Criminal Justice

New York Police Are Jailing Protesters For Days Without Charging Them

A New York State Judge has ruled that the twin crises of civic unrest and coronavirus justify holding people without charge beyond the normal 24-hour limit.

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New York State Judge James Burke has responded to a writ of habeas corpus filed by the Legal Aid Society (LAS) by ruling that the New York Police Department (NYPD) can keep anyone detained for more than 24 hours.

Since the mass protests against police abuses began last week, the NYPD has arrested thousands of New Yorkers and kept up to 400 in Central Booking for more than 24 hours before seeing a judge, according to LAS Deputy Communications Director Redmond Haskins. Many detainees allege that they were prevented from calling family or lawyers and denied water and medical assistance.

The arrests were not limited to alleged looters or even to peaceful protesters out past curfew. The NYPD arrested the Canadian journalist Anna Slatz on June 2 and held her for two days, even though reporters are theoretically among the workers exempted from the city's curfew. Other essential employees, such as delivery drivers, also number among the arrested.

Burke issued his ruling on Thursday, and the LAS filed an appeal on Friday. As of today, according to Haskins, about 10 people in each borough jail were still being held beyond the 24-hour-time limit, down from a peak of around 400 on June 3. 

New York City's requirement that someone either be charged or released within 24 hours after being arrested was secured by the New York Court of Appeals' decision in Roundtree v. Brown, a 1991 case brought by the Legal Aid Society.

Burke justified the suspension of this 24-hour limit on the grounds that the city is in a "crisis within a crisis." He claimed that police procedures are under dual stress from citywide civil unrest and the coronavirus pandemic, which has necessitated virtual arraignment meetings in the place of live ones.

The LAS disagreed, stating in a press release that the ruling violates "our fundamental standards of justice."

Legal disputes aside, the NYPD's crackdown could pose a serious public health concern. One detainee told the New York Daily News that he and other detainees could "barely fit" in their holding cell, while other reports allege that NYPD officers confiscated personal protective equipment and refused to provide hand sanitizer. The inability to exercise preventative measures in these tight and needlessly prolonged conditions surely poses a far greater COVID-19 risk than exposure at outdoor marches.

The suspension of these detainment restrictions could also have a chilling effect on free speech. Protesters may avoid assembling for fear of unjust detainment and all the police mistreatment it entails. Likewise, Burke's decision to uphold the new NYPD policy may further embolden cops to act with impunity.

NEXT: 'Where Are Libertarians on Police Reform?' Right Where We've Always Been.

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  1. If the NYPD can randomly stop and frisk people with no probable cause nor reasonable suspicion, I don’t see why indefinite detention should be a problem. And besides, it’s for our own safety and NYC being one of the safest places on Earth is proof that unlimited police powers definitely work.

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  2. We’ve already established that COVID trumps civil liberties, so what’s the problem?

  3. make them all lick each other too.

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  4. Many detainees allege that they were prevented from calling family or lawyers and denied water and medical assistance.

    Not to mention COVID testing, a Basic Human Right!

  5. Burke justified the suspension of this 24-hour limit on the grounds that the city is in a “crisis within a crisis.”

    Actually, the city is in “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.

    1. Will Batman stop the Riddler or has Bruce Wayne defunded him and given the proceeds to Colin Kaepernick? Tune in next week to find out. Same bat time, same bat station.

    2. You can almost hear Baron Harkonnen himself saying, “Never let a crisis within a crisis go to waste.”

    3. So, kinda like a turd-ducken?

      1. I have no idea what a turd-ducken is, but if it’s even half as disgusting as it sounds, then it’s a mystery I have no interest in solving. (Geez, even the spell-check suggestions for “turd-ducken” are gross. WTF does “turd-ducked” mean? To be dipped in poo? Someone threw poo, and you ducked? The more I think about this, the less I want to think about this.)

        1. It’s like turducken, only made from different kinds of poo.

  6. I’m old enough to remember last month when the media were very certain that protests were dangerous and irresponsible because they would spread the virus and kill thousands and they should lock up violators for good.

    1. Got a link or two? Or has that stuff been memory-holed?

        1. I could be wrong, but you might want to double-check the settings on your sarc-o-meter.

          1. C’mon, Wiz, be fair. There are enough real idiots commenting here, along with the people pretending to be idiots, that you need a scorecard to keep track of which is which. And looking at mine, it’s 6 months old. Who has the latest version of the Idiot Card to send me?

    2. Those protesters were different because they all wanted to go back to work, which is a disgusting activity that only racists do

  7. 2020 , they take the gloves off. No more pretending there’s rights that can’t be infringed.

