Black Lives Matter protestors

(Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Activists want to know if NYPD interfered with cell phones during protests

January 15, 2019 - 10:32 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Several local activists with 'The Millions March' have filed a public records request for information about police surveillance of their group, which is affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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The New York Times says they want to know whether or not the department is monitoring or interfering in any way with the protestors' cell phones.

They their devices have been suddenly switching off or losing reception at demonstrations.

The NYPD argued that releasing the information would compromise its counterterrorism and criminal investigations -- known as a Glomar response, but a state judge rejected that.

The Times reports, the NYPD successfully used the tactic in 2017 to block requests for documents on surveillance in Muslim neighborhoods.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth said that the NYPD cannot use the Glomar response to hide illegal interference with protests.

Some say it's time for a legislative solution.

“This ruling shows that the N.Y.P.D. cannot be trusted when it comes to disclosing technology that it’s going to use against the public,” Christopher Dunn, associate director of the civil liberties union said. “That’s exactly why there has to be legislative reform.”

Bronx Democrat Vanessa Gibson reportedly plans to reintroduce legislation that would force the NYPD to disclose surveillance tools. A similar bill failed in 2017, in the face of strong opposition from the mayor and police department.