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May 29, 2020

NEW YORK Outrage and grief has swept the country in the wake of police violence directed at Black people, most recently the police killings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis. Americans have also witnessed likely law enforcement complicity in the Georgia murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the much-publicized implicit threat of police violence made by a dog owner against a bird watcher in Central Park, and now the endorsement of lethal violence by the president against protestors of police abuse in Minnesota.

The leadership of the NYCLU issued the following statement in solidarity with Black people experiencing police terror:

“The grief and horror of recent days, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, have been sharp, shocking, and enduring, but not surprising. Centuries of terror, violence, and white supremacy are inextricable parts of our ongoing American story, and have been driven by police targeting and extralegal killings of Black people. We see it in all corners of our country; in Ferguson, in Glynn County, in Louisville, in Minneapolis, in Staten Island.

“In the wake of these murders, Americans of all backgrounds have joined in mourning and rage. But the experience of Black people, the trauma of both the threat and execution of police violence, is a unique and enduring pain. It is a pain that is being inflicted right now on the streets of Minneapolis, as police meet demands for justice with provocation and violence. It is a pain magnified as the president threatens lethal force against protestors in a thinly-veiled attempt to distract from his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Black people.

“We acknowledge and validate this pain – whether we experience it ourselves or we find it in our homes, among our work colleagues, or in our communities. As advocates for racial justice and against police abuse, we bear witness, we stand in solidarity, and we join the demand for accountability and reform.

“There are steps New York must take urgently to challenge police violence.

“To end impunity, the New York state law known as 50-A must be repealed so that police disciplinary records are public. Americans know the Minneapolis officer responsible for George Floyd’s murder has a legacy of abuse only because his record is public. New Yorkers have no way of knowing just how many officers are similarly unfit to serve. New York must also abandon Broken Windows policing. This criminalization of so-called quality of life violations has meant a death sentence to New Yorkers like Eric Garner, and has fueled mass incarceration and racist enforcement that has affected entire communities.

“Policing also needs a culture shift. Too many communities of color remain targets for suspicion and over-policing, with street stops continuing to seek out disproportionate numbers of Black and brown New Yorkers, perpetuating the racist legacy of stop-and-frisk.

“These reforms are urgent, and lives hang in the balance. The terror must stop.”