NYC Law Department probing whether NYPD broke law by questioning protesters on political activities

Protesters are seen here being arrested for curfew violations on Park Avenue in Manhattan last week.
Protesters are seen here being arrested for curfew violations on Park Avenue in Manhattan last week

The city’s Law Department is looking into allegations that the NYPD violated civil rights protocols by questioning George Floyd protesters about their political affiliations, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.
The spokesman, Nick Paolucci, said the department opened the review after receiving a letter about the alleged interrogation practices from the team of lawyers who secured the 1985 Handschu agreement, which prohibits the NYPD from surveilling political activities.
“We are reviewing the allegations with the NYPD and will respond accordingly," Paolucci said.
In the letter, the Handschu lawyers, led by civil rights attorney Martin Stolar, wrote they had heard from several protesters who say FBI agents and NYPD officials grilled them about their political beliefs after arresting them for violating the city’s since-scrapped 8 p.m. curfew.
Stolar told the Daily News he’s personally in touch with eight protesters who were subjected to politically-laced questioning after breaking curfew.
Protesters were asked about their political activities on social media and whether they belonged to Antifa or “anarchist groups,” among other questions, according to the letter.
Under the Handschu agreement, the NYPD can only commence investigations into political activity if there’s “specific information” that subjects are about to commit a crime.
Stolar questioned the basis for subjecting George Floyd demonstrators to political questioning, since they were only arrested for violating curfew while protesting police brutality.
“I can’t conceive of a legitimate, authorized reason for investigating these protests protected by the First Amendment,” Stolar said. “On its face, it looks like this is completely unauthorized.”
Contrary to the NYPD, the FBI has broader discretion in how to question people.
The FBI’s involvement comes as President Trump and his administration are trying to label Antifa as a terrorist group, even though the far-left movement doesn’t have any centralized leadership or even a defined structure.

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