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City Cannot Keep Materials From Republican National Convention Secret, Federal Court Rules

In litigation filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging the mass arrests and detentions during the 2004 Republican National Convention, a federal judge today rejected New York City’s effort to shield from public view voluminous materials about the NYPD’s policing of the Convention.

In a sweeping decision, federal judge James C. Francis IV ruled that the NYCLU is free to make public extensive NYPD documents, deposition testimony, and videotapes about all aspects of the Convention, including mass arrests, conditions at Pier 57, and various policies deployed by the Department during the Convention.

“The public has an important interest in knowing what was behind the NYPD’s mass arrest and detention of protesters during the Convention,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who is lead counsel on the NYCLU’s Convention cases. “Now that the federal court has rightly recognized that the NYPD’s Convention actions cannot be kept secret, we look forward to sharing these materials with the public.”

The NYCLU filed two lawsuits in October 2004 challenging mass arrest, prolonged detention, and fingerprinting of Convention protesters. In pre-trial discovery, it has collected thousands of pages of city documents, has taken sworn testimony of many high-level Department officials, and has obtained many NYPD videotapes taken of protest activity. When the City attempted to prevent the NYCLU from making this material public, the NYCLU challenged that. That challenged led to today’s ruling.

“It’s been said that democracy dies behind closed doors,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We intend to keep it alive. We will continue to fight efforts by the government to hide its actions from pubic view.”

The NYCLU intends to make public the Convention materials covered by today’s ruling as soon as possible.

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