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Clinics from NYU School of Law and Fordham Law School Criticize NYPD Aggression on Occupy Protesters
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On Wednesday, two law school clinics, The Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law) and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice (Fordham Law School) published a scathing report of the tactics employed by NYPD to respond against Occupy Wall Street protesters. The report, named “Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street,” is part of the Protest and Assembly Rights Project formed this year by experts from seven law school clinics across the country. This report is on the response of the police and administration in New York against Occupy Wall Street protesters and is supposed to be the first of a continuing series of reports, if the law professors and students are not put into cells by the government. Subsequent reports on Boston, Charlotte, Oakland, and San Francisco are expected.

The report, which can be viewed here (http://www.chrgj.org/projects/suppressingprotest.pdf) documents at least 130 separate incidents of alleged abuse by law enforcement authorities, only in New York. The report also calls for the creation of an independent inspector general to monitor the New York City Police Department.

The 132-page report produced after eight months of research by a huge number of law professors, students and attorneys mentioned, “Many of the reported allegations individually indicate clear violations of the government’s obligation to uphold assembly and expression rights.”

  
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Paul Browne, the chief spokesman of NYPD issued a statement in response on Wednesday stating “The NYPD accommodated lawful protests and made arrests when laws were broken, and showed restraint in doing so.”

The report also mentions that the police surveillance of Occupy events, in many cases, appears to violate legal restrictions on police monitoring of protests laid down in the “Handschu Guidelines” in the seminal case of Handschu v. Special Services. The report mentions numerous incidents in which police officers employed excessive force without provocation. It also mentions that accredited journalists were prevented from covering various events, including the overnight raid that cleared Zuccotti Park in November.

The report concluded that the use of force to suppress protests served to escalate tensions and put a chilling effect on the right to free speech and assembly. The report also mentions that while the report was created from a wide range of sources including interviews with lawyers, journalists and protesters, as well as photographs, video, court documents and eyewitness accounts, the police and city officials declined to provide interviews or responses.

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