NYPD Acted as Republican Goon Squad
Joshua Kinberg's internet-connected, sidewalk-printing graffiti bike got him a lot of attention ahead of the 2004 Republican National Convention; he was Boing Boinged, Slashdotted and featured on CNN and in Popular Science.
Though he didn't know it at the time, his gadget also landed him a spot in secret files being compiled by the New York Police Department's intelligence arm against protest groups across the country.
"The existence of these files show that there was a premeditated desire to prevent my project and arrest me to avoid having embarrassing messages on the streets during the convention," Kinberg said.
Kinberg's invention was a bicycle equipped with a line of spray cans pointed at the ground, and activated by individual computer-controlled solenoids. If all had gone according to plan, Kinberg would have ridden the bicycle around the streets of New York during the RNC, while users submitted messages through his Bikes Against Bush website. The messages would have been relayed to his laptop through a cell phone, then sprayed on the sidewalk behind him in a dot-matrix of water-soluble chalk.
But the New York Police Department had a different idea.
A friend of mine traveled to NYC from California in order to take part in the protests-- he spent the entire time in a pen, so the NYPD could spare the conventioning Republicans any fuss or bother by, you know, people exercising their First Amendment rights. This is what a police state looks like.