NYPD Violated Human Rights of Occupy Protesters, Study Shows

Though it may not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, the New York Police Department is being accused of violating human and civil rights in its handling of Occupy protests, says The Guardian. After conducting an eight-month study, researchers from New York University and Fordham’s law schools recently released a report that outlined NYPD’s illegal tactics for suppressing First Amendment rights.

Although police officers take an oath to uphold the Constitution, New York scholars found them engaging in activities that did quite the opposite. The report details a laundry list of wrongdoings by the officers including excessive use of bodily force, unlawful arrests, unnecessary employment of weapons, refusing or delaying medical care to protesters, obstructing freedom of the press, arresting journalists, utilizing unnecessary police surveillance, using unwarranted interrogation and intimidation tactics, and enforcing rules arbitrarily.

“All the case studies we collected show the police are violating basic rights consistently, and the level of impunity is shocking,” said Sarah Knuckey, a professor of Clinical Law at NYU and one of the lead authors of the report. “The point needs to be made that NYPD does not exemplify international human rights law, it violates it.”

Despite being asked to meet with researchers so that the police’s perspective could be better included in the study, NYPD refused to speak on the matter. Instead, researchers used freedom of information queries to obtain necessary documents, although even some of those requests went unanswered.

NYPD is the only local police force that did not agree to weigh in with researchers. The New York study is just the first in a series of reports to be released through the Protest and Assembly Rights Project. Subsequent studies specific to Oakland, Boston, and a couple of other cities will be released in the upcoming months.

One of the biggest problems seems to be that the police are not being held accountable for their actions. With no one actively policing the police, NYPD has been able to get away with violating human rights. After nearly a year of questionable police responses to the Occupy movement, just one officer, Anthony Bologna, was handed a disciplinary proceeding for any wrongdoing.

This lack of accountability is addressed in the study’s concluding recommendations:

  1. The Mayor of New York City should establish an independent review of the response to the Occupy protests in New York.
  2. New York City and State authorities must ensure full accountability for violations of the rights of protesters.
  3. An independent Inspector-General for the police should be created through law, with sufficient independence, capacity, resources and power to provide effective oversight of policing practices.
  4. The NYPD must create, publicize and implement a new protest policing policy for protests that prioritizes respect for civil liberties and human rights.
  5. New York City authorities should ensure transparency in their protest policing and accountability efforts and release all relevant documents related to its protest policing policies and practices.
  6. If New York officials fail to announce a good-faith intention to undertake the above necessary steps to restore accountability and rights-respecting protest policing, the U.S. Department of Justice must exercise its authority to investigate allegations of official misconduct.
  7. The UN Special Rapporteurs on assembly, expression and human rights defenders should seek U.S. government compliance with international human rights law by requesting the United States to respond to the allegations in this report. Where appropriate, the Special Rapporteurs should request a country fact-finding mission to the United States.

Related Stories:

30 Journalists Arrested Covering Occupy Movement

First OWS Trial Results in Acquittal Thanks to Citizen Journalism

OWS Pepper Spray Cop Loses 10 Vacation Days

Photo Credit: Joe Lustri


Arild Warud
Arild Warud4 years ago


change twentytwelve

Thanks Billie, I will check it out when I'm finished going throwing the morning e-mails. By the way, does anyone remember the Natioanal interview with a Iraqi vet, who furiously confronted the NYPD, and basically said; I did not go on on repeated tours in Iraq to see this happening to my own countrymen.If your so damn eager to fight, then go sign up for YOUR tours if you want to fight so bad. It was all caught on tape, and the officers looked very uncomfortable, and ashamned!

James S.
james S.4 years ago

Kevin - I should have been more clear. The "cop bashing" I spoke of wasn't necessarily pointed at this article and I should have been more careful with my wording. I think I was just venting a bit because on facebook and in general, so many throw out bad blanket statements about the police as opposed to just speaking about a particular event or policy.

Billie C.
Billie C.4 years ago

changet wsbtv.com had the items on occupy. i have no idea if they news reports are still up on their site or not.

Alan G.
Alan G.4 years ago

It was pointed out a long time ago the the police are not "workers in blue".

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Yeah James it is nice that you have had nice interactions with the police, lucky you. We all saw what the police, particularly the supervisory personnel did so what you call "cop bashing" a lot of us call "the truth." Wait until you are on the receiving end of the pepper spray and the taser and then see if you call it "cop bashing."

James S.
james S.4 years ago

Not making any judgements about OWS events but I will say: I'm on the streets in NYC quite often for demonstrations,outreach... and I've never had an issue with an NYPD officer. Also, I coordinate events and therefore must constantly interact with officers from many different precincts and I've found them to be very helpful and reasonable. I know that sometimes there are mistakes but I've also witnessed protestors basically asking for trouble, which is very unfortunate. Just wanted to put it out there, with the constant cop bashing and all.

change twentytwelve

Still can't send you another star Micheal, maybe it'd be better if we could do so daily , instead of weekly. Thanks for raising the learning curve some are trying to stomp down, although you have to be willing to be Open to learn.

Michael G.
Michael T.4 years ago

Rob D writes

Tea Party activists pull of huge rallies with no violence and clean up after themselves.

Their rallies, as you well know are not huge in comparison to Occupy rallies and you know this, but choose to wave false flags. Nor do they rally over night.

The Occupy folks have been arrested before they had a chance to disobey lawful orders in several instances. The law enforcement treatment of the news media was focused and targeted.

You really don’t know much about what happened at any of these places do you. If you pulled your head out of someone’s echo chamber you might get some real reporting, not, by your tone, that you would accept or agree with it.

Michael G.
Michael T.4 years ago

Don C, I tried this last night but Care2 wasn't behaving because I don't see my post and I was able to send you a green star just now. I clicked last night to give you a green star and wrote my thanks to you for your post on this thread.

While you claim to be a conservative you are also unhappy about the loss of our rights as citizens. Something Rob D can't seem to understand.

Anyway, thank you sir for serving our country and thank you for your comments yesterday.