Inside the Special NYPD Unit That’s Brutalizing Protesters

The NYPD's Strategic Response Group or the SRG is a notoriously violent rapid response unit. Despite promises from the department that the unit would not be deployed at protests, the SRG has consistently threatened, attacked, and arrested protesters.

The NYPD’s Strategic Response Group or the SRG is a notoriously violent rapid response unit. Despite promises from the department that the unit would not be deployed at protests, the SRG has consistently threatened, attacked, and arrested protesters. Time and time again, when the SRG arrives on the scene, officers escalate situations and injure New Yorkers who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

Since we recorded this episode, the NYCLU, the Legal Aid Society and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a sweeping settlement agreement that could help transform the way the NYPD polices protests. The settlement – which must still be approved by a judge before it can go into effect – is designed to reduce the presence of police at protests and to lessen the kinds of harms that officers often cause at demonstrations. The settlement does this through a tiered system that dictates when, how many, and which kinds of officers can be sent to protests. Importantly, under the agreement, the NYPD will only be allowed to deploy the SRG under certain conditions. We hope this will cut down on misconduct, violence, and unjustified detentions. But, While the settlement should reduce the role the Strategic Response Group plays in protests, we know that the only way to put an end to the SRG’s abuse is to put an end to the unit itself. We will continue to fight to disband the SRG and reinvest its estimated $133 Million in funds into our communities. And until that happens, this episode is as relevant as ever.


[00:00:00] Simon: The NYPD Strategic Response Group, or the SRG, is a notoriously violent rapid response unit. Despite promises from the department that the unit would not be deployed at protests, the SRG has consistently threatened, attacked, and arrested protesters. Time and time again, when the SRG arrives on the scene, officers escalate situations and injure New Yorkers who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

Since we recorded this episode, the NYCLU, the Legal Aid Society, and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a sweeping settlement agreement that could help transform the way the NYPD polices protests. The settlement, which must be approved by a judge before it can go into effect, is designed to reduce the presence of police at protests until it lessens the kinds of harms that officers often cause at demonstrations.

The settlement does this through a tiered system that dictates when, how many, and which kinds of officers can be sent to protests. Importantly, under the agreement, the NYPD will only be allowed to deploy the SRG under certain conditions. We hope this will cut down on misconduct, violence, and unjustified detentions.

But, while the settlement should reduce the role the Strategic Response Group plays in protests, we know that the only way to put an end to the SRG’s abuse is to put an end to the unit itself. We will continue to fight to disband the SRG and reinvest its estimated 133 million in funds into our communities.

And until that happens, this episode provides a window into one of the most vicious aspects of NYPD protest policing.

Just a quick note before we start the show, as we regularly note when we have outside guests, Alex Clavering is speaking in his personal capacity and not as a spokesperson for the NYCLU. Okay, on with the show.

Welcome to Rights This Way, a podcast from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New York State. I’m Simon McCormack, Senior Staff Writer at the NYCLU and your host for this podcast, which is focused on the civil rights and liberties issues that impact New Yorkers most.

And now I’m joined by two guests, making her triumphant return to Rights This Way is Isabelle Leyva, a Senior Organizer with the NYCLU. And Alex Clavering is a public defender in New York City.

Isabelle and Alex, welcome to Rights This Way.

[00:02:34] Alex: Thank you. Thank you for that kind introduction.

[00:02:37] Simon: No problem. Isabelle I actually just want to start with you. Can you tell us what the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group is?

[00:02:46] Isabelle: Sure. The NYPD Strategic Response Group, known as the SRG, is a rapid response unit of the NYPD that was founded in 2015 as a counterterrorism unit and very quickly morphed into the protest policing unit that we know it as today. If you watch coverage of the 2020 uprising and a lot of the brutality that we saw on the ground there, the SRG was really central to that and continues to be central to the brutality of protests across New York City.

[00:03:17] Simon: if you could just kind of talk about their formation, their history, and kind of like what the NYPD sort of officials said the SRG was going to be, and then kind of what it has become.

[00:03:29] Isabelle: Yeah. So, when the SRG was created in 2015, it was basically created in response to recent terror events that had happened in other parts of the world. Basically, under the guise of bolstering New York City’s counterterrorism response in the event of something happening. So, that they were announced in 2015 and they were announced as a unit that would both do counter terror and then also engage in protest policing. Advocates immediately spoke out about that saying how problematic it is to have a unit doing both of those things and to really link protests and terrorism in any way. And the NYPD actually pretty immediately retracted the SRG’s involvement in protests and said that the unit would only be doing counter terror. And only a few weeks, months later it was deployed to protest in the wake of the killing of Freddie Gray and really has been a staple in protests ever since.

