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New York sues NYPD over alleged 'pattern' of excessive force during peaceful protests

New York Attorney General Letitia James has launched a lawsuit against the NYPD and its alleged misconduct during protests.

In a complaint filed Thursday, James, on behalf of the state, alleged the New York City Police Department displayed "a pattern of using excessive force and making false arrests against New Yorkers during peaceful protests" last year. The department violated the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendment rights of New Yorkers as officers cracked down on protesters and even arrested legal observers during racial justice protests last year, the suit alleges.

The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and the world. New York City was home to many of the largest protests, with some residents demanding justice over the police killing of Eric Garner six years earlier. Videos from some of the protests seemingly showed police attacking "peaceful protests" with "batons, fist strikes, pepper spray, and other physical force," including against many people not charged with any crimes, the suit said. These marked the "latest manifestation of the NYPD's unconstitutional policing practices," the suit continued.

The suit names New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, and Chief of Department Terence A. Monahan as defendants in the suit. De Blasio has also been the target of criticism from the NYPD itself. He decided to reduce the force's budget by $1 billion last year amid calls to reduce police funding.