Protest And Assembly Rights Project

In January 2012, international human rights and U.S. civil liberties clinics at seven law schools across the United States formed the Protest and Assembly Rights Project. This joint project investigated the U.S. government’s response to Occupy Wall Street in light of its international legal obligations, with the aim of promoting rights-respecting government responses to protests.  The Global Justice Clinic was a Project Director and Coordinator for this inter-clinic Project.

In June 2012, the Global Justice Clinic (NYU), together with the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic (Fordham), published the first in a series of reports as part of the Project.  The report, Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street, documented extensive human rights violations in the response to Occupy Wall Street in New York City (NYC).  Documented abuses included: the use of aggressive, unnecessary, and excessive police force against peaceful protesters; obstruction of press freedoms; pervasive surveillance; unjustified closure of public space; arbitrary rule enforcement; and failures of transparency and accountability. The report called for a major independent review of New York City’s response to Occupy, for legislators to establish an independent Inspector General to oversee policing practices, and for police to implement a new protest policing policy that prioritizes respect for human rights. The report also called for federal authorities to investigate NYC practice, if NYC refused to take the necessary steps to remedy and prevent violations.

The report received widespread coverage in local, national, and international press, including in The New York Times and The Atlantic.

Supervised Global Justice Clinic students worked on all aspects of the project, including: project design, coordination, fact-finding, security and confidentiality assessments, legal research on subpoena risks and other topics, interviewing of witnesses, report-writing, and media strategy.  Following the publication of the report, clinic students designed advocacy strategies to continue to generate attention to the report’s key findings and recommendations.

Clinics from NYU, Fordham, Harvard, Stanford, Charlotte, Loyola, and Rutgers participated in this cross-institution Project.

Related Documents

Suppressing Protest, Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street

OSCE Monitoring Report

Suggested List of Issues to Country Report Task Force on the United States

Media Coverage

“International Experts Criticize U.S. Response to Occupy; Clinic Presents at Conference on Protest Rights” (Human Rights Program blog, 11/9/12)

“Accusations of Police Misconduct Documented in Lawyers’ Report on Occupy Protests” (New York Times, 7/25/12)

“Did the NYPD Break International Law in Suppressing Protest?” (Alternet, 7/25/12)

“14 Specific Allegations of NYPD Brutality During Occupy Wall Street” (The Atlantic, 7/25/12)

“Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street” (Human Rights Program blog, 7/25/12)


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