Blog of Rights

Is the NYPD Watching You?

By Arthur Eisenberg, New York Civil Liberties Union at 5:26pm

In recent weeks, we've read about NYPD surveillance of student groups, community-based organizations and even small businesses. Press accounts show that the Police Department has spied on people up and down the eastern seaboard, not because they're engaged in wrongdoing, but because of their religion, national origin and their political associations.

Just today, the Associated Press reported that undercover NYPD officers have infiltrated progressive political groups nationwide and compiled files on people engaged in political advocacy. The police department conducted similar spying in the run up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in Manhattan.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is cocounsel in a long-standing lawsuit intended to stop the NYPD from maintaining dossiers on individuals and political or religious groups unless the police have reason to believe that unlawful activity had taken place or was about to take place. The recent revelations about NYPD surveillance practices strongly suggest that the NYPD is in violation of the 1984 consent order. Consequently, the NYCLU is in court again to enforce the terms of the decree.

New York has a long, proud history of robust political dissent. Since the days of the Red Squads when police intelligence units used to infiltrate political groups solely for being critical of the government, the NYCLU and the ACLU have defended the right to dissent by exposing police surveillance practices and police dossiers on lawful associational activities. It now appears that the NYPD is not only pursuing its surveillance practices in New York City but has extended such practices to other states and regions of the country. The ACLU, the NYCLU, and affiliates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut are all working to secure political and religious freedom and to curtail NYPD surveillance practices that will undermine our freedom to dissent.

Visit www.nyclu.org/SpyFiles and learn how to file a Freedom of Information request today.

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