Vital records detailing the NYPD's surveillance and possible infiltration of the Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords, in the 1960s and 70s have gone missing. NY1 Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger has the details.

"I have a feeling deep down in my heart that those records are destroyed," Felipe Luciano said.

Luciano is talking about documents that the NYPD kept on its surveillance of the activist Puerto Rican group Luciano co-founded, the Young Lords Party.

Baruch College history professor, Johanna Fernandez, is battling the city police department to produce records it has on the group from the 1960s and 70s,"who were violently disrupted by the state, by both the FBI and the NYPD," Fernandez said. "Members of the Young Lords want to know who did the violent disruption and how."

The Young Lords fought to improve the lives of Puerto Ricans in New York. Fernandez says she's been trying for ten years to get the records of what she calls illegal surveillance of the group.

In 2014, she sued the NYPD to produce thousands of documents. After a search, the department said the records were lost.

"It's not at all unusually or nefarious that physical documents — old folders from the 1970s — have disappeared," said Lawrence Byrne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for legal matters. "But this goes back 45 years. It's unfortunate, we'll continue to search for it, but we haven't been able to locate it."

Fernandez says the documents would detail the city police department's involvement with the group.

The Young Lords had several clashes with police officers, and believed informants and undercovers infiltrated them.

"There were some who slipped in," Luciano said. "Who are they and are they still working within Puerto Rican organizations to destroy them from within?"

A judge recently dismissed the professor's lawsuit, saying she doubted whether more searching would turn up the documents. 

Fernandez says she plans to appeal or file a new lawsuit to expand the search.

She says the documents are important for future generations, "especially as we see the resurgence of activist movements today — Black Lives Matter, Occupy [Wall Street]…a movement to save the environment," Fernandez said.

Fernandez also wants the mayor and city council to order the NYPD to find the records on the Young Lords.