NEW YORK - The city has agreed to destroy hundreds of fingerprints taken from protesters arrested at this summer's Republican National Convention, the New York Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday.
The destruction of the fingerprints comes two weeks after the legal rights group filed two lawsuits challenging the routine fingerprinting of protesters accused of misdemeanors, NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman said.
Under state law, police may take fingerprints of those charged with minor violations such as disorderly conduct only if they can't ascertain a person's identity, suspect the identification given by the person is inaccurate, or reasonably believe the person is being sought for another crime, Lieberman said.
"Certainly, it should not be a routine outcome for those who are arrested after they engage in a political protest," Lieberman said in a statement.
The New York Police Department routinely expunges fingerprints and notified the NYCLU only because of the lawsuits it filed, police spokesman Paul Browne said.
"No one should be fooled by the NYCLU's face-saving attempt to declare victory," Browne said.
He said allegations that the NYPD used the convention arrests to establish fingerprint records on political activists were false.
More than 1,800 people were arrested during the four-day convention, which started Aug. 30. Most arrests were for minor violations, such as disorderly conduct.
The two lawsuits claim the mass arrests and detentions were illegal.
© 2004 AP