Right to Record Act Introduced, Legal Aid Quoted
THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2016

Politico New York reported on a newly-introduced New York City Council measure that would emphasize and codify civilians’ rights to record police activity. Cynthia Conti-Cook, a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Practice’s Special Litigation Unit, is quoted in the story.

The article discusses the Right to Record Act and calls for similar state legislation. A press conference on the bill highlighted the need to underscore individuals’ recording rights. At the event, Conti-Cook said recordings by certain organizations like CopWatch have shown how certain reforms are not being carried out by officers.

Conti-Cook is quoted saying, “because of CopWatch, we also know that people are unjustly being stopped and frisked every single day, still. People are being stopped by police and denied police information when they ask for it. People are being illegal searched or coerced into consenting to searches every single day.” Conti-Cook and Joshua Carrin, a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Practice’s Manhattan office, recently filed a federal lawsuit with Proskauer Rose LLP to fight the police department’s practice and custom of letting police officers interfere with the First Amendment rights of individuals who record or try to record police activity in public places.




Politico New York
As Right to Record Act is pushed in City Council, assemblywoman wants it in Albany, too
July 14, 2016
By Azi Paybarah

City Councilman Jumaane Williams believes Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton should be "immediately supportive" of the newly introduced Right to Record Act in the City Council, since that right already exists under the constitution.

"We think this is a common sense bill," Williams said of the legislation at a press conference outside of City Hall Thursday morning.

Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte of Brooklyn attended the press conference and said the bill should also be adopted in Albany. "Once this legislation is passed here in the City Council, we want to even take it further, we want to take it to the state. This should be a state legislation and that is our duty."

The introduction of the Right to Record Act comes days after City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito scuttled another police reform package, arguing it was not needed since the NYPD voluntarily adapted most of the bill through departmental rules changes. One activist at the press conference called for a "recall" of Mark-Viverito for not passing that legislation, known as the Right to Know Act.

De Blasio spokeswoman Monica Klein released a statement saying the mayor is looking into the current bill.

Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side said protecting the public's right to record police activities protects law enforcement officers and civilians. She also said it provides objective information about those encounters. "We no longer have to rely on someone telling the story of what happened, someone's memory of an incident," she said at the press conference.

Cynthia Conti-Cook, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society, said recordings made by activists in groups like CopWatch have shown what streets stops are like, and how some well-touted reforms are not carried out on the street.

"Because of CopWatch, we also know that people are unjustly being stopped and frisked every single day, still," Conti-Cook said. "People are being stopped by police and denied police information when they ask for it. People are being illegal searched or coerced into consenting to searches every single day."

Williams said protecting the right to record police is necessary and he recalled how vital video and pictures were in substantiating police misconduct claims he made after he and another man were arrested at the 2011 West Indian Labor Day Parade in Brooklyn. Williams, then a freshman member of the City Council, was handcuffed and detained along with Kirsten John Foy, who at the time was working for de Blasio, then the city's Public Advocate.

Williams said police and city officials "would not substantiate anything that did not have videos or pictures. So, as a Council member, my word meant absolutely nothing compared to a police officer. As a duly elected New York City Council member, my word was just not believed they had videos or pictures. Those were the only things they believed."