Communities United for Police Reform and Justice Committee Respond to CCRB Report on Hundreds of New Yorkers Prevented from Filming NYPD by Officer Misconduct

In response to a report released by the CCRB documenting hundreds of complaints and instances where NYPD officers interfered with New Yorkers’ First Amendment rights to document policing activity during the first 3 years of the de Blasio administration, Communities United for Police Reform and the Justice Committee released the following statements.

“It’s important for New Yorkers to protect one another and hold the police accountable by observing and documenting police abuse through Cop Watch activities. This report shows that NYPD officers continue to block civilians’ First Amendment rights to record public police activity during the de Blasio administration, despite an August 2014 memo reminding officers against such interference,” said Lumumba Bandele, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. “Officers are interfering with New Yorkers’ rights to record through physical force, intimidation, the destruction and confiscation of filming devices and footage, and retaliatory summonses and unlawful arrests. In a number of substantiated cases, officers lied and gave false statements about their own or witnessed misconduct, including improper summonses and arrests, and video from civilians was the only way to prove that the initial account put forward by the NYPD was false. This highlights the increasing importance of civilians recording police activity, especially given the NYPD’s disastrous, one-sided body camera policy that lacks transparency and helps protect abusive officers. It’s yet another clear example of how memos, patrol guide language, training, and rhetoric don’t change the reality for New Yorkers in communities without serious accountability for police misconduct. New Yorkers should continue to exercise their right to CopWatch and the CCRB and NYPD must bring swift and meaningful discipline against officers engaged in such misconduct.”

“The continued interference by NYPD officers in New Yorkers’ Constitutional right to record policing encounters contradicts the NYPD’s multi-million dollar propaganda campaign, demonstrating that rhetoric and Madison Avenue advertising don’t equal change for communities impacted by abusive policing,” said Loyda Colon, a spokesperson for the Justice Committee, an organization that trains and organizes Cop Watch teams. “Cop Watch is a vital tool for New Yorkers to help hold the NYPD accountable and the persistent attacks by officers against this right makes clear that officers believe they are above the law. The lack of accountability and leadership to protect New Yorkers from police abuses and brutality is what allows this behavior by NYPD officers to continue during the de Blasio administration. Community members should keep protecting each other by continuing to record officers in their communities through the practice of Cop Watch.”


About Communities United for Police Reform

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.

CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.

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Topics: CopWatch