New York state assemblyman Michael Blake yesterday filed a formal complaint against the NYPD after an officer lifted him and slammed him against a gate when he tried to diffuse a street confrontation. The Bronx assemblyman filed his complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, claiming excessive force by the NYPD, which he described as being related to his race. The incident occurred just as use of force by police against black people has become a pressing local and national issue.

The New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement in response, attributable to Executive Director Donna Lieberman:

“Five years after the arrest of City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, New Yorkers are once again shocked by the NYPD’s use of force against another black public figure, Assemblyman Michael Blake. The officers involved in the use of excessive force against Assemblyman Blake must be held accountable. But for the sake of the countless black New Yorkers whose experiences with NYPD excessive force go unreported, we need to do more to end the toxic policing culture in New York City. The City Council should enact the Right to Know Act – which will help create a culture of de-escalation and respect for New Yorkers of all races in all communities. Officers need meaningful training on de-escalation and racial bias that should be part of their evaluations, and every use of force should be transparent to the public. If New York City values and respects black lives, change must come from the top and reforms must be undertaken immediately.”