The Illuminator Collective Files Lawsuit Against NYPD

May 18, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

The activists that run the Illuminator Collective, who protest injustice and corruption with guerrilla light projections in New York City and beyond, are suing the NYPD’s Central Park Precinct. Members Kyle DePew, Grayson Earle and Yates McKee are alleging false arrest and improper seizure of property, according to a press release.

DePew, Earle and McKee were arrested in September at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s unveiling of David H. Koch Plaza to protest the Met’s acceptance of the cartoonishly evil billionaire’s $65 million donation. Around 9 PM, they projected messages critical of both the Met and Koch (One read, in part, “The Met is a museum, not an oil lobby”) and by 10 PM, they were cuffed on charges of “Unlawful Posting of Advertisements.” Their projector was confiscated and, according to the collective, was kept for over two months, “preventing the Illuminator from fully participating in the Peoples’ Climate March and various other protest actions.”


A Manhattan Criminal Court Judge dismissed the charges a few months later, however, and now the Illuminator is firing back. Upon announcing the lawsuit, the Illuminator’s lawyer, civil rights attorney Samuel B. Cohen, said:

“The First Amendment was established to ensure that the government could not use its power to restrain speech on the basis of its message, or the identity of the speaker. In this case, Deputy Inspector Corey apparently did both, unlawfully arresting Illuminator Collective members to stop them from lawfully speaking truth to power, and unlawfully seizing their projector as ‘evidence’ in support of a trumped-up charge to prevent them from engaging in further speech activities within her command. We look forward to vindicating the rights of the Illuminator Collective in Court.”

(Photo: Mobilizers for the Ninety Nine)