Hipster Cop & the Repression of Occupy Wall Street Protests

There is no question that the relationships law enforcement bodies have developed with activist communities has been a pervasive and chilling one.  US history has shown time and time again that those who have chosen to speak truth to power are often faced with ridicule, coercion, intimidation, and out-right violence.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is only different when you consider the speed in which it has materialized.  The rapid growth of the OWS movement has not given some agencies time to adapt and therefore some of the investigative witch hunts associated with the anti-war, animal rights and environmental movements may not rear their ugly heads in this chapter.  However, what we are seeing play out in the streets speaks to a new level of desperation.  Grotesque abuse at the hands of rank-and-file NYPD beat cops is causing many to question whether  a multi-million dollar support package that J.P. Morgan gave to the NYPD means the protests are getting “special” treatment.


Private interests have not only given money to law enforcement, they have also shared intelligence that would have otherwise required warrants to obtain, warrants the NYPD and FBI could not get because the OWS movement was not guilty of predicate criminal activity.  Gawker reported yesterday that the FBI was spoon-fed information by Thomas Ryan, a conservative computer expert who supposedly hacked activist forums, sifted through private emails, and issued reports back to both Wall Street firms and the FBI detailing the moves and plans of the protesters.    Ryan also brags to have “infiltrated the movement in hopes to discredit it.”  Similarly, there has been a half dozen or more reports of ground-level infiltration of the OWS group by plain-clothes officers (some more noticeable then others) which is to be expected with any event of this size, but one of these plain clothes officers has become a pseudo-celebrity as of late.

Detective Rick Lee, Community Relations Detective for Manhattan’s 1st Precinct (or “Hipster Cop” as the world has come to know him) is now a larger then life character because of his unconventional dress and cocky attitude.  While organizing at Liberty Plaza members of the Sparrow Media team were asked by a news agency if we had additional information about Lee, so we compiled some footage and info.  In the big picture of the struggle against corporate greed Lee is nothing more then a pawn, but it is important to note law enforcements attempt to coerce and destabilize our movements.  Even though it is hysterical to read comedian Jamie Killstein come to his defense saying “Guys! Stop making fun of #hipstercop! He’s trying to find himself.” or to read the myriad tumblr references to his style, it is important to remember Hipster Cop is part of the process of intimidation, ridicule, and violence being levied against us.

“What would have to happen is that a representative from Brookfield would go into the park, and say, ‘You’re in violation of the rules of the park that apply. You’re trespassing,’” Detective Rick Lee of the NYPD’s community affairs office told attendees.They pressed him to be sure: It’s Brookfield’s move to make, then?

“That’s the scenario,” Lee said. “Politically, when that button is going to be pushed is beyond my pay grade.”

Please practice good security culture and keep in mind that as things continue to ramp up nation-wide so will the response from law enforcement.  Try to also not let your security protocols cripple your groups with paranoia, instead simply practice good security and fairness with the people around you.  Lastly remember if they are not paying attention, then you are doing something wrong.  Right now you guys are winning, keep it up!