Yesterday, the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) released a report on hundreds of complaints and incidents of NYPD officers interfering in civilians’ Constitutional rights to film public police activity during the first 3 years of the de Blasio administration. Such interference by officers to block New Yorkers observing and documenting policing, the practice known as CopWatch, constitutes misconduct. (A copy of the report can be found here)
NYPD interference and misconduct cited in the CCRB report include:
- Attempts to block filming of police interactions by the public, including physical interference and use of force, blocking recordings, knocking recording devices out of the hands of person(s) filming, and intimidation/threats
- Unlawful searches, unlawfully reviewing/deleting recordings, damage to/destruction of filming devices, and taking recording devices from people filming
- Retaliation by officers by issuing false summonses, unlawfully detaining people, false arrests and charges
- Lying and false statements by officers — In a number of cases substantiated by the CCRB, there were numerous examples of lying and false statements by officers who engaged in above misconduct and officers who witnessed the misconduct. Available video from the public and civilian witnesses were often the only ways to prove that the version of events initially put forward by the NYPD was false — including justifications by NYPD officers for false summons/arrests.
This is an important report from CCRB and helps to validate the concerns that many individual Cop Watchers and Cop Watch teams from Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) member/partner organizations have raised for years. The report also reaffirms what we all know as the critical role that individuals play when observing, documenting and recording police misconduct and violence. Here is CPR’s statement on the report: http://bit.ly/2sVDWMN
- Remember – It’s legal to #FilmThePolice and #CopWatch. Observing, documenting and filming police activity and abuse is a key tactic that CPR has supported and promoted since our founding.
- Lineage — Collectively, we owe so much to Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) for the lineage of #CopWatch training that many NYC CPR members have gone through, even before there was a CPR. MXGM also had one of the longest-standing #CopWatch teams in the City. And, of course, the lineage extends back to former Black Panther Party members and other activists in the Black Liberation Movement.
So much love and appreciation for Justice Committee and MXGM leaders/members who have continued, updated and expanded the training that traces back to MXGM original curriculum — and built a citywide #CopWatch Alliance. Many many folks in NYC have been trained by extension from these trainings.