A Manhattan judge has ordered the NYPD to disclose records pertaining to undercover surveillance footage of Black Lives Matter protests following the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, reports The New York Daily.
Protestor James Logue filed public records request for the video and audio footage shot by NYPD officers of the crowds during two Grand Central Terminal protests in 2014 and 2015.
Logan claimed during the rallies that he “observed both uniformed and plainclothes police officers regularly and openly recording events as they were taking place.” He added, “The surveillance violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Prior to the court order, the NYPD refused to comply with the request, arguing that disclosing any records would obstruct its ability to perform police work.
NYPD assistant intelligence chief John Donahue reportedly gave the argument that releasing the records could expose details of ongoing terrorism investigations or connections to the Islamic State.
On Wednesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez dismissed Donahue’s claims and gave this statement about his ruling:
“[Donahue’s] speculative and conclusive claims of potential related ongoing investigations of incidents against police officers, both in New York and outside of the state and generalized references to use of materials by the ISIS or ISIL terrorists, fail to provide a causal connection to the protesters and are insufficient to state a generic risk.” Mendez also stated that the NYPD made “blanket assertions and fail[ed] to particularize or distinguish their surveillance or undercover techniques and records.”
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) February 8, 2017
The story of NYPD’s undercover surveillance footage originally broke in September after the department responded to the petition indicating that it had multimedia records, metadata, and recorded conversations between officers.
The NYPD has a long history of using surveillance programs in an effort to combat terrorism. Law enforcement departments across the nation have increased surveillance measures in response to the rise in Black Lives Matter protests and to bring awareness to incidents of police violence.
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