[00:04:22] Simon: And so, right, so the NYPD sort of quickly broke its promise, and we are where we are here and we’ll get into some of the, some of the SRGs abuse and damage in a bit here. First though, Alex, I wanted to kind of ask you about, your experience with regards to the SRG and, and how you came to learn about the unit.

[00:04:44] Alex: Yeah, I actually came to know about the SRG partially through the New York Civil Liberties Union, because you guys have done a great job raising awareness about, uh, their abuses and what they’ve been doing. And I also have a lot of friends who are very active in, um, New York City activist spaces with certain organizations that find themselves up against the SRG often at protests.

So, in 2020, during the kind of George Floyd uprising and protests that were going on, I knew a lot of people who were out in the streets at different actions who were facing directly with officers who at the time I don’t think they realized were the SRG, but effectively it seems ,uh, duplicative to say that they’re a militarized force when the NYPD itself is so hyper militarized, but the SRG especially the weapons and the tactics and strategies that they utilize are particularly violent. I heard stories from the people that I represent directly who are poor people and a lot of people that live on the street, they’re dealing with your kind of run of the mill NYPD officers who also in their own way can be, violent and intrusive on people’s lives and also breaking all these kind of rules that they’re supposed to be following.

[00:06:06] Simon: Yeah, let me set this up, I guess. If you could kind of lay out a bit more about the dichotomy Alex is kind of mentioning here where you have NYPD police officers, we’ve certainly the NYCLU has the been a part of lawsuits over plenty of just, you know, average beat cop officer behavior, but what makes your typical NYPD officer different from an SRG officer?

[00:06:32] Isabelle: Yeah, I think that’s a good question. And I think we want to be really clear when we talk about the SRG that this is not some like unique force that is particularly bad that is separate from the NYPD. The SRG is really just a manifestation of the NYPD’s worst qualities and behavior. And part of the way that happens is because the SRG is voluntary.

So, this is a unit of officers that sign up to join the SRG. And the reporting from the inside, there have been sources from inside the NYPD that have said that this basically attracts officers that are looking for more action. And the way that manifests in who makes up this unit is that it’s a lot of officers that have very lengthy misconduct records already before joining the SRG. So, the median complaint rate for officers in the SRG is six and the median complaint rate for officers at large is three.

So, we see in the data that these officers are more inclined to involve themselves in misconduct, to behave in these ways that we see the SRG really trained to do.

[00:07:39] Simon: Okay, that is very helpful to lay out that difference. Thank you, Isabelleand I also just want to tell listeners, and we’ll put a link to this in the chat, but the stats Isabelle is mentioning come from the NYCLU Civilian Complaint Review Board database. The Civilian Complaint Review Board is the agency charged with investigating NYPD misconduct. And so, we actually have a database where you can actually search certain officers. That’s where those stats are generated from. And Alex, I’m curious if we could talk in terms in particular about protests, like what things happen in terms of arrests at protests and what are people kind of facing?

[00:08:22] Alex: Yeah, I mean, I think when we’re talking generally about what people are looking at at sort of like a run of the mill protest or things that we’ve seen in the last couple years, the stuff that people typically get charged with is like, failure to disperse, which, you know, the police are supposed to make it known when people have to disperse, they’re supposed to give, you know, them notice and time to get out of an area, but unfortunately something that you see sometimes and you hear people complain about is, is kettling, which is when basically they’re corralled into an area so that police can do mass arrests, and I believe that recently there was a pretty large settlement from the city to the tune of several million dollars for some of the protesters who actually were kettled and like, very badly hurt or pepper sprayed and this extreme use of force that happened again during these protests during 2020. But, you know, there will be things like violating orders to disperse violating curfew or emergency orders if those exist which happens sometimes when there’s a lot of stuff going on and there are a lot of people on the street during maybe like, a nationals, some kind of event that’s happening where there are a lot of people out protesting or just sort of like blocking traffic, you know, you’re always allowed, obviously, to march on a sidewalk or at least you’re supposed to be able to but you’re not supposed to block, you know, pedestrian traffic or street traffic.

