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City Warned About Plans For Mass Arrests at RNC

On Friday the Center for Constitutional Rights criticized Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau for warning that the NYPD is preparing to arrest up to 1,000 people per day in the lead-up to the Republican National Convention. CCR Legal Director Jeffrey Fogel asserted, in a letter to Morgenthau, that there was no factual basis to believe that any arrests would be needed, no less 1,000 a day. The groups that are planning demonstrations during the Convention, said Fogel, "are furthering the highest goals of a democratic society embedded in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." Unfortunately, he asserted, "what we have seen in our city is a police department that believes that certain people or groups, i.e. the Republican Party, have greater free speech rights than the City’s own residents. The police department simply does not seem to understand that it has the responsibility to uphold and ensure the free speech rights of those protesting on an equal footing with those inside the Convention." Read full CCR release.

Update: The New York Civil Liberties Union has also weighed in on this by writing a letter to Mayor Bloomberg. According to the letter, “If the Department chooses to highlight potential disorder and conflict with police officers, law-abiding organizations are intimidated, and many people of goodwill will become fearful of attending the event.” The letter also pointed out that “hostile statements from high-level officials about an event convey to officers who actually police the event an attitude that produces excessive and unnecessary conflict.”

March 13, 2004 | Permalink

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