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Rapper Posts Fake MTA Signs Equating NYPD to KKK and Nazis

By Aidan Gardiner | January 16, 2015 1:30pm
 Bilal Johnson has been putting up stickers in the subway to protest police brutality, he said.
Artist Posts Stickers Equating the NYPD and KKK
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BROOKLYN — A rapper has been plastering the city's subways with fake MTA signs equating the NYPD to Nazis and the KKK as a way of protesting police brutality.

Bilal Johnson, who performs as Buddha Lee Raye and also does graphic design, was outraged by the deaths of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown at the hands of police.

So he designed and printed 2,000 of the controversial stickers on Dec. 17 and has been posting them all over the city ever since, he said.

Johnson, a 24-year-old East New York resident, replaced the symbols for prohibited behavior shown in official MTA signs with a Klu Klux Klan hood, a Nazi swastika and the NYPD seal.

"Anyone can make the case that the police department helps the people of New York on a daily basis," Johnson said. "But there's that aspect of brutality that gets overlooked. That needs to stop."

The stickers, which also feature urls to his music and a creative collective he works with, are meant to promote peace, Johnson said.

"The sticker reads how it does: No KKK. No Nazis. Please, stop hating. Stop killing. Stop racism," he said.

Subway riders have posted photos of the stickers on Twitter and Facebook.

Johnson has also posted photos on his own social media accounts.

The NYPD has recently become a divisive issue for New Yorkers.

Some have condemned the police for recently killing two unarmed men — Eric Garner and Akai Gurley, while others have staunchly supported the NYPD, especially after two detectives were assassinated as they sat in their squad car in Bed-Stuy last month.

Johnson hopes people will be more receptive to his message because he's mimicking the MTA's style, which they're already familiar with.

"I needed something that people would automatically see and take a moment to process — something people thought that they saw before but when they looked closer it's actually something different," Johnson said.

"I wanted that shock value."

Reactions have been mixed, Johnson said, with some people defacing the stickers while others support him.

Johnson said that he was posting stickers on a 4 train when an MTA worker spotted him, smiled and asked for copies for himself.

The MTA released a statement opposing the stickers.

"This is an act of vandalism," said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. "The signs will continue to be immediately removed after they are located. Unfortunately acts of vandalism require shifting personnel away from their normal duties and responsibilities, which costs everyone."

"This individual is far from an artist," Ortiz added.

NYPD and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association officials did not immediately return requests for comment.

Whatever reactions he might get, Johnson doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon, he said.

"We’re not going to continue to take the brutality and killing and the recklessness from the police department just like we stopped taking it from the KKK and the Nazis," Johnson said.

"It has to stop."