Papers Detail New York Police Strategy In Demonstrations


In internal reports made yesterday as part of a lawsuit, New York City police commanders discuss how they had successfully used “proactive arrests,” covert surveillance, and psychological tactics at political demonstrations in 2002, and recommend that those approaches be employed at future gatherings, the New York Times reports. Among the most effective strategies, one captain wrote, was the seizure of demonstrators who were described as “obviously potential rioters.” The reports provide a rare glimpse of internal police evaluations and strategies on security and free speech issues that have provoked sharp debate between city officials and political demonstrators since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

The reports also made clear what the police have yet to discuss publicly: that the department uses undercover officers to infiltrate political gatherings and monitor behavior. One draft recommends, “Utilize undercover officers to distribute misinformation within the crowds.” but police spokesman Paul Browne said that the department “does not use police officers in any capacity to distribute misinformation.” Many issues in lawsuit, which challenges broad police tactics and arrest strategies, resonate in well over a hundred other lawsuits brought against the city by demonstrators who were arrested at war protests, bicycle rallies, and during the Republican National Convention.


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