So, they could pick you up for those things. And I think the thing you have to realize as a person who’s going to a protest is that, especially, like, in today’s climate and the way things are and the relationship generally that police have with the public, which is not a great one, you are putting yourself at risk of arrest by going but I think that it’s important to recognize that you can beat the rap, but not the ride is what some lawyers say, which means that, you know, police will sometimes arrest a bunch of people who weren’t even necessarily doing anything wrong, or maybe you weren’t doing anything wrong and you get caught up in it, or whatever, but inside of that moment they do not care and they do not care for what your rights are, and even though of course you have those rights, that is something that is going to be fought Later in court by your attorney, if it comes to that, you know, if it gets to that place, but also I know a lot of people sometimes get arrested at protests and they kind of get cut loose later.

Maybe the worst thing they’re facing is a disorderly conduct, which is a violation, but I also don’t want to give people a false sense of safety and security, especially because, like, so many bad things happen out there and I think it’s important for people to realize that especially now, you know, they’re coming for people who are at protests.

People are getting federal charges for property damage because they didn’t realize, and they threw paint on something that now comes with a federal charge related to destruction of property. They’re raising the stakes in terms of law enforcement. They don’t want people out here occupying spaces and making noise. They really don’t.

[00:11:26] Simon: Yeah. Right. That is unfortunate because I think it is good to be aware of that. Certainly. And think that’s a perfectly fair thing to, to, have people know before they come out to protest, but it is unfortunate and sad that people who are just going about exercising their First Amendment rights are faced with that, knowing that, as you said, they do have those rights, but that may not stop them from being falsely arrested or improperly arrested. Even physically harmed.

[00:11:57] Alex: Yeah, and you know, I think people listening to this probably have some understanding of this and, like, I don’t ever want to scare people or suggest that they shouldn’t go out and express themselves, absolutely they should. I’m just very conservative in my outlook on these things and my understandings about how abusive and dangerous law enforcement can be and I think a way that you can protect yourself is just by being aware of some of these things, you know, like it’s good to have that awareness of what’s happening and what people are experiencing especially with things like the SRG.

[00:12:34] Simon: Absolutely, absolutely. The NYCLU is definitely in favor of people going out and exercising their, their First Amendment rights, just to, just to be clear.

[00:12:42] Alex: Please go out.

[00:12:44] Simon: And I, I did just want to quickly, cause Alex mentioned earlier a recent settlement, the NYPD paid out 13 million dollars to 1,380 protests related to the 2020 protests. There are other lawsuits related to their conduct. So, that’s a sort of a bittersweet thing, right? Because it’s good that protesters are at least getting some level of compensation, but that money is our money. That money comes out of taxpayer dollars.

It doesn’t come out of any, you know, NYPD officers salary or what have you. And I want to turn to you, Isabel, because you have, seen the SRG up close many times in your work for the NYCLU. What, what is that experience like? Like, take us on the ground for that.

[00:13:30] Isabelle: Yeah, I think, so I’ve experienced the SRG both as a protester and as someone who’s there in a monitoring capacity with the goal of documenting police conduct. And I would say that something that I think everyone that is on the ground regularly knows is that as soon as the SRG is there everyone, all of the protesters know what that means.

And that’s why when we talk about the SRG being an escalatory force, just them showing up means that we know that the NYPD is planning for potential mass arrests. We know that the likelihood of people getting hurt is higher and we know that we need to protect each other, that people need to have a plan of action in case of arrest.

So, I’ll just give an example of a protest pretty recently. And that was around the killing of Jordan Neely. There was basically a week, two-week period where there were a lot of protests being scheduled all across the city and the SRG was the escalatory force at every single one of those protests that ended in arrest.

I was at a vigil for Jordan Neely that was scheduled, it was at the subway station where he was killed and it was a vigil that was on the median between, you know, two roadways. People were lighting candles. It was very calm and the NYPD leadership. So, people in white shirts, the top kind of people in command of the action, went in and started like talking to, hassling the organizers of the event that were speaking before you know it SRG is descending from all sides in their full gear, and they are ripping people off of the median for arrest. So, we saw there was someone that was loaded into a van. This picture went kind of viral online with a bloody face. These moments go from total calm to complete chaos. And even being someone who’s not in the mix of it, my job is to watch and observe.

No one is safe. So, that’s why people that are on the ground are so it’s not fear. It’s just knowledge of what could happen and what will likely happen. And it really is, it’s so chaotic and it can be like that even when there are only 15 protesters, right?

They don’t discriminate based on how big the protest is. They often will discriminate based on what the subject is, right? A racial justice protest. There was a lot of dialogue around like the failure of the city to support our unhoused population. Policing was tied into all of that messaging. So, the SRG showed up ready for battle to those protests.

