NYCLU Criticizes Proposal to Expand NYPD Control Over Protest Activity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK — The New York Civil Liberties Union today criticized a New York City Police Department plan to expand police control over protest activity, pledging to call on the New York City Council to block the proposed regulations if the plan is not abandoned.
“This proposal will suffocate spontaneous protest activity and inevitably lead to police micromanagement of sidewalk protests,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “It is completely at odds with New York City’s proud tradition of free expression, and if the police department insists on moving forward with it then we will ask the city council to block it.”
The proposed regulations would dramatically expand the NYPD definition of a parade to include any group of 35 or more people wishing to march on a public sidewalk or any group of 20 or more people wishing to ride or drive on pubic streets. According to the proposal that was published quietly by the police department on Monday, groups meeting this definition would have to obtain a permit from the police. Sidewalk marches and lawful vehicle processions are activities that have never required permits before.
“This would be a dramatic and unnecessary expansion of police control over protest activity,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn. “Requiring groups that are doing nothing more than walking on public sidewalks to obtain police permits will suppress protest activity and lead to wholly unnecessary conflict between police and protesters.”
The NYCLU has a long history of representing groups that conduct sidewalk marches or lawful vehicle or bicycle processions. If new rules forced people to obtain permits, those groups y would have to negotiate the details of their events with police officials and would face the risk of arrest if they did not agree to law enforcement demands. In many cases, the NYCLU believes, the groups would abandon their protest plans rather than face the risk of arrest.
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