[JURIST] The New York Police Department (NYPD) [official website] used excessive force and violated the rights of protesters who participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, a report [text, PDF] issued by a coalition of legal rights organizations said. The report alleges that police frequently used excessive force against protesters indiscriminately, sometimes for no apparent reason. It also says that police used intimidation tactics to discourage lawful protests. The report documents 130 incidents of alleged misconduct by police that the authors say are a violation of US and international law:
The abusive practices documented in this report violate international law and suppress and chill protest rights, not only by undermining individual liberty, but also by causing both minor and serious physical injuries, inhibiting collective debate and the capacity to effectively press for social and economic change, and making people afraid to attend otherwise peaceful assemblies.
The report also documents incidents of police abusing members of the press and attempts to prevent press coverage of police activity.
The NYPD has come under scrutiny recently for alleged misconduct. Last month, a Muslim rights group filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking to end a controversial NYPD surveillance program, which allegedly targets individuals based on religious affiliation. JURIST guest columnist Samar Warsi in May questioned [JURIST comment] the NYPD policies stating: “It is vital to be cautious when government officials use glittering generalities such as ‘national security’ and ‘counterterrorism’ to legitimize acts and policies in clear contravention of basic constitutional guarantees.” In May, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa concluded that the NYPD’s surveillance program did not violate the Constitution [AP report]. Chiesa had launched an investigation into the program after a series of AP articles sparked outrage in New Jersey in February. In March, NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly adamantly denied [speech; press release] that the surveillance programs were unconstitutional.