[00:16:08] Simon: So, Alex, given what Isabelle has laid out and the that the SRG tends to escalate things, tends to make things more tense and more chaotic. What’s your advice for anyone at a protest where SRG is present? And then also, just generally, what would you say to people heading out for a protest?

[00:16:28] Alex: I think an important thing to keep in mind is that when we’re talking about your rights at a protest and just your rights generally when dealing with the police there is the abstract concept of what your rights are that you can fight for in a court and, you know, in front of a judge or in front of a jury of your peers and also in the context of a civil suit and then there are the practical realities of what’s going to happen on the street when you’re at a protest and dealing directly with the police that and obviously you are able to be on a sidewalk, as long as you’re not blocking pedestrian traffic.

And you can have signs. You can be handing out flyers. These are fundamental rights that have been protected, you know, by the Supreme Court. But, you know, even if you follow those rules, uh, it’s totally possible that the police will issue a dispersal order, but again, this is a type of situation where they need to provide clear notice to the protesters.

They need to give people an opportunity to disperse, which they don’t always do. And that’s, that’s a situation you may find yourself in. And you, you also obviously have, you are not so obviously because some people don’t know this and also the police lie very frequently, but you do have a right to photograph the police.

You do have a right to take out your phone and video them I think it’s actually a really positive thing that people do this now because a lot of the time when there are a lot of people photographing and videoing the police, sometimes they get scared, and they kind of back away from situations, or they get away from people because they realize that they’re being, you know, filmed and watched.

They are not allowed to, you know, come up and take your phone, and, or tell you to delete something, they can’t do that stuff, that again is, that’s a thing that’s protected by the U. S. Constitution, it’s this, you know, big problem for them. But, realistically speaking, you know, when you’re dealing directly with the cop, a lot of them don’t know the law, at all or they just make things up but you’re dealing with somebody who, in that situation, may realistically have more power than you, there may be more of them, they are literally armed, they’ll try to separate, you know, people from one another so that they can arrest them or so that they can intimidate them.

But a police officer is always required by law to, to identify themselves, to tell you their name, their rank, their command, a reason that you’re being stopped. And you know, the question that I always tell people to try to remember in their head is the, am I being detained? Am I being detained? Right?

Because they’re not allowed to detain you. They need a basis for the stop that’s happening, and you can also, you know, tell them that you don’t consent to any searches that they can’t search your property, and you don’t have to carry identification with you. This is also a thing cops make up.

They’re like, well, where’s your ID? Yeah, you don’t have to have it. They actually passed a law in New York for this exact purpose for, for a lot of like small petty things that you could just get a desk appearance ticket where you could come to court. They don’t actually need your ID for that.

But again, they’ll lie to your face and say this. And even if you’re somebody who knows the law, like hypothetically me, your neighborhood public defender, I also know that sometimes you’re going to get harassed by the cops and sometimes they don’t care. And sometimes they’re going to arrest a bunch of people, plenty of whom,

you know, should not be arrested. I’ve had clients in the past who were the only arrest charge that they had was resisting arrest. How are you resisting a lawful arrest? And that’s the only thing you’re charging me with. How was I lawfully arrested, right? It’s a bogus charge. And guess what?

I got that charge dismissed, but my client still had to go sit in jail for a night. But I guess the most important thing is limit your interactions with the cops. Don’t talk to them. You don’t have to. It’s your right not to. People at protests like to write down NLG’s the National Lawyers Guild’s phone number on their arms. If you go to any protest, people are going to know that number. There’s probably going to be legal observers there in green hats or in other hats from different legal observers, maybe from New York Civil Liberties Union will have their own legal observers there. Maybe in orange hats, I think. But I think that’s the difficulty.

That’s the hard thing about giving the advice. And this isn’t legal advice. I’m not your attorney, but I think it’s just important to recognize that inside of those moments, your power is limited. And like, your power actually comes later in a court of law where your lawyer can fight it for you, or you can maybe sue, like, these other people in terms of their settlement for all the abuse that they faced.

It’s just unfortunate that it takes this process where your rights may very well be violated in between that period of time.

[00:21:02] Simon: Right. Um, Isabel, what color are our hats?

[00:21:06] Isabelle: We wear blue. Blue vests and blue hats.

[00:21:09] Simon: And Alex, is there any further again, not legal advice, but any sort of information you’d, you’d want people to know as far as like, in particular, like if someone is arrested.

