Big Brother Was Watching

NYPD Spy Tactics Exposed: Democracy Now! Airs Exclusive Police Surveillance Footage Recorded From Blimps, Helicopters and “Lipstick Cams” During Republican National Convention

On Thursday a federal judge has ordered the New York Police Department to stop videotaping innocent protesters at political demonstrations. The judge ruled the police have repeatedly violated what is known as the Handschu guidelines that dictate how the police carries out political investigations. Today we broadcast never-before-aired police spy video that show how the police conducted widespread surveillance during the Republican National Convention in 2004. [includes rush transcript] A major ruling restricting police surveillance of public gatherings was just handed down in a Federal court in New York. On Thursday, Judge Charles Haight ruled that police must stop the routine videotaping of people at public gatherings unless there was an indication that unlawful activity may occur. This was the same judge who, after September 11th and at the request of City officials, had given the New York City Police Department greater authority to investigate political, social and religious groups.

In the ruling, the judge cited two events that the police videotaped — a march in Harlem and a demonstration by homeless people in front of the Upper East Side home of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Judge called the police behavior “egregious” – stating that there was no reason to suspect that the participants were involved in unlawful behavior.

Lawyers involved in the case said that not only is the ruling a victory in itself, but that it would make it possible to contest other surveillance tactics, including the use of undercover officers at political gatherings.

* Martin Stolar, longtime civil rights attorney in New York City who has worked on the Handschu case since 1971.

* Eileen Clancy, member of I-Witness Video, a project that assembled hundreds of videotapes shot during the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Read and listen to all of it here.

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