Koch says he doesn’t know whether the NYPD spied on Sharpton in the 1980s

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Ed Koch with police officers in 1986. (Ben Mormino via facebook)
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Former Newsday reporter Len Levitt wrote yesterday that the New York Police Department "continually spied on [Al] Sharpton in the 1980s."

The line came from a story that also revealed a confidential NYPD informant "infiltrated" a Sharpton meeting on March 3, 2008, as Sharpton's group was preparing protests in response to the Sean Bell verdict. NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne responded to that last point by saying that neither Sharpton nor his organization, but another person at the meeting, was the subject of the NYPD's interests back then. He did not elaborate.

I asked Ed Koch, who was mayor from 1978 to 1989 and clashed regularly with Sharpton (long before their recent, mutually beneficial public detente), about Levitt's claims about the police activities in the 1980s.

Koch said he was not aware that it had happened.

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I asked if whether that meant the police didn't continually spy on Sharpton back then.

"I didn't say that," Koch said. "I have no knowledge of it. I don't know whether they did conduct it or didn't conduct it. I didn't ask and I was never asked to ask by Sharpton or anybody else."