NYPD officers were prepared to make mass arrests during the Gays Against Bush march on 29 Aug. 2004 in Union Square. During the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD made unlawful arrests of journalists, legal observers, and others -- violations of civil liberties repeated again in 2012 and 2020, without consequence. Progress New York/File Photograph

Top Federal attorney in charge of enforcing First Amendment rights and civil liberties ducks responsibility over deliberate NYPD arrests of legal observers

The NYPD have a pattern or practise of unlawfully arresting legal observers during the George Floyd protests, Occupy Wall Street, and the 2004 RNC.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman has skirted oversight of the NYPD’s misconduct.

By Progress New York Staff

Updated 12 June 2020 10:00 The New York Police Department deliberately targeted legal observers for what has in the past been described as unlawful arrests, this time during the notorious police crackdown of a George Floyd protest rally in the Bronx on the evening of 4 June 2020, a news report confirms. In a recounting of events, one NYPD Legal Bureau officer advised police officers last week that “Legal Observers can be arrested, you’re good to go,” and another police officer instructed cops to roundup “all the green hats,” according to a report published by Gothamist. Legal observers, usually civil rights and civil liberties attorneys, monitor political demonstrations for police abuses of power, and they typically wear bright or neon green caps for easy identification.

Mass arrests that fail to individually determine probable cause for arrest were deemed unlawful in a 2012 U.S. District Court ruling, noted a Gothamist report of that time then. Since the NYPD appeared to have made mass arrests or specifically targeted legal observers may raise anew the issue of a failure to determine individual probable cause.

The George Floyd protests have attracted the involvement of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to a report published by the New York Post. As reported by Progress New York, whenever law enforcement are deployed in connection with issues related to national security, the law enforcement agents must consult with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of that jurisdiction, so that oversight can ensure that “public confidence is maintained,” according to the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Domestic FBI Operations. Given the guidelines and the jurisdiction, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s southern district was in a supervisory role over the NYPD.

For this report, the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman refused to answer questions from the press.

There appears to be a culture of retaliation in law enforcement that is countenanced by Federal prosecutors.

After Ramsey Orta filmed NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo apply an unlawful chokehold on Eric Garner in 2014 that resulted in what the City’s medical examiner ruled a homicide, the police allegedly commenced a non-stop harassment campaign against Mr. Orta. Despite laws against witness tampering or witness retaliation, Federal authorities, who never charged Mr. Pantaleo with any crimes, never acknowledged or announced any investigation into the alleged NYPD harassment against Mr. Orta, raising questions about whether Federal prosecutors countenance a culture of retaliation within the NYPD.

After it was reported that Chiara de Blasio, the daughter of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City), had been arrested in one of the recent protests against racism and police brutality, a police union leaked part of her arrest record on Twitter in what the New York Times described as a privacy breach, the “latest flash point in a bitter feud between the mayor and the union.” As a result of the doxxing incident, the police union’s Twitter account was suspended.

In 2014, it was reported by the New York Daily News that the chief of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau called a detective a “rat” for reporting police misconduct. Later that same year, Borough President Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn), a former NYPD captain, told the Reuters news service that IAB would leak the names of police officers, who filed misconduct complaints, leaving no real outlet to report police abuse.

Progress New York has reported that U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, with jurisdiction in Brooklyn, has countenanced allegations of police misconduct in Cadman Plaza, a park outside his headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn, during George Floyd-inspired protests.