A federal judge has ordered New York City to turn over to the New York Civil Liberties Union hundreds of intelligence documents related to the NYPD’s treatment of protestors arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV rejected claims that disclosure of the documents would compromise law enforcement concerns and ordered the NYPD to produce the documents, which include hundreds of field intelligence reports by undercover investigators who infiltrated protest groups. The ruling affirms Judge Francis’ August 2007 decision rejecting attempts to conceal the intelligence documents.
“We are getting closer to knowing the truth behind the absurdly harsh police tactics at the 2004 RNC,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. “We will pursue this until the full truth behind the NYPD’s political surveillance program is revealed.” Wednesday’s ruling arises from two federal lawsuits the NYCLU filed challenging the mass arrest, prolonged detention and blanket fingerprinting of nearly 2,000 convention protestors.
The NYPD has claimed that its harsh treatment of protestors was justified by information it obtained from its surveillance operation. The Department has refused to disclose documents detailing that information to the NYCLU, claiming that their disclosure would compromise ongoing investigations and other law-enforcement concerns. Judge Francis twice has rejected that claim.
“This ruling does not require the disclosure of sensitive law-enforcement information, but it does force the City to turn over documents identifying the groups the NYPD spied on and what information was gathered as a result of that spying,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn. "We believe these documents will prove that the NYPD’s harsh treatment of protestors during the Convention was utterly unjustified.”