Photographers File Major Lawsuit Against the NYPD for Civil Rights Violations

The National Press Photographers Association announced this week that it will be joining a major lawsuit filed against NYC and the NYPD for civil rights violations during the Occupy Wall Street protests.

The NPPA joins a number of photojournalists and 5 elected city officials in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court this past Monday. The list of defendants includes the City of New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and JP Morgan Chase (which made an unprecedented $4.6 million donation to the NYPD in 2010).

In a statement released Monday, the NPPA cites the case of photojournalist Stephanie Keith, who was arrested twice and harassed while covering the protests. Keith is quoted as saying,

I joined this lawsuit because as a working journalist I’ve been arrested, thrown to the ground, hit with batons and yelled at by the NYPD while doing my job on assignment. I have seen my fellow journalists being treated this way as well. Why should journalists be subjected to trauma inducing harassment on the job?

The plaintiffs are seeking both “compensatory and monetary damages” and the appointment of a independent monitor to ensure that these harassments don’t occur in the future.

(via PDN via dvafoto)

Image credits: Photographs of Occupy 24 by Stephanie Keith

  • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

    I hope this judgement stings so bad that police departments nationwide take notice, and action. A clear and loud message has to be sent to stop violating photographers’ constitutional rights.

  • gorbachev

    It’s not going to sting, because NYPD or the individual police officers aren’t paying a single dime. It all comes off NYC tax payers’ pocket.

  • ennuipoet

    I fully support the photographers, but I am pissed my tax money is going to pay for the stupidity of the NYPD. (I live in NYC) Every time the NYPD does something stupid/criminal/both the City shells out money and we pay for it. I want the photographers to get justice, I just wish it was the cops who were paying for it.

  • photosforus

    If you put yourself into a hostile situation you take the risk a being injured. Thousands of people could get out of hand real quick and when that mob destroys the streets who has to take the blame? The city, because they didn’t control the crowd. I wasn’t there so I can’t say, but I have to put my self in the shoes of the officers that are there, making average pay with a family they love at home, having to make sure there isn’t a full scale revolution. I guess what I’m saying is if the cops pushed you around a little bit and you got bruised up, getup and brush yourself off. Go sell the pictures you got and carry on with your life.

  • Dave

    That is very noble to side with the cops when it is really an obvious case of the cops taking actions on the wrong people. If there is a potential mob situation about to happen, why are they taking precious time and resources away by arresting photographers? I’ll tell you why; police forces around the world are beginning to realize that, with the proliferation of cameras and phone cams, their days of passing judgement and issuing out punishment in the form of brutality are being seriously threatened. The police are outside their job description when it comes to punishment. That is up to the courts. Up until now the cops have been indulging themselves in illegal, violent behavior, and they have been covering up each others actions. Cameras ruin all that for them. And read the article, the cops are not “pushing you around a little bit”, they are falsely arresting them. They are breaking the law. They are paid to uphold the law. Now do you get it?

  • Dikaiosune01

    I hope many many people will continue to follow this story closely. This issue has been growing and being blown out of porpotion. Number of incidents has been reported in the British Campaign, “Photographers are not Terrorists”. It is finally gaining enough traction to reach the states. About time.
    A personal incident involving while I was shooting on the streets. I am six feet tall and was shooting at my height level. Some random guy charges at me, pokes me with his middle figure accusing me of shooting upskirts. I do my utmost to calm him down. As he finally realizes that I cannot be rattled, he slowly walks away cussing his accusations.
    People be crazy and need to wake up.

  • Ken

    How about not say “cops,” because not all cops or departments do this.

    My department fully recognizes the public’s right to be where they can be and that includes photographers. However, journalists, including photographers, don’t have any more rights as any other citizen. So when the police are trying to control a crowd don’t think flashing a press pass will automatically get you special privileges.

    Yes, from what I understand members of the NYPD may have overstepped bounds, but for a city to be so image conscious I’d quite surprised that this is systemic throughout the city and/or okayed by NYPD brass.

  • Keith

    The thing about the photos is that if the cops don’t have anything to hide, you’d think they would more than welcome photos as proof that the did their job without brutality and as evidence that they didn’t if someone claimed they did.

  • Rax

    No, but flashing a press pass does identify to a cop, that they are law abiding professional in place to report on the public’s interest. Any cop who is worth their badge should recognize that members of the press are not there to instigate, nor are there to participate in any form of civil dis-obeisance. The fact that police see press credentials, often issued by NYPD and then still choose to beat an unarmed civilian to the ground with a baton is clearly doing so out of a power kick.