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NYCLU Calls On Mayor Bloomberg To Take Stand On Mass Arrests At Republican National Convention

In response to reports earlier this week that the NYPD is gearing up to arrest 1,000 people a day during upcoming Republican National Convention, the NYCLU yesterday wrote to Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanding that he take action to protect the right of peaceful protest during the Convention. A copy of the letter is attached.

The NYCLU represents many groups seeking to engage in protest activity during the Convention. As is true with virtually all groups holding demonstrations in New York City, these groups are seeking to hold lawful events with appropriate permits.

In its letter to Mayor Bloomberg, the NYCLU expressed the concern that Police Department statements about mass arrests are “irresponsible and do nothing more than create a wholly unnecessary atmosphere of tension surrounding Convention protests.” According to the letter, “If the Department chooses to highlight potential disorder and conflict with police officers, law-abiding organizations are intimidated, and many people of goodwill will become fearful of attending the event.” The letter also pointed out that “hostile statements from high-level officials about an event convey to officers who actually police the event an attitude that produces excessive and unnecessary conflict.”

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said, “We have every reason to believe that the Convention protests will be lawful and peaceful. Threats of mass arrests by the NYPD can do little but intimidate people from exercising their First Amendment rights this summer.” Dunn added, “We recognize that a small number of people may commit civil disobedience or other more serious offenses, but the NYPD cannot be permitted to use the actions of a few to serve as a justification for a broad crackdown on the large-scale peaceful and lawful protest activity scheduled to take place during the Convention. Mayor Bloomberg needs to step into this issue.”

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