An open letter to State Legislatures (NY only)

NYPD / Media Collaboration Concerns

20 so far! Let’s get to 25 signers!
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I am contacting you regarding the New York Police Department’s continued collaboration with the media to violate the privacy and civil rights of protesters who have not been convicted of any crime. I believe you will find these patterns and recent escalations troubling. After making arrests at protests, the NYPD quickly collects certain information from protesters. This is gathered in ways that are both obvious (legal name, address, DOB, charges) and less so (information discussed on phone calls, information culled from social media). The NYPD then leaks this information to right-wing tabloids, notorious for their extreme bias, inaccurate coverage, and sensationalist headlines (most frequently the NY Post). This has led to numerous articles since the Summer of 2020 that seek to position your constituents exercising their First Amendment rights as “outside agitators." At least fifteen protesters have had their full legal names, ages, and areas of residence shared. On some occasions, mugshots were leaked as well. Recently, details of an arrestee's personal phone call have appeared in articles as well as entire smear campaign regarding lawsuits and arrest warrants that do not exist. These continued leaks/doxxes of protesters not only constitute an extrajudicial punishment of folks whose cases are frequently dismissed entirely, but demonstrate a concerning willingness by the NYPD to put people in danger by any number of means including bad actors such as the far right or loss of jobs/income/housing. Familial connections between journalists whose names repeatedly appear on these stories and members of the NYPD also point to concerning abuses of authority.  Current legislation from the 2019 NYS budget says that publication of this private information is allowed if “in the public interest.” This has allowed the NYPD and NY Post / their cohorts to get away with intimidation and harassment for far too long. These gaps in media and privacy law that endanger those fighting for racial justice ultimately serve as a repression technique that is truly alarming.  I ask you to look at these techniques employed by the NYPD and consider what you and your colleagues can do to close these gaps in the law so your constituents are protected while exercising their First Amendment rights. Thank you for your time.

First sent on May 31 by Protect the Protesters

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