University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Color of Change v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security FA-NY-0007
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-08215 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization Center for Constitutional Rights
Case Summary
On October 20, 2016, Color of Change and Center for Constitutional Rights, nonprofit civil rights advocacy and communications organizations, brought this action under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by an attorney from the ... read more >
On October 20, 2016, Color of Change and Center for Constitutional Rights, nonprofit civil rights advocacy and communications organizations, brought this action under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by an attorney from the Milton Kramer Law Clinic at Case Western, an attorney from the Center for Constitutional Rights, and an attorney for Clifford Chance, sued the U.S. Department of Homeland security ("DHS") and the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), seeking declaratory, injunctive, and other appropriate relief to compel the defendants to produce records related to federal government surveillance and monitoring of protest activities related to the Movement for Black Lives ("MBL").

Following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, MBL gained national scope and influence, drawing public attention to police violence and advocating for police reform and racial justice. The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that government documents, news reports, and first-hand accounts demonstrated that the defendants, and state and local law enforcement agencies, had engaged in surveillance and monitoring of MBL demonstrations and individual activists aligned with the movement, using tactics and measures commonly reserved for counterterrorism and national security related purposes. They further alleged that this monitoring of legitimate protest activities undermined the First Amendment's protection of political speech, and would chill valuable public debate about police violence, including use of deadly force, criminal justice, and racial inequities.

On July 5 2016, the plaintiffs submitted their FOIA request to DHS and the FBI:

On July 18, 2016, DHS's privacy office sent a letter to the plaintiffs acknowledging receipt of the request. DHS denied the plaintiffs' request for expedited processing and a fee waiver, which the plaintiffs appealed. On August 29, 2016, DHS acknowledged that it had received the appeal, but never responded to it.

On September 27, 2016, the plaintiffs received a response from the Office of Intelligence & Analysis, a component of DHS, claiming that a search of its files revealed no records responsive to the plaintiffs' request. The plaintiffs appealed that decision based on the Office of Intelligence and Analysis' failure to perform an adequate search for records and its improper reliance on FOIA exemptions to avoid searching for, or producing, responsive records. On October 20, the plaintiffs received an acknowledgment from DHS regarding the appeal, but did not receive any other response or correspondence.

On July 28, 2016, the FBI sent a letter acknowledging receipt of the plaintiffs' request. Unlike DHS, the FBI granted the plaintiffs' request for expedited processing, however, it did not indicate whether processing had begun or when it would be complete. On September 20, 2016, the plaintiffs sent the FBI a letter requesting that the FBI notify them of when to expect to receive documents responsive to their request, but the FBI never responded.

An initial pretrial conference was originally set for January 20, 2017, before U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III.

After several motions to push back the date of the initial pretrial conference, the conference was held on February 24, 2017.

Another status conference was held on April 21, 2017. During this conference, the parties agreed to the discovery schedule of 500 pages per month of responsive documents.

A status conference is set for May 18, 2018.

The case is ongoing.

Saeeda Joseph-Charles - 11/17/2016
Taylor Brook - 03/12/2018

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. ยง 552
Defendant(s) United States Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description Color of Change and Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy and communications organization, and Center for Constitutional Rights, a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Center for Constitutional Rights
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
1:16-cv-8215 (S.D.N.Y.)
FA-NY-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
FA-NY-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Pauley, William H. III (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cover, Avidan Yehuda (Ohio) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0007-0001 | FA-NY-0007-9000
Farah, Omar (New York) show/hide docs
FA-NY-0007-0001 | FA-NY-0007-9000
Llanes, Stephanie (New York) show/hide docs
Schwarz, Ghita (New York) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Jude, Jennifer Ann (New York) show/hide docs
Onozawa, Tomoko (New York) show/hide docs

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -