New York State Attorney General Letitia James sued the New York Police Department on Thursday over what she said were widespread abuses in how officers handled protests that erupted last summer after the killing of George Floyd, reports the New York Times. James wants a court-appointed monitor to oversee policing tactics at future protests and a court order that the policies and practices the department used during the protests last May and June were unlawful. James said the suit marked the first time that the state attorney general has sued a police department.
More than 2,000 demonstrators were arrested, most of them while protesting peacefully. James’s office found that police beat protesters with batons, rammed them with bicycles, used a dangerous containment strategy called kettling, and arrested legal observers and medics without proper justification. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the lawsuit would slow his administration’s efforts to implement major changes. “A court process and the added bureaucracy of a federal monitor will not speed up this work,” he said. John Miller, deputy police commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence, said the lawsuit does not show a “pattern and practice” required by federal law for a monitor to be appointed. Attorneys general rarely use their powers against entire police departments. De Blasio and James are both Democrats, though the city’s top two police officials, Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan, have registered as Republicans.