Updated: Apr 10, 2019
In response to NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announcement that the Right to Know Act will not be considered for passage by the Council and that the NYPD will be allowed to handle changes internally instead, the Justice Committee issued the following statement from Co-Director Loyda Colon:
The Justice Committee is outraged by Speaker Mark-Viverito's attempt to gut the Right to Know Act by making a backroom deal with the NYPD, the very institution that is abusing our communities on a daily basis.
The watered-down patrol guide changes in the deal struck by Speaker Mark-Viverito and Commissioner Bratton are toothless and represent a step backwards on what already exists in the Patrol Guide.
Time and time again, we’ve seen that words in the NYPD Patrol Guide don’t amount to real change or police accountability. Two years ago Eric Garner was killed by a NYPD chokehold, when chokeholds have been banned in the Patrol Guide for decades - including before the killing of Anthony Baez by NYPD chokehold in 1994. Four years ago NYPD officers forced their way into Ramarley Graham's home, shot and killed him, and assaulted and abused his mother and grandmother, breaking countless Patrol Guide rules. Yet the officers involved in these horrendous acts have not been held accountable.
The Speaker, Mayor and all others supporting this deal with the NYPD are attempting to trade New Yorker’s safety and rights for meaningless paper changes in a book officers don’t read or follow. It’s disgusting.
Speaker Mark-Viverito has long promoted herself as an elected official who is “down with the people”. She has stood with the mothers of Anthony Baez, Jayson Tirado, Iman Morales and others who have been killed unjustly by the NYPD, at rallies organized by the Justice Committee (formerly known as the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights' NYC chapter)– and yet in this moment where she has the power to help end the most common daily abuses by the NYPD, she has chosen instead to align herself with Commissioner Bratton instead of the communities she is supposed to represent. She is selling out Puerto Ricans and all New Yorkers who are abused by the police for her own political gain.
Over the years, we’ve heard her repeatedly invoke the social justice leader and Justice Committee founder, Richie Perez, as a mentor and important leader, yet her actions are the exact opposite of everything Richie stood for. She does not deserve to speak his name without hanging her head in shame.
We don't need watered-down Patrol Guide changes and we don't need elected officials who will go behind the backs of the people and subvert the democratic process to make backroom deals with a corrupt and racist police department. We need the Right to Know Act passed into law now.