NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Owners of restaurants, bodegas, clubs and lounges in northern Manhattan are filing a federal lawsuit against the NYPD over sting operations aimed at cracking down on underage liquor sales.

Several hundred protesters rallied outside of police headquarters Thursday, chanting “Padlock Kelly.”

They’re accusing the NYPD of raiding their businesses in Washington Heights, Northern Manhattan and the Bronx and shutting them down for repeated violations.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

Some owners met with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in January to complain about the police practice of sending minors on multiple occasions to the same location to purchase beer.

They have called the practice questionable and claim they are being targeted.

“If you don’t do it on Park Avenue, you shouldn’t do it on Park Avenue in the Bronx; if you don’t do it in Midtown, you shouldn’t do it in Washington Heights,” Sen. Eric Adams said.

Fernando Mateo, spokesman for the Northern Manhattan Restaurant and Lounge Association, said the true goal of the raids isn’t to stop sales to minors but to levy huge fines and padlock businesses.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the department doesn’t target any establishment for underage drinking stinger operations that hasn’t already been identified by complaints.

“They’re identified by the complaints they receive and this happens throughout the city not just this area,” Browne said. “They’re complaining about the fact that we do it on multiple occasions. Well that’s the requirement of our law.”

By law, Brown said the NYPD must document three separate instances of a violation, in this case underage sales, before civil action can be taken.