The Justice Committee condemns the NYPD’s use of physical violence and inhumane treatment of New Yorkers last night in New York City at the protest held to demand police accountability and justice for Freddie Gray. Protesters were pushed around, slammed into the ground, pushed over police barricades, and pulled out of peaceful marches and unjustly arrested.
In Time Square protesters were held handcuffed on an NYPD bus for over two hours without access to water or a bathroom. When Justice Committee members and allies approach an NYPD lieutenant to ask when the bus would be taking the arrestees to be processed, he responded with disrespect and violence. He aggressively pushed two women up an entire block and then had three uniformed officers surround them prior to answering the question.
This unaccountable, abusive policing can only cause further mistrust and, frankly, hatred for the NYPD.
The attack on New Yorkers by the NYPD last night is simply the latest in a long list of evidence that the current administration is not serious about remedying the problem of abusive, discriminatory policing in our city. Along with the unjust killings of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Ramarley Graham and too many others and the lack of justice in these cases thus far, other examples include Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton’s on-going support of Broken Windows policing, the Mayor’s attempts to change a supreme court ruling that would give NYPD officers the ability to arrest without warning (something we saw happening last night); and the call of City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito and many other council members to add 1000 new officers to the force.
These days we hear city officials talk about “community policing” and “bettering police-community relations” a lot. Needless to say, when the NYPD disrespects, attacks and unjustly arrests New Yorkers who are exercising their first amendment right to call for justice, they are taking us in the opposite direction. Until we see substantial changes in the way the NYPD treats New Yorkers – especially in communities of color – these discussions are premature and meaningless. Towards this end, we demand:
An end to Broken Windows Policing and other discriminatory and abusive policing policies.
Passage of the Right to Know Act, which will require officers to identify themselves during interactions with New Yorkers and inform them of their right to not consent to a search when there is no legal justification.
The establishment of a special prosecutors for all cases involving civilians killed by police and/or while in police custody, as well as excessive force cases.
Development and implementation of a comprehensive accountability system that includes clear consequences in NYPD disciplinary procedures for officers who utilize unjustified excessive or deadly force.
A holistic approach to community safety that does not rely on over-policing and criminalization. There should be investment in anti-violence programs and practices that do not rely on the police; youth and adult education and employment programs; affordable, permanent housing for poor and low-income New Yorkers, and other proven human and social services.