I-Witness Video Blog : The Policing of Protest
City Seeks Entire Video Library from RNC Protests
Friday, 20 Jun 2008
In April, I-Witness Video received the first of two subpoenas from the New York City Law Department in connection with the civil lawsuits filed by people arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention. We received a second subpoena, seeking additional material, in early June.
The subpoenas demand videotapes, photographs, documents and other "potential evidence" related to "protests, demonstrations, and arrests" during the RNC.
Yesterday, our attorneys filed a Motion to Quash the City's subpoenas.
In the event that the judge orders us to turn over any portion of the archive, we have asked the court to prohibit the City from making the videotapes available to police, federal agencies, foreign governments, or other entities, and to allow us to withhold the names of the videographers.
The City is engaged in a very cynical exercise: it already possesses about 270 videotapes of the demonstrations shot by police officers, as well as about 70 other videotapes from other sources. And yet, they are asking to copy every last videotape in our RNC collection -- including videotapes they already have, and including a large number of tapes shot by the NYPD itself.
The City knows what we know -- that the NYPD was out of control during the Convention protests. The videotapes in their possession already show that. So we can't help but wonder why they are demanding access to our archive. Could it be that they are using this opportunity to gather intelligence about activists? We are deeply concerned about this, and about the possibility that the City's request, if granted, could transform I-Witness Video from a network of video activists into a de-facto arm of the government.
We are continuing to engage in the larger struggle to expose police abuses, but right now we are also under the gun. And we need your help. Join us this summer at the presidential conventions in Minneapolis and Denver where we will be documenting the policing of demonstrations. Or contribute money to I-Witness Video. We have a lot of exciting projects underway in addition to the convention work. If you want to talk to us, we'd love to hear from you.