According to local news in Minneapolis, the NAACP has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis for allegedly spying on members of the organization’s local chapter for years without legitimate cause. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday morning by the University of Minnesota Law Schools’ Racial Justice Law Clinic (RJLC) on behalf of the NAACP. Civil Rights Advocate and Attorney, Ben Crump stated the development of this lawsuit, “comes one year after the MN Dept. of Human Rights released a report saying Minneapolis police use covert social media to target Black leaders & organizations and to criticize elected officials — all without oversight or public safety purpose.”
In a statement, Cynthia Wilson, president of the Minneapolis NAACP said, “While the Minneapolis Police Department’s surveillance of our membership is not surprising, it is disappointing. We assumed that our work with MPD on public safety and community matters was being done in good faith. Instead, MPD simultaneously tried to bring us harm. To know MPD surveilled our members is deeply unnerving and upsetting. Their actions violated our trust. MPD needs to be held accountable to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”
The lawsuit claims police officers’ surveillance of NAACP members violates the members’ First and 14th Amendment rights and discriminates against them and calls for compensatory relief in an amount to be determined at trial and punitive damages against the entangled officers.
Liliana Zaragoza, associate professor of clinical law and director of the RJLC said, “For years, MPD maintained a policy of singling out the NAACP and its members for online surveillance and harassment because of their race and because of their advocacy on behalf of Black community members. This conduct is not only unconstitutional but also eerily reminiscent of past efforts across the country to surveil Black activists and organizations, from the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter. Our clients deserve safety, security, and freedom from both police harassment and the fear that they are being watched because of who they are and what they advocate for. The City and officers involved must be held accountable.”