As George W. Bush flew out of New York City just before midnight on Thursday September 2, 2004 and the final demonstration drew to a close, the focus shifted from the politics inside and the protests outside Madison Square Garden to assessing the actions of law enforcement agencies, particularly the New York Police Department (NYPD). Because the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) represented the organizers of virtually every major Convention demonstration, the NYCLU was deeply involved in permit negotiations. It also successfully sued the NYPD over demonstration policing tactics, and ran a major project monitoring the NYPD's policing of Convention protests. As a result, the NYCLU has a unique and comprehensive perspective on how the government handled the Convention protests.
In this report, the NYCLU documents the important events leading up to the Convention, the swirl of activity surrounding the Convention, and its aftermath. Focusing primarily on the NYPD, the NYCLU concludes that the Department performed many of its duties well during the Convention while respecting the right to free speech, and the NYCLU commends the Department for those actions. At the same time, this report documents many troubling NYPD actions and makes a series of specific recommendations for changes in NYPD practices to assure that similar problems do not arise at future large-scale demonstrations.
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