The NYPD is going undercover to spy on #BlackLivesMatter protesters

NYPD
(Image credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images)

Police brutality protesters in New York City may have undercover police in their midst, according to documents obtained by The Intercept following a request made through New York's Freedom of Information Law. The files indicate that from December 2014 through February of this year, NYPD officers disguised themselves as activists to infiltrate #BlackLivesMatter protests, often keeping tabs — including photo documentation — on the movements of specific protesters.

"I think it's just another example of how anyone who is practicing their constitutional rights and speaking against the government is going to be considered a domestic problem," said Jose LaSalle, a police accountability activist who was mentioned in the surveillance documents. "It's sad we have to be targets of surveillance when we're not committing crimes."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has suggested that this undercover spying likely violates New York City's Handschu Decree, the result of a 1985 court ruling which prohibits police from keeping "information gathered from public events unless it's connected to suspected criminal or terrorist activity." The documents repeatedly refer to the #BlackLivesMatter events as "orderly" and "peaceful" while simultaneously claiming the surveillance is "deterring, detecting, and preventing terrorism."

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.