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D Magazine Journalist Convicted Over “Kill Cops” Banner

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Journalist Barrett Brown holding "Kill Cops" banner. | Image from Twitter

A United Kingdom court has convicted journalist and activist Barrett Brown for his role in a protest in London last April. A photo taken at the march showed Brown helping to hold a two-piece sign that read KILL COPS.  

Journalist Andy Ngo snapped the photo of Brown at a demonstration that was held to protest a law that gave police more power to break up protests. Ngo was called to testify against Brown during his trial. The Court found Brown guilty of “causing alarm and distress.”    

Initially, the images caused some people to believe the London Metropolitan Police staged the photo as an excuse for inciting violence against the protestors.

A popular rumor circulated that Brown was an undercover police officer, however, Brown issued a statement identifying himself in the photograph and dispelling the idea that he was working with police.

“I attended the #KillTheBill demo yesterday in central London, where I’ve been living since late last year, and upon arriving was asked by some other activists to help hold up a modular banner with the words ‘Cops Kill,’ as may be seen in some of the footage that’s been floating around,” Brown wrote in his blog.    

He further explained that he and other protestors decided to switch the sign to read “Kill Cops.” Brown was not involved with the making of the banner, and the individuals who made it were not charged with any crimes. According to Brown, police know who the responsible persons are.     

Brown was charged with two crimes for his involvement with the sign: “Displaying any writing, sign, or visible representation with intent to cause harassment, alarm, or distress,” and “Use threatening or abusive words or behavior likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.”    

“The illicit pirate kingdom of Britain has seen fit to find me guilty of having caused ‘alarm and distress’ among its emotionally fragile police force,” Brown told the Dallas Observer. “Rather than add to the already extensive list of documented irregularities that have accompanied this case from the beginning, I will merely point out that the English are an obnoxious and tiresome people that we should have finished off after we were done with Germany.”    

When the Metropolitan Police initially charged Brown, the arresting officer charged him under an incorrect code. Police officers made statements ‘on the record’ contradictory to bystander video and evidence from body-worn cameras.    

Brown contends that the case was nothing more than a trumped-up excuse to help the FBI extradite him to the United States. Brown believes that he is being targeted by law enforcement due to his investigative journalism.     

Brown, a Dallas native and former contributor to D Magazine, has also had his share of run-ins with the US federal government.

As reported by the Dallas Observer, “Brown is known for his ‘close association’ with the Anonymous hacking movement, according to US Press Freedom Tracker, a database of press freedom incidents. When federal authorities in 2012 began to crack down on a hacker group linked to Anonymous, the FBI raided Brown’s home as well as his mother’s.”

Brown was sentenced to five years in prison in connection to that investigation and for threatening an FBI agent.   

It is unclear if UK officials plan to extradite Brown. However, the UK Home Office arrested him upon his release on bond in September due to an expired visa.