N.Y. Attorney General Sues N.Y.P.D. Over Protests and Demands Monitor – The New York Times


Letitia James says the police have used illegal and harmful tactics for years, and wants a federal monitor to oversee the department’s tactics at future demonstrations.




New York Attorney General Sues N.Y.P.D. Over Handling of Protests

Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, sued the New York City Police Department and Mayor Bill de Blasio for a “pattern of using excessive force,” against peaceful protesters.

My office filed a lawsuit against the mayor of the city of New York, the city of New York and the leadership of N.Y.P.D. to end its pattern of using excessive force and making false arrests against New Yorkers during largely peaceful protest. In our lawsuit, we outlined years of the N.Y.P.D.’s illegal and harmful conduct against New Yorkers, and most recently at protests that began this past May, which has led to significant injuries and violated individuals’ basic rights to peacefully protest. We found that over the course of the protests from May to December of 2020, N.Y.P.D. officers engaged in blatant use of excessive force and often misconduct, including the indiscriminate, unjustified and repeated use of batons, pepper spray, bicycles and a crowd-control tactic known as kettling — also referred to as containment — which caused significant physical harm. We also found that N.Y.P.D. officers unlawfully detained and arrested legal observers, medics and other essential workers. This lawsuit seeks broad injunctive relief, including systemic reforms to the N.Y.P.D. and a monitor to oversee the N.Y.P.D.’s compliance with the law and policing practices in future protest. We are also seeking an order from the court, declaring that N.Y.P.D.’s response to protesters were, in fact, unlawful and in violation of their First, their Fourth and 14th constitutional rights.

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Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, sued the New York City Police Department and Mayor Bill de Blasio for a “pattern of using excessive force,” against peaceful protesters.CreditCredit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Ashley Southall

The New York State attorney general sued the New York City Police Department on Thursday over what she said were widespread abuses in how officers handled the protests that erupted last summer after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The attorney general, Letitia James, wants a federal monitor to oversee the department’s policing tactics at future protests, and a court order to declare that the policies and practices the department used during the protests last year were unlawful.

An investigation by the attorney general’s office found that police officers beat protesters with batons and bicycles, used a dangerous containment strategy called kettling, and arrested legal observers and medics.

The Police Department, the city’s Law Department and a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio did not immediately return emails seeking comment about the lawsuit.

At a news conference on Thursday, Ms. James said the tactics demonstrated a pattern of illegal and harmful practices that the mayor and Police Department had failed to prevent through discipline, policies and training.

“There was ample ability and opportunity for the city and N.Y.P.D. leadership to make important changes to the way that officers interact with peaceful protesters, but time and time again, they did not,” Ms. James said. “They did not train, they did not supervise, they did not stop officers who engaged in this misconduct. And they did not discipline them either. Instead, they failed the people of the City of New York.”

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