FILE PHOTO: New York Police Department (NYPD) officers detain a demonstrator inside of an area being called the “City Hall Autonomous Zone” that had been established to protest the New York Police Department and in support of “Black Lives Matter” near City Hall in lower Manhattan, in New York City, U.S., July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo


New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the New York Police Department Thursday, calling the department’s treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors part of a pattern of abuse due to inadequate training, supervision and discipline.

James filed the lawsuit following investigations into civil rights abuses by officers during protests in 2020. The lawsuit alleges the police used batons and other force against protestors, causing serious injuries against many who were not charged with a crime. Others were arrested without probable cause, including people serving as medics and legal observers. James seeks a court-appointed monitor to manage an overhaul of NYPD practices at large demonstrations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terry Monahan were named in the lawsuit alongside the NYPD. James outlined a long history of bad policing at protests that included anti-war rallies in 2003, the Republican National Convention in 2004 and Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. The suit also cited a 2015 report from the NYPD inspector general concluding the use-of-force policy was “vague and imprecise.” The lawsuit marks the first time the state attorney general has sued a police department, according to James’ office.

De Blasio said in a statement that the city and attorney general have a common goal to reform the police, though he will oppose the placement of a monitor because “a federal monitor will not speed up this work. There is no time to waste and we will continue to press forward.” The NYPD agreed that a monitor would slow the process.

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the police officer’s union, placed blame on the mayor’s office for the mishandled response.

“What we witnessed in June was a failure of New York City’s leadership,” Lynch said. “They sent cops out to police unprecedented protests and violent riots with no plan, no strategy and no support.”

The nationwide police response to protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement last summer was widely criticized by the left, while the right placed the blame of escalating violence on protestors, specifically Antifa. Data from the U.S. Crisis Monitor spanning 13,000 protests since April 2020 showed police are three times as likely to use force against left-wing protestors than right-wing protestors. Human Rights Watch investigated the NYPD’s use of excessive force, including a tactic called “kettling” – officers preventing protestors from moving forward while other officers pushed the protestors forward from behind – at a June 2020 protest in the Bronx. The September report found that the police response to that protest was “intentional, planned, and unjustified.”


This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

New York Attorney General Sues NYPD Over ‘Excessive, Brutal’ Force Against Peaceful Protesters – Forbes – 1/14/2021
New York State Attorney General Letitia James sued the New York City Police Department and its leadership Thursday, claiming that the NYPD “repeatedly and blatantly” violated the rights of New Yorkers by using excessive force to quell nonviolent protests during demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd, calling it part of a “longstanding pattern of abuse.”

AG Letitia James Files Suit Against NYPD for Excessive Force During Protests – Black Enterprise – 1/14/2021
In the complaint, Attorney General James specifies the NYPD’s illegal and harmful conduct against New Yorkers who engaged peacefully during recent racial justice protests. It has been proved for years that the actions of NYPD officers has led to significant injuries and violated individuals’ basic right to peacefully protest. […] The entities and people named are charged with failing to address this “longstanding pattern of abuse by not properly training, supervising, and disciplining officers to prevent misconduct, despite knowledge and public admission that it violated the rights of New Yorkers.”

NY Attorney General Sues NYPD for Monitor, Citing ‘Excessive Force’ – Breitbart – 1/14/2021
New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the city of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea on Thursday to put a monitor in place for the police department. The reason for the lawsuit aiming to monitor the NYPD’s activities stems from allegations of civil rights abuses, especially alleged use of excessive force by officers at protests over George Floyd’s death last year, CNBC reported. “No one is above the law — not even the individuals charged with enforcing it,” James said Thursday.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James Sues NYPD For Abusive Tactics Used During George Floyd Protests – Blavity – 1/14/2021
Last month, New York’s Department of Investigation released a loaded report condemning the department for overlooking not having a “clearly defined strategy” in its intervention at citywide protests sparked by Floyd’s death, The New York Post reported. An investigation led by the attorney general’s office discovered that NY officers abused people by bashing them with batons and bicycles, and employed a risky containment strategy called kettling against protesters. Police officers were also found in the report to have arrested legal observers and medics, per The New York Times. 

‘Concerning And Unlawful Practices’: Letitia James Sues NYPD In Landmark Suit Over Handling Of Black Lives Matter Protests – NewsOne – 1/14/2021
Since the onset of the pandemic New Yorkers have taken to the streets to protest the sudden and violent deaths of Black community members, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Additional protests were also held to hold space for the violence perpetrated against like Black trans persons who are killed at the hands of their community members and the police. But what ensued in response from local law enforcement was the preparation of violence, through the use of excessive force. Videos captured officers driving department vehicles into droves of protesters, using physical force with batons and hand-to-body contact to slam them to the pavement.

Rochester Reacts to AG Suing NYPD Over Excessive Force Allegations – Spectrum Local News – 1/14/2021
“It’s certainly disappointing, you know, the NYPD is one of the most respected police departments in the world. They’re on the forefront of new and innovative techniques,” said Patrick Phelan, executive director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police. Some of those techniques used during the summer protests are what’s in question from the attorney general, calling some excessive. The executive director for the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said these are all “untrue allegations” about excessive force being used by officers in New York City.


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