The Facebook group that serves as the voice of the Yellow Ribbon Vigilante Movement on Staten Island is dominated by unrepentant violent Trumpist lawbreakers who post about conspiracy theories, brag about reckless driving, vent outrage over any criticism, and offer advice on the best way to break the law by obscuring a license plate from cameras or vandalizing the devices themselves.
In fact, you’d be forgiven if you thought that the “Staten Island Speed Cameras” page was a campaign-support group for President Trump, who won the borough with 57 percent of the presidential vote in 2016. The page is filled with Twitter gifs of Trump giving the thumbs up.
The page creates the impression that supposedly law-and-order Staten Island contains a rather large subculture of reckless drivers who egg each other on as they openly defy the traffic laws and look for ways to evade, disable or even destroy speed cameras (or at least fantasize that they will).
Mostly, the members of the group complain that speed cameras (and, indeed, many other traffic and parking regulations) aren’t designed to ensure streets safety, but are really a plot to soak hard-working people —a talking point advanced by Republican Council Member Joe Borelli, himself a reckless driver with five speed-camera-issued tickets, including three since May, 2018.
But the page veers into hate speech. After Streetsblog covered the hypocrisy of the Yellow Ribbon Vigilante movement, the Facebook group published our editor Gersh Kuntzman's home address, a malicious practice called doxing. Two threatening phone calls have been made to our office.
“Appropriately named KUNTZman is a libtard PUSSY," one member of the group posted, referring to Kuntzman, who has long been a target of the right wing for his opposition to guns and his belief that drivers should not exceed posted speed limits. "Reach down deep and find a bigger set of balls you CUCK."
Another poster mentioned our story and added, "Anyone read all their garbage? Calling us reckless [sic] drivers for not wanting to give the city our hard earned money. Next one of you I see flying down the street on a bicycle, I may just swing my car door open and laugh while you take a bite of the blacktop." (Opening a door into a cyclist, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is a violation of state law.)
Posters' fantasies about damaging the speed cameras is a recurrent theme. A post featuring a video of a person knocking over a Washington, D.C., speed camera garnered 106 positive reactions and 31 comments, such as “Give that man a medal lol” and “We need to come together and start taking these fuckers down!”
Another poster advocated using explosives.“I say someone starts throwing M80’s at these cameras,” he said. Another remarked about a camera, "Wow that one is so low, hit it w a hammer, break the lense."
Most interesting from the point of view of would-be law-breakers is the discussion of the relative merits of the license-plate-obscuring products.
One member, John C, posted a screenshot of an eBay page for a “PhotoBlocker Spray to avoid red light camera and speed tickets.” Another, however, complained that the “spray don’t work” and posted a video advertising a retractable license-plate cover. “Just hit the button when you no [sic] when a camera is coming up,” wrote the group member.
But most posters just seem to want bellyache about the tickets they've accrued and trade tips on how to avoid getting caught breaking the law while driving, noting speed-camera locations (“South Avenue and Travis. Right before the light”) and posting maps.
“Everyone needs to get the Waze app on their phone!” one poster, Peter S Mueller, recommended, referring to the popular cell-phone direction-finder. The NYPD sent a cease-and-desist order to Waze’s corporate owner, Google, last year after Streetsblog exposed that the app was enabling drivers to avoid police DWI checkpoints.
“It alerts you to speed-bus lane-and red light cameras. It even tells you where the cops are hiding out to bust you for whatever traffic infraction you may do,” the poster added.
Technology is treacherous, as one poster discovered: “There aren’t just pole cameras,” he marveled. “There’s also mobile ones; this Bastard got me last week outside Farrell high school Go slow or youll get a ticket in the mail#FUCKTHESECAMERAS.”
In the view of the posters, the cameras are an effort of an out-of-touch government elite to rob and oppress the Rock’s residents.
“Ridiculous ... working man is a sucker..we work to pay the city.. this is strictly to milk our bank accounts,” as one poster said.
“If you believe speed cameras are about safety and not about unfairly targeting the middle class neighborhoods to squeeze them out as a means to a socialist end while subverting the constitutional law and ushering in a police state by design of death by a 1000 cuts or a frog in boiling water then you might be an NPC,” according to another commenter. “This is not even about DOOINGTHESPEEEEDLIMIT. … So stop being a bootlicking sycophant and STAND UP TO THESE CORRUPT COMMIE FUCKS before they take the MILE from another INCH you gave to your overlords.”
Needless to say, the page in Trumpist fashion identifies a number of enemies, such as Mayor de Blasio (“Jerk off drop dead and your asshole wife”) and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, who co-sponsored the law doubling the number of speed cameras.
The page's house artist, of course, isScott LoBaido, who organized a rally over the weekend featuring volunteers holding posters of Mayor de Blasio with devil horns and the words “Speed Camera Ahead.”
Just to really piss off the Facebook group, Streetsblog is reposting its song parody, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Camera Pole," as performed by The Speeders, with lyrics under the Soundcloud embed. Enjoy.
I’m drivin’ home, I’m going fast I’ll slow down if a camera I should pass The good news is my neighbors help me drive so recklessly Hanging warning ribbons to help me keep my speed (to help me keep my speed)
Whoa, tie a yellow ribbon ’round the cam’ra pole Why must pesky cops try to slow my roll? If I just see a ribbon ’round the cam’ra pole I’ll have to slow down, put on a frown, and drive under control! If I just see a yellow ribbon ’round the cam’ra pole.
These camera systems punish me It’s a war on cars — as everyone can see The mayor calls for safety, but he really just wants money Driving fast is what we do — Americans are free! Driving slow is such a tease
Whoa, tie a yellow ribbon ’round the cam’ra pole Why must pesky cops try to slow my roll? If I just see a ribbon ’round the camera pole I’ll have to slow down, put on a frown, and drive under control! If I just see a yellow ribbon ’round the cam’ra pole.
Kareem found out the hard way that his Craigslist gig delivering temp tags was illegal. Now he's exposing the operation that employed him, revealing clues about his anonymous bosses that all trace back to the same place.