City council members and journalists are among those behind a federal lawsuit filed this week against the New York City Police Department (NYPD). They are asking for federal oversight of the NYPD in regards to the department’s alleged violations of 1st Amendment rights, according to the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press (RCFP).
The suit lists Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a number of individual officers, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It alleges that the city, through the department, has allowed police to infringe upon the 1st Amendment rights of the people.
Plaintiffs on the suit currently number a dozen, though more may be added. Among those are four city council members and journalists. One council member was beaten by the police during the Occupy protests at Zucotti Park, this, he says, despite his compliance with their orders.
In addition to federal oversight, the suit seeks monetary damages.
To the objection of Mayor Bloomberg, in the past, the City Council has tried to get oversight of the police department. The Mayor and a N.Y. appellate court believed this would undercut the mayor’s authority over the NYPD.
The plaintiffs in the suit believe litigation is necessary to solve the problem and to get an outside and objective control on what they see as obvious constitutional violations that are currently going unchecked.
The NYPD is no stranger to controversy. One merely has to look through this blog to find several examples of police and the department being embroiled in hot-button issues. The Occupy movement brought several issues within the department and specific officers’ behaviors to light.
Officers weren’t only accused of stifling peoples’ rights to speak and protest, but of excessive force and general mistreatment, this as they doled out disorderly conduct charges left and right.
In scenarios like the Occupy protests, where there are hundreds and even thousands of people exercising their rights in one place, it’s probably a little understandable that the police would feel overwhelmed. However, feeling overwhelmed and acting on the feeling by cuffing anyone who makes a misstep across a protest line or calls an officer a name seems a little excessive and evidence that they have lost control of their own level-headedness.
Your constitutional rights can only be taken away in extreme circumstances, and even when they are lawfully removed, you still maintain many of them. (For instance, you could be incarcerated but you still enjoy the protection against cruel and unusual punishment).
It is your defense lawyers job to help ensure your constitutional rights are protected when you are within the criminal justice system. If the police infringed upon your rights during the arrest stage, your entire case could be thrown out.
If you are charged with a crime after an encounter with the NYPD and you have questions about your options and your rights, contact us today.