In a ruling issued late Monday afternoon, a federal judge has ordered the NYPD to produce 2,000 pages of documents to the New York Civil Liberties Union concerning the Police Department’s undercover infiltration of protest groups during the 2004 Republican National Convention.
“Today’s ruling will force the NYPD at long last to come clean about its nationwide surveillance of protesters before the 2004 Convention,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn. “We believe these documents will show that, contrary to the NYPD’s claims, protesters were coming to New York City not to engage in violence but to engage in peaceful protest.”
The ruling arises from two federal lawsuits the NYCLU filed challenging the mass arrest, prolonged detention and blanket fingerprinting of 1,800 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. Federal judges have three times rejected that claim.
“The right to political protest is one of our nation’s founding liberties,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. “Because of our victory today, we will finally get to know the depth and breadth of the NYPD’s massive spying dragnet prior to the RNC.”