Back to All Press Release

In Response To Demand From NYCLU, Police Department To Halt Interrogating Protesters About Political Activity

In response to a demand made by the NYCLU earlier this week, the NYPD yesterday agreed to halt a recently implemented secret program of interrogating protesters about their political affiliations and prior demonstration activity. Under that program, which had been in effect at least since the large February 15 antiwar rally, the NYPD had forced hundreds of protesters charged with minor offenses to surrender information about their political affiliations and prior protest activity. That information was being collected on a recently disclosed form entitled “Criminal Intelligence Division / Demonstration Debriefing Form.”

In a letter sent on Tuesday to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the NYCLU informed the City that it had received many reports of protesters being taken to Police Headquarters after being charged with minor offenses (like blocking a sidewalk) and then being interrogated about their political activities. The letter explained that the reports received by the NYCLU indicate that those arrested had not been advised of their right to counsel, that requests to see counsel were ignored or met with threats of prolonged detention, and that lawyers seeking access to those being interrogated were kept outside One Police Plaza. A copy of the letter is attached. The NYCLU learned late yesterday that the NYPD would halt the interrogations.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said, “As a city and a nation, we are at crossroads about civil liberties. The City’s initiation of these interrogations reveals how willing government is to abandon basic First Amendment values in these difficult times, while the City’s reversal of its position shows that New Yorkers can successfully defend their civil liberties.”

Lieberman added, “Compiling police dossiers about peaceful protest activity and lawful political associations is wrong and opens the door to serious police abuse. Though we are pleased that the Department has agreed to halt these interrogations, they should never have started in the first place and they raise troubling questions about the Police Department’s respect for lawful, political activity.”

Click here to read the NYCLU’s letter to NYPD Commissioner Kelly.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union