In early June, Julie Weiner was at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Yonkers, New York, when she spotted a small drone in the sky, monitoring the protest. Weiner, a long-time Yonkers resident, immediately asked her city councilperson, Shanae Williams, who had organized the rally, whether the drone was being operated by the Yonkers police. Williams went over to talk to a group of police and returned to report that, yes, the drone belonged to the Yonkers Police Department.

“That’s a problem,” Weiner told Williams. But Williams didn’t seem concerned and, according to Weiner, explained that it wasn’t an issue because anyone can own a drone.

Shortly after, Weiner, a licensed mental health counselor, former secretary of the Yonkers NAACP and a member of a local peace and justice group, sent an email to Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano, Police Commissioner John Mueller and City Council President Michael Khader, expressing concern that the Yonkers police drone surveillance that she had witnessed and photographed “may be a violation of our rights freely to assemble, and to be free from unwarranted searches or seizures.

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