NYPD officials get caught in the crosshairs of a bombshell lawsuit.
The public dispute between Black Lives Matter groups and police has been going on for some time now, as various divisions of regional law enforcement in the United States battle against rampant allegations of racism and violence against minorities across the country. Today, a report from Mother Jones has revealed stunning new information concerning a BLM chapter in Rockland County, New York, who claim that police personnel had been spying on them for a year at minimum.
As per Mother Jones, police in Clarkstown, New York set up a Strategic Intelligence Unit in 2013 that, in conjunction with the county District Attorney’s office, was meant to “gather intelligence on suspected criminals.” However, the unit used social media to spy on members of the BLM group using "geofence" techniques after they were told to cease their surveillance activity. A police intelligence report from November of 2015 confirms that, twice in the same month, the technique was used to keep a close eye on the Twitter and Instagram activity of specific people that the unit purported to be working with Black Lives Matter. Clarkstown police supposedly used a "monitoring platform and other investigatory tactics” on multiple social media platforms to “search, monitor and analyze real time social media content” of their various surveillance targets. The special unit's actions are now being described as "unlawful."
Mother Jones also copped an email exchange between the former chief detective for the Rockland County DA’s officeand the former head of Clarkstown’s Strategic Intelligence Unit, where the ex-detective mentioned that the Unit "really should not have Black Lives Matter listed as a target of surveillance.” According to Susan Freiwald, a professor at the University of San Francisco Law School, "police should not be tracking people without legitimate suspicion that they are involved in criminal wrongdoing.” Social media doesn't necessarily help this cause though, providing a ton of publicly available information that is accessible to anyone, not just law enforcement groups. That's not to say that tactics described are scrupulous or even legal, but the ease at which someone can grab the data and use it as they please.
If any more details surface about the lawsuit, we will update you.