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New York street artist avoids jail for satirical police drone posters

New York street artist avoids jail for satirical police drone posters

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After over a year, the artist who was arrested for replacing ordinary New York sidewalk ads with satirical PSAs about an NYPD drone strike program is in the clear. Animal New York reports that all complaints have been dropped against Essam Attia, who was initially charged with three felonies and two lesser charges in December of 2012. Those charges were reduced last year, and now they've been dismissed altogether, something Attia attributes partly to his attorney prolonging the case until media furor had died down. "It was old enough news that it didn't matter anymore," he tells Animal.

Attia's striking drone posters and alerts were a common sight in Midtown New York during the fall of 2012. The artist behind them, though, remained unknown until Animal posted an anonymized interview and some details about how he surreptitiously pasted the posters over existing New York ads. Months later, he was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a forged instrument, as well as separate weapons charges after police allegedly found an unloaded revolver in his apartment. If the charges had stuck, Attia says he could have faced jail time.

Attia's posters were meant to draw attention to an increasingly surveillance-focused and militarized New York police force, and his arrest only emphasized his point. In the 15 months since then, he says, his case hasn't gone to trial, and he says this decision came as "a surprise" to him and his attorney.