[00:21:19] Alex: I mean. Everybody knows you have, well, technically everybody knows that you have the right to remain silent, but sometimes, based on the things that have happened to people that I’ve represented, people seem to forget that they have the right to remain silent. I understand it can be very stressful, and a lot of times people have this tendency to say, no, no, no, I didn’t do anything actually, let me explain, or, you know, and they want to talk themselves out of it.

You’re not going to talk yourself out of it, so please just get that out of your head, like, if you do get arrested, you get taken into custody, just keep your mouth shut, I want my lawyer, I don’t want to talk to anybody, I want my lawyer to represent me. And also, that’s kind of sticky too, because there’s this case where the guy said, I want my lawyer dawg, and they said that he didn’t actually invoke his right to counsel, because maybe he wanted his, his dog, or like, that’s a real case, that’s, I promise that’s a real case, you can look it up.

So, you have to be very explicit, you know, I want my, I want my lawyer. I don’t want to talk to you. But there are bail funds that exist to help people out and you should never consent to the police, you know, taking your DNA without a court order, you know, swabbing your mouth, anything like that, and really, you shouldn’t drink or smoke or chew gum,

if you’re in police custody. I know this sounds crazy, but like, they actually will take that stuff, you know, maybe in certain situations, test it, see if it brings anything up and also if you do get, like, protective gear, and you’re in custody, you can ask, you know, to keep that, like, you don’t want to let them have that. You don’t want to just give them things that they might be able to potentially use against you, you know, in the future.

And believe me, if they can, they will. So, I think that’s like, a very Important thing to realize. And then I would just add, if you feel that your rights have been violated it’s very important to write down everything that happened as soon as possible. Everything you can remember about the officer, about the incident, their badges, their patrol car numbers.

If you can get information for witnesses who saw it firsthand. If you’re injured to take photographs of those injuries and to also, if you are injured, get medical treatment right away. Like you want this to be documented. You want to have medical records. And then, once you have all of this information you can actually file a complaint with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Division or the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

It’s very easy to do that. You can do it online. And if you want to do a civil claim, and this is also really important, if you want to pursue a civil claim against the police, do it as soon as possible. Because people don’t realize that the statute of limitations on a lot of these things, if it is even possible, are very, very, very short.

Um, so, sometimes people have very legitimate claims for something messed up that happened to them, but they’re like, oh, I don’t know and it happened, you know, a year ago or whatever. And then all of a sudden, this claim is in the wind basically. It’s just, it’s a good thing to know.

[00:24:13] Simon: Yeah, that is all good to know. And Isabel, I want to ask you, I want to talk about the SRG and what it costs New Yorkers, not just in terms of the rights that are violated by SRG officers and about the stifling of free speech, but also like dollar costs. How much the SRG’s budget is and then also, if you could talk about our campaign to actually disband the SRG and disperse its funding to real public safety solutions.

[00:24:46] Isabelle: Yeah. Before I do that, do you mind if I just add something quickly to what Alex was saying?

[00:24:51] Simon: Definitely.

[00:24:52] Isabelle: Yeah. I just wanted; I really relate to the struggle of telling people their rights while knowing how the police operate. And that often like even you saying the things that you’re supposed to say, don’t change anything about what’s happening.

I think like, practically, things, if you’re going to a protest specifically. Never ever have your face ID or your fingerprint as the, the lock on your phone. I have personally seen officers use, hold up people’s phone to their face after being arrested at a protest to unlock it. Communicate with people on encrypted apps like signal, make sure that someone knows where you are.

Someone who isn’t at the protest knows where you are. Typically, in New York City at protests, jail support is coordinated by the organizers. So, there usually are people waiting outside of wherever you’re taken, waiting for release. And for the most part, there’s not a bail that’s necessary.

Typically, it’s like DATs, you get desk appearance tickets, but the biggest thing that I tell people is that the only thing that you can control is you. If you’re in a situation, like I’ve seen people be piled on by five officers. If you are moving around and could cause yourself more injury.

The reality is that you don’t know how long you’re going to be in a van. We’ve seen people in vans for six hours. I’ve spoken to people that had concussions and were sitting in vans, needed medical attention. You have no idea how long it’s gonna be from the moment that you’re arrested to the moment that you get to go home, the moment that you get to go to a hospital.

So, whatever you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible is the advice to me. That’s kind of the bottom line of being in a protest space because in reality, the police are not there to keep you safe, in any space, but especially in these spaces. So that’s just what I would add to that in terms of things you can practically do on the ground. And then in terms of the SRG’s cost, the estimated cost is 133 million dollars a year and that number does not include things like overtime, equipment costs, the number is probably larger than that. And really we launched this campaign in January of 2022 and then really full force advocated around this through 2023.

