Civil Liberties: Big Brother in New Jersey

Startled by the Newark riots in 1967, New Jersey officials took steps to be prepared for any future disturbances. At the suggestion of then-Attorney General Arthur Sills, police began compiling detailed dossiers on people taking part in demonstrations, even when the demonstrators violated no laws. The surveillance was promptly challenged by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Arguing that police intelligence-gathering activities would "intimidate and harass" demonstrators, the A.C.L.U. asked a superior court judge to order the investigations stopped, the dossiers destroyed.

The judge duly issued the order. Indiscriminate...

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