  8. Keep being you, media.

    Armed groups fueled by Antifa rumors meet peaceful protesters in Snohomish
    Rumors that Antifa activists were on their way to cause mayhem drew hundreds of self-declared protectors, many of them armed and some associated with far-right groups, to the small town of Snohomish.

    1. FYI, saw a great video of a group of people smashing windows in Scottsdale until they came upon a property protected by a bunch of people with black rifles. They immediately held a peaceful vigil in front of the property before moving on.

      1. In their defense, whatever the chick in the tight jogging shorts and mid-rift shirt in the lower left-hand corner @0:52 is protesting, I’d be protesting too.

        Honorable mention: the woman in the dress and heels under the streetlamp by the white Jimmy getting her lunges in and adjusting her hem line.

        1. U da real MVP, Mad.

          And by honorable mention, you mean the set of steak knives next to the new Eldorado. I suspect a case of ‘good from far, but far from good.’

          1. I suspect a case of ‘good from far, but far from good.’

            The light is almost certainly working in her favor, but she’s well dressed, carries herself well, and lesser women command more attention hiking their dress up like that.

      2. Hmm, maybe there’s something to the old saying: “An armed society is a polite society.”

    2. I literally loled reading the first paragraph

      ” On May 31, hundreds of people — most of them men, many of them armed and some representing far right-wing groups — descended upon a stretch of this small town where restaurants, antique shops and flower pots line the street. ”

      everyone knows that innocent flower pots and antiques don’t stand a chance when armed, right-wing men are around

      1. I literally loled reading the first paragraph

        “I felt very uncomfortable and I’m a white woman.” has to be the most hilariously tone-deaf thing I’ve heard in a while.

        1. You just know that stuck up bitch has trouble sitting through a whole showing of Blazing Saddles or The Enforcer, let alone both movies back-to-back.

  9. New York State Judge James Burke has responded to a writ of habeas corpus filed by the Legal Aid Society (LAS) by ruling that the New York Police Department (NYPD) can keep anyone detained for more than 24 hours.

    So it sounds like this issue goes beyond the police. Instead of saying NYPD, as if saying the police are completely going rogue on this, say NYC. The city is jailing these people, and NYPD is merely the enforcement arm of that government.

    We need to talk like libertarians on this if want progress-it’s not the police that are trampling rights; it’s the government, through use of its police force.

  10. Of course, other sources say that as people are charged, even looters and arsonists, they are released immediately under new York City’s new bail laws.

    1. If the courts are responding to this the same way the cops have responded to protestors, they probably are cutting the looters and arsonists loose.

  11. “New York City’s requirement that someone either be charged or released within 24 hours after being arrested was secured by the New York Court of Appeals’ decision in Roundtree v. Brown, a 1991 case brought by the Legal Aid Society.”

    Really? Way back in 1991?
    But COVID-19!!!
    They aren’t being held without charge; they are in a 14 day quarantine. Totally different.

  12. That’s what you get for living in NYC

    1. Which is expected to lose 2 million population, and guess where they’re headed? In a house near you!!!

  13. This won’t; but this should buy everyone involved, from the judge to the street cop, a civil rights charge and suit. Given how rampant is C-19 in jails, they also deserve a wanton endangerment charge.

  14. Funny, but NYC’s progressive movement stops dead at the halls of justice. Can’t have everything I guess.

  15. Damn that TRUMP!

  16. Good. First it is unreasonable to think hundreds upon hundreds can be instantaneously charged with criminal conduct while police are holding back thousands from ripping the city to pieces. The fact that many of these people were charged the night before similar charges and let go due to stupid bail reform laws to me means if it keeps them in jail a few days longer and teaches them that there are consequences for their actions then so be it.

    Why not write this story instead and I have heard it from 2 NYPD officers. The ADA association asked Governor Cuomo to suspend bail reform to hold these people on charges in jail. He said no. Instead he said the NYPD should be able to find ways to “upcharge” them to keep them in jail. Breaking into a store is 3rd degree burglary which under current bail reform is not an offense that bail should be offered so they are set free BUT if you charge them with breaking into a store WITH A WEAPON it gets upgraded to 2nd degree which is an offense that can be charged bail. So basically the governor is telling the police to break the law by charging these people with crimes they didn’t commit so that they can be held overnight or forever how long just so he can save face on this ridiculous bail reform law that he passed.

    That is a major story that you will never hear in the mainstream press.

  17. If you protest being jailed without due process does that make you a white supremacist?

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