The New York City budget process just ended in the beginning of July. And the goal of this campaign is it really stemmed from being on the ground. So, we launched our protest monitoring program or relaunched in June of 2020. And we’ve been documenting police conduct at protests and very quickly saw the SRG as kind of the catalyst for the violence that we were seeing.

And then we started digging into what this unit was. We found out about their history, that they were a counterterrorism unit, how little transparency there is around the SRG. So, we launched this campaign and the demand is to disband the SRG, but not just disband the SRG the way that a lot of units are disbanded in police forces across the country where they’re just recreated under another name and given the same tools and given the same mission, our goal is to actually remove the funds from the hands of the NYPD altogether and to reinvest those funds into our communities. We think that there are far better uses for this money for New Yorkers that are struggling, for systems and programs that actually keep us safe. The SRG is not doing that. So, that is kind of our broad campaign goal and we’ve been working towards that.

And I will say just on the transparency note, we’ve had multiple hearings over this last budget process where hundreds of members of the public showed up to testify about the SRG calling for the disbandment. The NYPD up to today has refused to answer any questions about the SRG. Even though this unit is now being deployed to 20 precincts across New York City that are considered high crime, they will not go on record answering questions.

So not only is this unit perpetuating harm, but we also know very little about how it’s actually functioning.

[00:28:46] Simon: And Isabelle, correct me if I’m wrong, but the NYPD stated reason for not talking about SRG is that they claim they’re under a gag order. But that’s not true. Is that right?

[00:28:57] Isabelle: There’s no gag order.

[00:28:58] Simon: Yeah, so just, I wanna point out that as Isabelle is talking about, you know, the amount of money that the SRG is costing New Yorkers. We’re talking as more than 100, 000 unhoused people are in the city’s shelters. There are asylum seekers lined up and sleeping on sidewalks next to the Roosevelt Hotel. I mean, that’s just one of the city’s myriad real Issues that requires money and attention and coordination and resources broadly speaking, to me, that’s something that I think about when I think about things like the SRG that we’ve just spent a good chunk of time talking about that actively harm New Yorkers perform, at absolute best, superfluous tasks that are carried out by other units, you know, the real problems continue to mount. With that little rant, I want to ask Isabel, if people want to join our campaign to disband SRG, what can they do?

[00:29:56] Isabelle: So, you can visit the NYCLU’s website and go to the SRG campaign page and get involved that way. I’m sure we’ll put the link in some description of this somewhere. We have a really robust group of volunteers that do all kinds of things for the campaign. And our goal is really to center people in community and people that have been impacted by the SRG.

So, this campaign is really made up of New Yorkers that care about this and are willing to put in the time, however much you have, to help get this done and get the SRG off our streets.

I think often we talk about the SRG in the context of protests. This is not just a protest issue. The SRG is a threat to all of us. Like I said, the SRG is now deployed to 20 precincts, and these communities are primarily communities of color. And when we know that the SRG has a problem with racial bias, when we know that the SRG targets black and brown people for arrest, that’s a concern, right? And we should all care about this issue. And you were speaking about all of the myriad of issues that we need to be dealing with in the city. One of them is being our unhoused population that needs support.

The SRG has been involved in sweeping encampments since Eric Adams launched his whole mission to sweep encampments across the city, right? So it’s everybody’s problem. This unit really can be deployed whenever, however, with no oversight. So, I just want to emphasize that, if you’ve never been to a protest, this still matters to you.

It should matter to everybody that lives in this city.

[00:31:24] Alex: Yeah. I would just add, don’t talk to the cops, keep going to protests. There are lots of people who will protect you in the event that you do get into a bad situation and who are looking out for you, including your fellow protesters at those protests, and then maybe later on, and hopefully not people like me.

And I would just agree that there are about a million things that are better to fund than this, you know, and we’re talking about people living on the street. A lot of my clients that live on the street in part because the shelter system is in such disarray.

And even the people who are in the shelters don’t want to be there because of how terrible those places can be and dangerous. So, there are just so many other better funding priorities than this thing, which is harming communities and people and stifling people’s ability to make themselves heard.

So yeah, don’t talk to the cops, please.

[00:32:20] Simon: And with that I want to thank you, Alex, and Isabelle, so much for being on Rights This Way.

[00:32:25] Isabelle: Thank you.

[00:32:26] Alex: Thanks so much.