In a letter to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the FBI has asked the NYCLU to assist in a criminal civil rights investigation into the New York City Police Department's arrest of protesters during the Republican National Convention.

The NYCLU, which has filed federal lawsuits challenging mass arrests during the Convention, the prolonged detention of protesters charged with the most minor of offenses, and the fingerprinting of all protesters, has agreed to assist in the investigation.

The FBI discloses that it is conducting the FBI's criminal investigation just one week after the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an official agency of the City of New York, reported that hundreds of Convention protesters may have been unnecessarily and unlawfully arrested because NYPD officials failed to give adequate orders to disperse and failed to afford protesters a reasonable opportunity to disperse. In a letter to the CCRB, Commissioner Kelly angrily rejected the CCRB's report.

"Commissioner Kelly may have thought he could ignore complaints from the civil rights community and even the Civilian Complaint Review Board about Convention arrests, but we doubt he can ignore the FBI," said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, to whom the letter was addressed. "We have clear evidence that hundreds of protesters were unlawfully arrested during the Convention, and we look forward to assisting the FBI with its criminal investigation.”

The most dramatic example of potentially criminal misconduct arose from the mass arrest of nearly 400 people during a demonstration near Union Square. Criminal court complaints filed by a high-level NYPD official claimed that group was arrested only after being given an order to disperse and refusing to disperse, but that official admitted recently in sworn testimony that no one gave such an order. The NYCLU, which has sued over this mass arrest, will ask the FBI to include this incident and other incidents in its criminal investigation.

Further reading:

  • The FBI's letter to the NYCLU *
  • The NYCLU's letter to Commissioner Kelly *
  • Commissioner Kelly's letter to the CCRB *
  • The CCRB's letter to Commissioner Kelly *

* These letters require the free Adobe Reader.