A Manhattan judge found the NYPD in contempt of court this week after the department ignored a court order to hand over surveillance records of Black Lives Matter protests at Grand Central Terminal between 2014 and 2015.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez threatened to fine the agency Monday, Nov. 27, but a city spokesman insisted the department is “constrained by genuine security concerns from explaining publicly how disclosure could endanger the lives and safety of undercover officers,” the New York Post reported.
In February, Mendez ordered the NYPD to release all documents, video and audio recordings detailing its undercover surveillance of BLM protests at the terminal following the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner. Garner died after an NYPD officer placed him in an illegal choke hold. His final words “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for the social justice movement.
The court order came after protester James Louge sued the department after it denied his Freedom of Information Act request to view documents and other reports related to its monitoring of BLM rallies. Mendez gave the department 30 days to comply with Logue’s request, but it failed to follow through.
The judge blasted the NYPD for disobeying his “unequivocal mandate.”
Some of the documents released earlier this year showed that undercover officers had infiltrated small groups of BLM activists and gained access to their private text chats. Most of the documents were emails sent between undercover officers and other NYPD officials.