Recommendations in our complaint which we requested be issued by the Inspector General to the Mayor, Police Commissioner and the City Council .
To show a clean break from the past, we need to expose fully policies and practices that have not worked, have harmed civil liberties, have undermined fundamental rights, and have damaged communities of people committed to improving our country and its governance.
On the heels of the City’s announcement that it had disbanded the Demographics Unit, which was caught illegally using CIA training to spy on Muslims, other New Yorkers who did business with them, and students across the region who attended colleges also attended by Muslim students, the New York Times editorial page declared: “Having dispensed with the unit, Mr. Bratton as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio must now deal with the underlying problem: the Police Department’s longstanding tendency to trample on people’s rights during investigations of groups engaged in political activities.”
We recognize that many of the same unlawful and abusive tactics that have been used by the FBI, CIA, and the NYPD — including invasive surveillance, infiltration, and sting operations using agents provocateur to target Arab, Middle-Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities across the US — have also been used by the NYPD in targeting political activists.
Complainants request that the Inspector General:
- Investigate the NYPD, its Intelligence Division, and their partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, and private sector contractors and craft recommendations to Mayor and the City Council to protect constitutional rights and prevent recurring abuses.
- Conduct a full audit of NYPD surveillance programs, practices, and other policies which have been used to harass, investigate, intimidate, or prosecute dissenters, including political advocates, environmentalists and human rights activists for the last two decades.
- Provide the public with a full accounting of the scope of any such programs, practices, and policies, as well as their targets, their costs (in regular police hours and overtime pay), and their origins and claims for lawful mandate.
- Included in this public disclosure must be a full description of the training which officers undergo before being tasked with monitoring political activists, including any and all characterization of political activists in documents or other training materials used.
- Fully investigate the media strategies deployed by the NYPD brass against activists, as these pervert public perception of political activists. The investigation should result in a full report to the public on how strategies were developed; what they cost to develop and which parties – public or private – helped form them; how they characterize political activists targets of police actions; and what law enforcement purpose is served through the deployment of such strategies.• The audit must include a complete itemization of NYPD costs for policing demonstrations; what formulas, if any, inform deployment of police resources to monitor demonstrations (including police officers, police horses, police cars, pens or other materials or personnel that restrict movement); and what precautions, if any, are taken as a matter of policy or custom to ensure that the constitutional rights of political activists are respected.
- Conduct a full investigation of the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department and other Divisions or groups within the Department (Intelligence Division et al) whose purpose is to surveil, infiltrate, record the meetings of political activists or otherwise disrupt their unencumbered enjoyment of free association. The investigation must obtain and publicize the following information about the Intelligence Division et al:
* When it/they was/were formed;
* Whether it/they inherited files from any predecessor divisions within the NYPD or other government bodies;
all statutory and policy guidance used to guide and shape its/their practices;
* How materials it/they collected were stored and on which activist groups, and how political activists are placed on such lists or removed from them;
* With which other local, state, federal and foreign police or other government agencies, if any, it shared this information;
* What safeguards it took to ensure that investigations were not opened without individualized suspicion that a particular crime had been previously committed and, if it did not take such precautions, what laws, legal guidance, statutes, and/or other legal authorities it considered to limit its investigations;
* Its procedure for closing such investigations;
* How information collected about political activists is stored, shared, distributed and what procedures exist to expunge those accumulated datum or otherwise to allow activists, whose names or organizations might exist in such files to contest the contents of those materials informing police work against them.
* What portion of the police budget funds the maintenance of these lists.
- Recommend the expungement of all police records collected by the unconstitutional surveillance of religious and political activities, including a legally binding and privately enforceable commitment to securing the expungement of records provided to the FBI, DHS, CIA or any other Federal agency, foreign government, or private sector party.
- Recommend a transparent process of engagement with each affected community on repairing negative consequences of such surveillance.
- Recommend effective penalties established in law, sufficiently significant to discourage repetition of offenses to be consistently applied to Department officials who break laws protecting political activists from unlawful investigation, harassment, infiltration and the collection and/or retention of information about them or their organizations. Where such laws do not yet exist or do not provide necessary clarity about red lines, Complainants request that the Inspector General make clear the need for penalties and/or private rights of action against the officers, the department or relevant policymakers to serve as a suitable deterrent for what appears to be recidivist lawlessness on the part of the New York Police Department and its facilitators/supporters in this behavior.
- Given the recividist behavior by the Department, its history of targeting political activists, infiltrating their meetings and assemblies, and suppressing public gatherings, the IG should recommend restricting existing authorized practices, including the authorization to go anywhere the public may go. It is clear that NYPD officers are not sufficiently trained to properly assess the civil rights of political activists. As a result, their attendance at meetings of political activists must only be allowed when there is a reasonable suspicion that a crime might be, or is in the process of being committed. Such suspicions should be articulated in writing, where possible, to a commanding officer who will provide written authorization for such attendance as allows the officer to respond to potential criminal activity.
* Recommend that the numbers of police officers authorized to attend public gatherings balance the likelihood that their presence will deter law-abiding participants, and be proportional to the realistic and articulated threat of disturbances of a serious criminal nature at such gatherings.
- Finally, the Inspector General should promptly evaluate whether the Handschu Settlement, which was operative while these clearly abusive practices took place, must be strengthened, supplemented or replaced with stronger and more enforceable legal protections, guidance and laws to protect political activists.