As Black Lives Matter protests swelled in the wake of the non-indictment of the cop who killed Eric Garner, and the NYPD began to repress these protests, myself and several other activists and attorneys filed freedom of information requests with the NYPD, MTA Police, and MetroNorth police, seeking records of their surveillance.
At first, the NYPD said they could not locate any records.
Then, the MTA and MetroNorth responded to our requests with hundreds of pages of documents responsive to our request, many of which were either created by or shared with the NYPD.
We published the documents with The Intercept.
The NYPD, apparently taking issue with the word undercover, told the Huffington Post they did not have undercover officers at the protests, only “plainclothes” officers.
We pointed out that the NYPD clearly had documents, and appealed its denial of our request.
The NYPD then said all of its records were exempt and refused to disclose them.
In its response to our suit, the NYPD itemized the documents it is withholding, which include multiple communications between undercover NYPD officers, contrary to the NYPD’s statement to the Huffington Post. (Here is the NYPD affidavit referenced in the answer.)
The NYPD also admits that it is maintaining multimedia files of the protests, which, unless there is still an open criminal investigation of these two-year-old protests, is likely a violation of the Handschu decree, as discussed in The Guardian today.
Even more troubling, as justification for denying the request, the NYPD likens the peaceful NYC Black Lives Matter protesters to drug dealers and jihadist, basically saying that if we are given the documents, we will figure out the identify of the undercovers and kill them. Sound absurd, but read for yourself. The NYPD’s invocation of officers killed in the line-of-duty is sickening.
We obviously believe the NYPD’s records are not exempt. Oral arguments on the case will be held on December 7, 2016.
Also published on Medium.