NYPD Spied on Al Sharpton

A police document reveals that the NYPD sent an informant to collect information about Sharpton's plans for protests following the acquittal of officers in the Sean Bell case.

Posted: 02/13/2012 03:30 PM EST
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As Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network were busy organizing large-scale protests of the police acquittals in the Sean Bell trial, an informant from the NYPD was spying on the group and relaying information back to the department, says reporter and author Len Levitt.

Levitt claims to have received access to a police document outlining the spying mission.

“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 protestors would gather and the number of demonstrators who would offer themselves up for arrest,” Levitt writes.

According to Levitt, the document did not indicate whether the spying was legally conducted according to court-monitored guidelines but, under such rules, the police must have the belief that a group is planning to commit a crime in order to conduct such surveillance.

The National Action Network was planning acts of civil disobedience.

Levitt also writes that the NYPD also spied on Sharpton continually in the wake of the Tawana Brawley case, of which Sharpton was an outspoken advocate.

Members of New York City’s Muslim communities recently blasted the NYPD after a 2006 report surfaced detailing the department’s efforts to spy on Shiite Muslims.

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 (Photo: Toby Canham/Getty Images)

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