Since 2012, the NYPD (New York Police Department) has been conducting takedowns and raids of large numbers of people alleged to be gang or “crew” members using secret and expansive surveillance technology. Media reports indicate that the NYPD has arrested over 2,000 New Yorkers—the overwhelming majority of whom are Black and Latinx—in just the last 18 months in these takedowns. With the assistance of the FBI and Homeland Security, NYPD informants have been analyzing and observing social media activity from texts messages, pictures, and videos recording this information in their gang database to then launch raids.
Gang databases are overinclusive, inaccurate and they have a disparate impact. Indeed, the vast majority of those entered into the NYPD gang database are Black and Brown New Yorkers. More importantly, entry into the gang database does not require any evidence of criminality or suspicion of wrongdoing. The NYPD secretly continues keeping eyes on Black and Brown communities in New York, and you have a right to know if you were among the thousands who were subject to this racist and overbroad surveillance.
The New York Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) requires the NYPD to disclose “all records” requested by a member of the public that are not otherwise protected against disclosure. Through FOIL, you can request the NYPD’s file on yourself and document this systematic disregard of civil liberties. By submitting this request, you are exercising your right to hold the NYPD accountable and demand transparency.
The Legal Aid Society (LAS) would like to know about the results of your FOIL request. This will allow LAS to document the scope of the NYPD’s secret prying into the lives and unlawful activities of Black and Brown New Yorkers. The report will only use summary data and anonymous anecdotal information and not use your name or personal information without prior permission.
Please contact us at [email protected] or (212) 577-3385 if you have any questions or need assistance. We can also visit your organization, community center or student group to provide trainings and support on FOIL rights.