The New York police department also collected ‘multimedia records’ of protests after the death of Eric Garner, legal papers show.
These are potential constitutional violations by the police.
“The fear and disarming effect caused by undercovers being assigned to what were and continue to be extraordinarily peaceful protests is disturbing,” said MJ Williams, one of the attorneys involved in the records request. “To the extent that it would influence individuals not to participate and get individuals to censor what they say because of a fear of undercovers – that’s a basis for a first amendment violation.”
She added: “As someone who was present at the protests, it’s disturbing to know the NYPD may have a file on me, ready to be used or to prevent me from getting a job simply because I’ve been active in some political capacity. That’s potentially a fourth amendment violation for unlawful seizure, but on the other hand, we’ve seen law enforcement agencies have all sorts of justifications for data collection for public safety that the courts have allowed.”
In addition, the police reports indicate that the protests were peaceful, and orderly, so they really had no justification to be infiltrating them.