In response to New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea’s tweet thread from May 31, 2020, the Justice Committee issued the following statement from Co-Director Loyda Colon:
Commissioner Shea’s tweet from earlier today is a thinly veiled call to war to the NYPD that will further embolden officers who have already been attacking New Yorkers.
To refer to the last few days of protests as “persistent danger, disrespect and denigration” equals the criminalization of our dissent and justified outrage. These protests are not only about demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Talyor, Tony McDade and others who were recently murdered by police. They are about being utterly beat down by and fed up with decades of police violence and other forms of systemic racism against Black and Brown communities. The real “persistent danger” is cities spending billions of dollars to police and criminalize us, while denying our communities affordable housing and quality healthcare, education and employment opportunities. It is politicians from “both sides of the aisle” consistently choosing to throw police at public health, economic, and social problems. It is the continued systemic lack of accountability for officers who murder, brutalize and commit misconduct. It’s the killings, beating, false arrests, harassment, and unjust stops, frisk and searches that we are forced to endure on a daily basis. It is officers with smiles giving out masks in affluent white communities and giving out beatings in our communities. We are rising up because we’re fighting for our right to live.
Commissioner Shea tweeted that he is proud of the way officers have “comported themselves.” Does that mean he’s proud that 90% of the NYPD’s social distancing arrests have targeted Black and Latinx New Yorkers? He’s proud of his officers: driving a vehicle into the middle of a rally, pulling down a young man’s mask and pepper spraying him in the face, using a car door to hit a protester, shoving a woman onto the street so violently that she went into seizure, and throwing up a “White Power” sign? Will he also be proud when his officers start killing protesters?
If Shea was truly committed to the safety of New Yorkers, he would start by: acknowledging the hundreds of years of police and state violence against Black and Brown communities, firing the officers who have killed and brutalized our loved ones, reining in his officers’ policing of protests, getting the NYPD out of social distancing enforcement, and supporting divestment from the NYPD and investment in our communities. Instead he’s chosen to respond with violence and escalation.
So, Commissioner Shea doesn’t like the way the protests have been going in the last few days? He just declared war on us. If his officers don’t stop their attacks on us, he’s going to like what comes next even less.