This Wednesday, members of the New York chapter of Black Lives Matter appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court to demand that the NYPD release information on when and how they monitored the group's protests. Attorneys for the group have filed a Freedom of Information Law request to force NYPD officials to disclose details of any surveillance of BLM protests at Grand Central Station in 2014 and 2015.
Last year, The Intercept uncovered documents confirming that undercover cops attended numerous BLM protests over the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The documents also revealed that the NYPD were keeping photos of individual activists as well as monitoring them and tracking their movements.
“State law says the NYPD can’t operate in secret — the NYPD has to disclose what it's doing,” said David Thompson, attorney for BLM. “But the NYPD completely refused to obey that law so we had to file this lawsuit.” Thompson called the NYPD's refusal to turn over the documents a failure “to deal honestly and forthrightly with its obligations under FOIL.”
The NYPD has refused to turn over any relevant documents, claiming that doing so would “interfere with law enforcement investigations” and “identify confidential sources.” Thompson also said “You won’t find any mention of an actual criminal investigation. There’s no crime here. What we have is the NYPD which is being criticized by Black Lives Matter. In return, the NYPD was engaged in a political response of surveilling their critics.”