Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images
  /  01.14.2021

The New York attorney general is taking legal action against the New York City Police Department following their handling of George Floyd protests. On Thursday (Jan. 14), Attorney General Letitia James announced she’s filing a lawsuit against the department, the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan for their “excessive, brutal and unlawful” response to the demonstrations.

“There is no question that the NYPD engaged in a pattern of excessive, brutal and unlawful force against peaceful protesters,” James said in a news release. “Over the past few months, the NYPD has repeatedly and blatantly violated the rights of New Yorkers, inflicting significant physical and psychological harm and leading to great distrust in law enforcement.”

James explained that her decision to sue the NYPD succeeds an investigation that revealed officers’ “indiscriminate, unjustified and repeated use of batons, pepper spray, bicycles and a crowd control tactic known as ‘kettling’ against peaceful protestors.” She condemned the defendants for their improper training of New York City police and their failure to discipline those guilty of misconduct. James is now calling for the installation of an external monitor to survey police tactics.

The NYPD has long been under scrutiny for their management of several Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the city. Back in September, a report from the Human Rights Watch revealed that officers “planned” attacks against Bronx protesters who were demanding justice for George Floyd in June.

“The New York City police blocked people from leaving before the curfew, and then used the curfew as an excuse to beat, abuse and arrest people who were protesting peacefully,”  Human Rights Watch conflict director Ida Sawyer said at the time. “It was a planned operation with no justification that could cost New York taxpayers millions of dollars.”

The following month, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society sued the police department for their use of batons and pepper spray against people who were peacefully protesting, and condemned Blasio and Shea as they allegedly “condoned and even promoted” the brutality.


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