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Letter: NYCLU Assesses Giuliani Administration

An abridged version of this letter appeared in the January 1, 2002 issue of the New York Times.

To the Editor:

An assessment of the Giuliani mayoralty should encompass the whole record. During his tenure, the NYCLU went to court in 34 separate cases to challenge the city’s violations of First Amendment rights.

In nearly every case, the courts rejected the city’s policies including: the firing of Police Officer Yvette Walton in retaliation for testifying before the City Council about racial profiling; the attempt to censor the Sensations exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum; the ban on press conferences and demonstrations by Giuliani critics on the steps of city hall; the ban on condoms as part of AIDS education in City Parks. Occasionally, after being sued, the City agreed to reverse the offending policy as with the one that singled out political demonstrators charged with minor offenses so that they could not get appearance tickets to return to court and often had to stay in jail overnight.

And lest we think these transgressions were a pre-September 11 phenomenon, only last week, a federal court rejected the Giuliani administrations violation of religious freedom and ordered an end to police harassment of homeless people sleeping on the steps of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

We hope that our new Mayor and the newly elected City Council will put an end to the egregious First Amendment violations that were so pervasive during the last 8 years.


Donna Lieberman
Executive Director

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