By George Joseph for The Guardian – Undercover officers in the New York police department infiltrated small groups of Black Lives Matter activists and gained access to their text messages, according to newly released NYPD documents obtained by the Guardian. The records, produced in response to a freedom of information lawsuit led by New York law firm Stecklow & Thompson, provide the most detailed picture yet of the sweeping scope of NYPD surveillance during mass protests over the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and 2015. Lawyers said the new documents raised questions about NYPD compliance with city rules. The documents, mostly emails between undercover officers and other NYPD officials, follow other disclosures that the NYPD regularly filmed Black Lives Matter activists and sent undercover personnel to protests.
By Jack Jenkins and Carimah Townes for Think Progress – On July 17, 2014, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo wrapped his arms around Eric Garner’s neck and squeezed. He held tight as his colleagues slammed Garner, 43 years old and asthmatic, to the ground. Garner, who was unarmed at the time, gasped for air, arm outstretched, saying “I can’t breathe” over and over as officers piled on top of him. Then he was silent. The next day, when the New York Daily News released video of the encounter, Garner had already died from neck and chest compression. His death sparked national protests about police violence against the black community, and his final words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
BY Staff of ACLU – NEW YORK – In a legal challenge to the New York City Police Department’s surveillance of American Muslims, a federal judge issued a ruling calling for alterations to a landmark lawsuit settlement as a condition of approving the settlement. The alterations proposed by the judge would further strengthen the settlement’s ability to protect New York Muslims and others from discriminatory and unjustified surveillance.
By Cora Currier for The Intercept. New York City – Earlier this month, on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the lower tip of Manhattan was thronged with soldiers in uniform, firefighters marching with photos of lost friends pinned to their backpacks, and tourists bumbling around the new mall at the World Trade Center. Firetrucks and police cars ringed Zuccotti Park and white ribbons adorned the iron fence around the churchyard on Broadway. Trash cans were closed up, with signs announcing “temporary security lockdown.” So it felt a bit risky to be climbing up a street pole on Wall Street to closely inspect a microwave radar sensor, or to be lingering under a police camera, pointing and gesturing at the wires and antenna connected to it. Yet it was also entirely appropriate to be doing just that…
By Staff of NYCLU – The NYPD Inspector General today released a report that examined the NYPD’s compliance with the HandschuGuidelines — which protect New Yorkers’ lawful political and religious activities from unwarranted surveillance – while investigating a sample of cases closed between 2010 and 2015 that mostly involved American Muslims. The report found that the NYPD failed to adhere to important safeguards that protect people’s rights and the integrity of investigations
By Nathan Wellman for U.S. Uncut – A recording of an NYPD officer appearing to pressure a transit officer to specifically target black men has just been released by Gawker. The recording was provided to the New York Daily News for a story released in January, but the actual audio was not released to the public until now. Although the full recording is 36 minutes long, only a two-minute excerpt has been released.
By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet – Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton are teaming up with the NYPD to request high levels of funding for a federal “counter-terror” program that is directly bankrolling the militarization of police forces nationwide. To secure the funds, they are invoking the threat of terrorism and exploiting the climate of fear and incitement that has come to define the 2016 election cycle. At issue is the the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), which was created in 2003 as a Department of Homeland Security grant program aimed at assisting “high-threat, high-density Urban Areas…
By Josmar Trujillo for FAIR – Last week, New York City police officers arrested four well-known activists for filming them. Copwatchers—people who regularly film and document police activity—have often been targeted by cops who don’t want to be recorded, despite reminders that recording police interactions is legal in the city. While legal protections for filming police are still unclear in some parts of the country, the invaluable role that copwatchers play as journalists—acting as the eyes, ears and media of the streets—deserves to be recognized.
By Lia Eustachewich for New York Post – A federal grand jury will not be convened to weigh criminal charges in the police-involved shooting death of Bronx teen Ramarley Graham, officials announced Tuesday in closing the 2012 case. US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office had been investigating since 2014 whether Graham’s civil rights were violated – but concluded there was “insufficient evidence to meet the high burden of proof required for a federal criminal civil rights prosecution.”
By Staff of Mint Press News – On Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton urged state legislators to consider increasing the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony. The change, he argued, would help New Yorkers “get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can’t.” It would also give cops an easy way to turn victims of their own worst impulses into the worst class of criminal. In theory, a resisting arrest charge allows the state to further punish suspects who endanger the safety of police officers as they’re being apprehended…
By Luna Olavarría Gallegos for The Indypendent – “Yeah, I knew what I was recording, but I didn’t think he was going to die.” This is how Ramsey Orta responds when I ask him what was going through his head when he shot the video of Eric Garner’s death. Orta tells me that just a week before, he had filmed a video of his friend getting beat up by the cops on the same Staten Island block where Garner was choked by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. It has been eighteen months since the world watched the scene unfold through Orta’s cellphone and just over a year since a grand jury declined to indict Officer Pantaleo, and still, Orta is not able to keep the incident in the past…
By Sarah Ryley for ProPublica and the New York Daily News – A wide swath of public officials are calling for change in response to a Daily News and ProPublica investigation about the NYPD’s use of an obscure type of lawsuit to boot hundreds of people from homes. The cases are happening almost exclusively in minority neighborhoods. Several city council members said they were considering amendments and other reforms to safeguard abuses. Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson said the statistics included in the story are “shocking.”
By George Joseph for The Guardian – Contracts between police and city authorities, leaked after hackers breached the website of the country’s biggest law enforcement union, contain guarantees that disciplinary records and complaints made against officers are kept secret or even destroyed. A Guardian analysis of dozens of contracts obtained from the servers of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) found that more than a third featured clauses allowing – and often mandating – the destruction of records of civilian complaints, departmental investigations, or disciplinary actions after a negotiated period of time.