Members of Black Lives Matter appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday to demand the NYPD release information on how it monitored protests on high-profile police-involved deaths.
Protesters said the NYPD used undercover surveillance at the demonstrations over the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island and shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
The group argues that the NYPD bow to a Freedom of Information law request to release details of any surveillance of protests that took place in Grand Central Terminal between November 2014 and November 2015.
So far, the NYPD has refused to hand over the documents.
“State law says the NYPD can’t operate in secret — the NYPD has to disclose what it’s doing,” said attorney David Thompson. “But the NYPD completely refused to obey that law so we had to file this lawsuit.”
Thompson called the refusal to turn over the information a “failure of the NYPD in this case to deal honestly and forthrightly with its obligations under FOIL.”
Among the reasons for denying the request, the NYPD said providing the information would “would interfere with law enforcement investigations” and “identify confidential sources.”
During the hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court, Thompson said the excuse shows that the NYPD is treating Black Lives Matter “the same as ISIS or the Bonanno crime family. “
“You won’t find any mention of an actual criminal investigation,” Thompson said. “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.”
Judge Manuel Mendez is expected to render a decision in the next few weeks.
The NYPD did not return a request for comment Wednesday.
The city refuted Thompson’s allegations, claiming the case was simply a request for documents — nothing more.
“It’s really beyond the scope of this proceeding and improper,” city attorney Lesly Mbaye said. “(The) petitioner wants to make this a political case, as they said today — it’s a FOIL case.”