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A Brooklyn teenager was arrested this week for posting a series of emoji-laden threats against police on his Facebook account — including a few with symbols of guns pointing at smiling police officers' heads.
Osiris Aristy was arrested at his home in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn on January 18 and charged with making terrorist threats, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal use of drugs, and criminal possession of marijuana, officials said.
Police conducting routine social media monitoring saw on the teen's account that he posted selfies with guns and joints, in addition to making the threats to kill cops.
In two status updates dated January 15, Aristy allegedly posted an emoji cop followed by three emoji guns pointed to his head and the words "N---- run up on me, he gunna get blown down," according to the criminal complaint. "F**k the 83 104 79 98 73 PCTKKKK," he allegedly posted later that day, referring to the corresponding police precincts.
Those posts were taken down, but earlier posts with the cop-gun emoji series were still visible on Friday.
"As a result of this conduct, the defendant has caused informant and other New York City police officers to fear for their safety, for public safety, and to suffer alarm and annoyance," the criminal complaint stated. Aristy's bail was set at $150,000 and he was due in court today.
His attorney, Fred Patt, told DNAinfo that Facebook posts did not constitute "an actual threat" against the police and that many people use that emoji sequence on Facebook. He did not comment on the weapon and drugs charges.
"I understand that people found what he said distasteful and uncomfortable," he said. "But he never threatened to take action against police."
Police have been monitoring the social media accounts of suspects for years now, and have increasingly brought charges based on users' posts.
In June, the NYPD busted 103 mostly teenage alleged gang members — the largest gang takedown in the city's history — over a series of Facebook posts. But critics pointed out that many teens make these types of boasts on social media, but pose no actual threat.
"They are Facebook dummies," Rev. Vernon Williams, a Harlem pastor who has spent years trying to curb youth violence in the neighborhood, told VICE News this summer. "Because the stuff that they were saying, that was gonna come back to bite them."