Press Releases

Black Leaders Denounce the NYPD For Spying on National Action Network & Rev. Al Sharpton As NAN Contemplates a Lawsuit Against the NYPD

Feb 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 (New York, NY) —In light of a story released by NYPD reporter Len Levitt for Huffington Post alleging that an NYPD informant spied on Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network [NAN], national leaders have come together to express outrage at this blatant attempt to discredit Rev. Al Sharpton with malicious and defamatory falsities, including that he is homosexual. NAN and its Board of Directors are demanding that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly investigate this allegation and give a public response to why the NYPD & NYPD Intelligence Division had an informant assigned to Rev. Al Sharpton. According to Attorney Michael Hardy, NAN General Counsel and EVP, “We are weighing all legal options, including whether there was a violation of Federal Consent Decrees.”

Excerpts from article by Leonard Levitt in Huffington Post:
“According to the police document, the informant, who was identified not by name but by a five-digit number given to him by the department, provided the NYPD with a detailed description of NAN’s protest plans, including the names of prominent African-Americans set to participate, the locations where protesters would gather and the number of demonstrators who would offer themselves up for arrest……Two undercover police officers who spied on black protest groups in the 1980s told reporter Len Levitt in 1998 that the department was so intent on discrediting Sharpton that they were tasked by their superiors to spread rumors that he was homosexual.”

Quotes from National Leaders:

Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League
“The NYPDs spying actions are an intolerable abuse by law enforcement, and remind us of the bad days when J. EDGAR HOOVER recklessly spied on DR. KING and other CIVIL RIGHTS leaders in the 1960s. Its time for NYPD to disclose the full extent and nature of its spying operation on all Civil Rights organizations. We will not stand for a return to this abuse of process in the 21st CENTURY.”

Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church and Chairman of the Board, CNBC (Conference of National Black Churches) and National Action Network
“This challenges our most fundamental rights and ignites memories of the Gestapo tactics employed against Dr Martin Luther King Jr. by the police authorities during a sad moment in American History. In to many instances the NYPD appears to be an obstruction to individual liberty and justice. They have crossed the line here and must be held accountable.”

Russell Simmons, Music & Business Mogul
“I am deeply concerned about the reports that the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network were spied on by the NYPD. It is troubling to think that those who are ordered to protect us are in fact working against us. After reports that the NYPD spied on members of the Muslim community and on Occupy Wall Street and now Rev. Sharpton, we are again demanding that this type of behavior by our police department stop.”

Benjamin Jealous, President & CEO of NAACP
“If NYPD is spying on civil rights leaders, it is outrageous and must be stopped.” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Given the serious nature of the allegations and the history out which they arise, there is no acceptable response but for the city and the police department to show us all their cards. Our community must be certain that the people we count on to enforce the law are not breaking it.”

Melanie Campbell, President & CEO of National Coalition on Black Civic Participation & Black Women’s Roundtable
“I join my colleagues in expressing my deep concern on the abuse of NYPD’s law enforcement spying powers against the National Action Network. The unjust investigations and targeting of civil rights organizations is unacceptable. We stand with NAN and others in the civil rights community calling for NYPD to be transparent about the nature of this investigation immediately.”

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., President, Rainbow PUSH Coalition

“African American leaders have historically been the subject of unlawful spying by law enforcement officials seeking to discredit our leaders and our movement. The revelation about the New York Police Department spying on Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network in 2008 are wrong – Police Commissioner Kelly, as he promised over a year ago, must issue a full fact finding report on the matter, fully disclose the spying activities of the police department and make restitution to Rev. Sharpton and NAN for this invasion of privacy.”