I drafted a law that helped clean up Times Square in the ‘70s. Today I think the NYPD is abusing it. And I’m a New York Daily News reporter covering the modern-day impact of this law. Ask us anything.
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I’m Sidney Baumgarten, the lawyer who wrote a law in the 1970s that helped clean up Times Square. It was called the Nuisance Abatement Law. With this law, the city could surprise a problem business with a closing order, obtained at an ex parte hearing, and immediately shut it down while the case was being decided. However, today, I think the NYPD abuses it. Here’s what I recently wrote about it for the New York Daily News.
I’m Sarah Ryley, an investigative reporter with the New York Daily News. I’ve spent the last two and a half years investigating the NYPD’s use of the nuisance abatement law. In partnership with ProPublica, we reviewed 1,162 nuisance abatement cases filed against businesses and residences over an 18-month period starting in 2013. We found the NYPD frequently used the law to kick people out of their homes who were not convicted of a crime; and to threaten mom-and-pop businesses with yearlong closures over relatively minor offenses, then extract settlements that include things like warrantless searches and cameras the police can access at any time. These cases target locations that are almost exclusively located in minority neighborhoods.
We are here to answer your questions about nuisance abatement actions in New York, including how they were intended to be used, how the NYPD uses them today, and why they almost exclusively target minority neighborhoods.