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Denver mayor won't allow destruction of secret police files

By The Associated Press

07.23.02

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DENVER — Siding with civil rights advocates, Mayor Wellington Webb said yesterday that he would ignore an independent panel's recommendation to destroy secret police files of political activists.

The American Civil Liberties Union disclosed the existence of the police files in March and sued the city to preserve the documents until questions were answered about why they were kept.

"They definitely document police misconduct," said Mark Silverstein, Colorado ACLU executive director. "We need to know why police regarded peaceful political protests as crime scenes."

Webb received recommendations from a panel of three former judges who found that none of the 3,200 files on individuals or 208 files on organizations met reasonable standards of criminal activities. A member of the American Friends Service Committee, a Philadelphia-based Quaker group that has won the Nobel Peace Prize, was among those in the files.

Panel member Roger Cisneros, a retired Denver judge, said police wrongly labeled political groups as extremists because they were believed to have caused problems in other cities.

The mayor agreed with the judges that the files should be removed from the police computer system, and that individuals and organizations mentioned in them should be allowed to see what was written.

Webb spokesman Andrew Hudson said steps were under way to ensure police keep the files only when there is reasonable suspicion of possible criminal activity.

Previous

Panel: People listed in 'spy files' should be allowed to review reports
But recommendation that Denver police records on 3,277 individuals, 208 groups should be destroyed after 60 days draws fire from ACLU.  07.06.02

Related

Police to use cameras to monitor D.C. demonstrations
Officials say they're publicizing the plans to comply with ordinance requiring advance notice when tactic is to be used.  12.23.02

Maine activists protest police surveillance at demonstrations
Civil libertarian contends people have right to engage in anonymous political activity without being monitored by police.  10.22.02

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