State Representative (Senate / Assembly) Template
Remember you can make it your own, but keep it professional and to the point.
(Month) (Day) (Year)
Dear (Political Title) (Last Name),
I am contacting you regarding the New York Police Department’s continued collaboration with the media to violate the privacy and civil rights of protesters who have not been convicted of any crime. I believe you will find these patterns and recent escalations troubling.
After making arrests at protests, the NYPD quickly collects certain information from protesters. This is gathered in ways that are both obvious (legal name, address, DOB, charges) and less so (information discussed on phone calls, information culled from social media, NY Post reporters whose parents work / have worked in the NYPD). The NYPD then leaks this information to right-wing tabloids, notorious for their extreme bias, inaccurate coverage, and sensationalist headlines.
This has led to numerous articles since the Summer of 2020 that seek to position your constituents exercising their First Amendment rights as “outside agitators." At least twenty protesters have had their full legal names, ages, and areas of residence shared. On some occasions, mugshots were leaked as well. Recently, details of an arrestee's personal phone call have appeared in articles as well as entire smear campaign regarding lawsuits and arrest warrants that do not exist, and an article which framed a Black non-violent activist as akin to “cop-killers,” releasing their full name and images pulled from social media.
Current legislation from the 2019 NYS budget says that publication of this private information is allowed if “in the public interest," however, the purpose behind these articles is not (as the outlet would argue) to inform the public of valuable information, but to paint a target on the back of people exercising their First Amendment rights. The NYPD relies on the New York Post to intimidate and scare people out of protesting, and the New York Post relies on disinformation and fear-mongering to get clicks and sell papers. They work in conjunction to libel, dox, and scare New Yorkers out of fighting to make the city, the state, and the country live up to its collective values of Liberty and Justice for all.
These gaps in media, privacy, and libel laws have allowed the NYPD and the NY Post / their cohorts to get away with intimidation and harassment for far too long. Their current ability to extrajudicially punish and endanger those fighting for racial justice ultimately serves as a repression technique that is truly alarming.
I ask you to look at these techniques employed by the NYPD and consider what you and your colleagues can do to close these gaps in the law so your constituents are protected while exercising their First Amendment rights. Thank you for your time.