dismissed.

    We should all be watching.

    1. Golden Country – I would say that some LEOs have always held themselves to be above the law. We are just giving them more covering fire now.

  9. I’d love to say I’m a defender of free speech, but I don’t think anything this… guy posted is actually words, or anything that remotely qualifies as real speech.

    And police saying they are in fear for their lives is becoming as meaningless a phrase as leveraging synergy. I’m not sure how police as a whole can claim these posts need to be suppressed without individual officers testifying how they personally felt threatened. If I posted all men must die, would men in general be able to have me arrested?

    Valar morghulis.

  10. Two comments:
    1. A teenager posted a picture of himself with a handgun; given that he’s charged with illegal possession of a weapon, I would guess that the picture gave sufficient cause for a search warrant. However, I doubt that the “threats” charges will stand up (or at least, they shouldn’t stand up).

    2. Whatever happened to the right to REASONABLE bail? For a poor teenager, there is no difference between “$150,000 bail” and “denied bail”.

  11. The kid is: a drug dealer; illegally in possession of a firearm; stupid; going to skate, due to “over-eagerness” on the part of the NYPD.

    The NYPD will: have their organizational jitters exposed; become even more pissed-off at the world in general; lose in court, eventually; still be frightened.

  12. Olly….as for cyber policing, I frankly do not have a problem with that with in reasonable limits. Lethal implications are within those limits IMO. It is a reality of today. And why should you be able to make threats via keyboard or whatever without some kind of intervention. For one, I assume everything I write in email or on line is subject to scrutiny and treat is as such, just as I would be careful about running off at the mouth in a crowd of strangers.

  13. What Trooper York said at 12:14 above.

    Sometimes you are danged if you do and danged if you don’t. Which side of caution, given the locale, would you pick?

    Even if the case is dismissed, the message has been sent that someone is watching. Not sure that is good or bad, per se, but I’ve expected that condition for a long time going back to my own days in government. So far, in this case, my instinct is no harm no foul to the kid now…for now, in essence he has been warned even if nothing else comes of this case. I’m satisfied with that….particularly since the illegal gun has been confiscated.

    For myself I am very careful not to even imply, even by silly accident, harm to anyone on any Internet or social media. The days of the crazies on LGF are long past.

    This kid lives in NYC…so where did he get the gun? And why?

    PS: That last question is rhetorical…I know full well how illegal guns are acquired on the street there or here or anywhere. In 1983 I had one of mine (registered & permitted) stolen, with my car, and so far it has never turned up…but the police were not pleased it was in my car trunk, loaded, but unattended. My car was found about 40 days later (after the insurance had paid off) and it was stripped to the bare hull. That gun is still out there somewhere.

  14. I want to believe they had more cause for arrest than what has been provided here. Somehow how I don’t think civil liberties will withstand the force of cyber-policing. The sheer volume of perceived threats will overwhelm the resources for thorough investigative work and the result will be more arrests but less actual charges.

  15. This is at the same level as Micheal Brown’s step-father advocating a riot. I have no trouble mpnitoring this speech. However, I am interested as to how they got on to it.

  16. This terrible. I mean imagine if they would have arrested that guy who said he was going to give pigs wings. He never would hah a chance to kill those two cops!

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