NYPD Releases All 2004 RNC-Related Documents

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Legal Issues, Political Challenges


The NYPD decided not to appeal a judge’s decision that the NYPD should declassify its surveillance documents from the 2004 RNC, so it has set up a special NYPD RNC Documents website with the documents. Of course, you have to scroll down to the very bottom for a zip file of the 600 pages of documents. And what’s above the documents is the NYPD’s rather thorough explanation/ defense justifying why it did such extensive surveillance of disparate groups and people, listing various terror incidents between 2001 and the convention as well as other incidents of protest. Here is Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s statement:

“I think a close examination of the documents is going to show that the New York City Police Department did an outstanding job in protecting the City during the Republican National Convention. People wanted to come here and shut down the City, to replicate what happened in Seattle, Montreal and Genoa. We simply didn’t let that happen, and I think it’ll just underscore the outstanding work of the men and women of the Department. In terms of gathering information, the vast majority of information that was gathered was open-source information. It was gathered from the Internet; these groups that were coming here were advertising what they were going to do “” bragging about what they were going to do. It wasn’t particularly difficult to get the vast majority of this information.”

Good to know that the NYPD is watching all of us, including MSNBC and the Sierra Club. The NY Times has all the documents plus highlights which people and/or groups were mentioned in the documents. Here are but a few:

ACT UP, Sierra Club, City Council members (Charles Barron, David Weprin, Bill Perkins), Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Johnny Cash Bloc, MSNBC, A31 Coalition, NYCLU, NOW, Planned Parenthood, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Stuyvesant High School Students, Westboro Baptist Church, Indymedia, Democratic National Committee, Coalition of Fire and Police Unions, Grandmothers Against War, Falun Gong, Arab Muslim American Foundation, Time’s Up, Billionaires For Bush, United for Peace and Justice, The Surveillance Camera Players, ACLU, Hip Hop Summit Action Network, The Federation of East Village Artists, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Restaurant Opportunity Center of New York

The NYCLU’s executive director Donna Lieberman said, “These documents paint a picture of a surveillance program that was broad, clumsy, and often unlawful. The NYPD failed to differentiate between unlawful behavior and behavior that is not only lawful but should in fact be cherished and protected. Today the public can finally bear witness to that failure.” The NYCLU also offers an index of the groups monitored as well as the documents released yesterday, plus others previously released.

And City Councilman Charles Barron told the NY Times’ Sewell Chan, “First of all, I”™m going to be getting some legal advice. I”™m not going to let this go. This is ridiculous that you would spy on democratic, legal, political activity. This smacks of former fascism. It certainly is selective spying. It is absurd that people in this city can”™t exercise their constitutional right to protest without being spied on by the police.”

Photograph by ireallylovecake on Flickr

   Originally by Jen Chung from Gothamist on May 17, 2007