NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — More than 50 advocacy groups have asked an inspector general to probe how the New York Police Department polices the homeless.

Communities United for Police Reform released a letter sent to NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure on Monday.

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“Homeless New Yorkers are entitled to the same rights as any other resident of the city, but some accounts appear to indicate that police have participated in activity violating that notion,” part of the letter states.

The groups claim that officers have for more than two years unfairly targeted homeless people. They say officers in East Harlem have forced homeless people to leave public spaces and confiscated or destroyed their personal property.

MORE: Read The Full Letter

“…We believe this goes all the way up to Bill Bratton as Police Commissioner,” said Nahal Damani, advocacy program manager for the Center for Constitutional rights. “It’s under his watch, it’s provision that such things are taking place — and it can not happen without his knowledge and acquiescence. So this really goes all the way up to the leadership of the NYPD.”

Bratton received backlash last year after advising the public to not assist the homeless by giving them money.

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“My best advice to the citizens of New York City – if this is so upsetting to you, don’t give,” Bratton told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer in November 2015.

The group also cites a December 2015 lawsuit filed by advocacy group Picture the Homeless, which claims that several homeless people had all of their belongings thrown into a sanitation truck during a sweep on 125th Street in Harlem. The group also criticizes Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to crack down on homeless encampments throughout the city.

“That’s really a violation of their rights and their ability to survive and get access to services,” Damani told 1010 WINS. “So what we’re really seeing is the clearing of homeless people is absolutely violating their rights and harming them…”

The letter comes as city officials struggle to serve an increasing number of homeless New Yorkers.

A spokeswoman says the inspector general is aware of the request. She didn’t comment further.

The police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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