I-Witness Video, which documented the police at the 2004 Republican National Convention in association with the National Lawyers Guild, has received two subpoenas from the City of New York in connection with civil lawsuits related to the 1800 arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention. The City has demanded every piece of paper, electronic file, and videotape related to the demonstrations - including, remarkably, I-Witness Video's copies of tapes shot by their own police officers! The subpoenas are so broad that the City is even demanding access to videotapes which do not show any arrests, but only First Amendment types of activity. Because of this we believe their true motivation is not defending themselves from lawsuits about false arrests, but rather intelligence-gathering.
I-Witness Video, which is based in New York City, worked hand-in-hand with the National Lawyers Guild during the criminal trials of people arrested at the RNC. Video showed the truth about what happened in the streets, contradicting police testimony on multiple occasions. As a direct result, over 400 individuals had their cases dismissed or were acquitted at trial based on video evidence.
I-Witness Video is fighting this gross abuse of subpoena power. We are deeply concerned that any videotapes and other information we turn over to the City will be used to target demonstrators, who may then have their names added to law enforcement databases and become subject to government harassment. Our lawyers have moved to quash both subpoenas, and have asked the federal judge to allow us to withhold the names of the videographers who shot the tapes. While we are fighting against turning over any videotapes to the government, in the event that the judge orders us to give the City some portion of the video archive, we have asked for a court order that the tapes never be shared with law enforcement agencies.
See the I-Witness Video website for our statement.
New York Times article about the subpoenas.