Scofflaws in Uniform Beware — The Placard Abuse Twitter Account is Back!

This is an image very similar to the one that got @placardabuse banned. Photo: Twitter
This is an image very similar to the one that got @placardabuse banned. Photo: Twitter

Look out, placard-wielding city workers — the watchdog account dedicated to documenting every time you misuse your real or fake laminated, city-issued invitation to corruption is back from a two-day Twitter suspension.

The account, @placardabuse, announced on Tuesday that it had deleted a single tweet that had been flagged by the social media company, ending a lockout that began Sunday after a complaint by a person who apparently objected to being exposed as a privileged illegal parker.

Twitter had never revealed — neither to the watchdog account holders or to Streetsblog — how the tweet violated Twitter’s rules, which bar publication of certain private information. The tweet in question did include a photo that showed the business card of NYPD Det. Kai Estwick, including his cellphone and his email address, but the card was left on the dashboard of a car that had been parked in a known placard cruising area on W. 55th Street — and its placement on the dashboard clearly did not constitute an attempt by the cardholder to keep his information private.

“It seems [Twitter] only received a complaint about the one tweet,” the person who moderates @placardabuse told Streetsblog. “But why they view it as a violation of their policy, and why they can’t explain it, is entirely beyond me.”

Neither Estwick nor the NYPD have commented.

This is the tweet and the photo that has been removed, though a similar photo remains live on the site.
This is the tweet and the photo that apparently got @placardabuse in troubhe, though a similar photo remained live on the site.

The keepers of the three-and-a-half-year-old placard abuse account — who remain anonymous because they have been threatened previously by NYPD officers — called the complaint “bogus” and “an effort to suppress documentation of wrongdoing.” And the watchdog account filed a counter-claim with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau to ascertain whether Estwick or another NYPD employee misused his or her authority to get Twitter to temporarily block the account and censor the single tweet.

“We have asked the Internal Affairs Bureau and the Conflicts of Interest Board to investigate if anybody misused their position in an effort to suppress Constitutionally protected speech in an effort to avoid accountability,” the account moderator told Streetsblog.

The return of @placardabuse means that whistleblowers can go back to what they do best: documenting illegal and dangerous parking by NYPD, FDNY, court officers, Department of Investigation officers and so many others who leave their cars wherever they want, thanks to a thin piece of plastic — so many of which are fabrications.

Since Tuesday morning’s restoration, @placardabuse has been busy, retweeting other accounts’ photos of placard corruption, as well as posting examples of how the placard class treats city streets in the Bronx, at a fire hydrant, in a no-stopping zone, and by cops of Brooklyn’s 60th Precinct.

The watchdogs are obviously back.

  • I think I’ll go to Times Square and get me an NYPD souvenir t-shirt, and place that on the dashboard whenever I illegal-park. Lots of people do it. This way, I cannot get in trouble for counterfeiting a placard. Pretty sure there’s nothing illegal about leaving a t-shirt on the dashboard.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve heard an MTA vest works also.

  • cjstephens

    Fun fact: new MTA employees are specifically trained never to leave their vests on the dashboard, not so much out of placard abuse concerns, but rather out of fear that the vest will get stolen and used as a way to sneak in to MTA property.

  • cjstephens

    Keep fighting the good fight, @placardabuse!

  • Joe R.

    I didn’t know that but it makes sense. Last thing you want is unauthorized people on MTA property.

  • neroden

    Thank you! And thanks for reporting the actual name being used to try to get away with illegal parking. We don’t know whether it’s Estwick, or whether someone else was abusing their card, but if it was someone else, Estwick will probably want to know, and if it was Estwick, well… that’s someone who doesn’t belong on the force.

    It’s important to know *who* the scofflaws are. By name. That’s a vital part of investigation leading to lawsuits and prosecutions to clean up the rotten NYPD.