NEW YORK – This week New York made enormous strides toward ending a culture of police impunity, increasing accountability for officers who commit violence, and bringing justice for the many Black and Brown New Yorkers whose loved ones have been killed by police. This victory is the result of years of tireless advocacy from Black leaders in communities impacted by police violence and an outpouring of support from tens of thousands statewide who marched and rallied in support of the Movement for Black Lives.
“George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and so many more people should still be here today,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “Nothing can compensate for the people lost to police violence, but these changes bring a measure of justice and comfort for their loved ones. Accountability and transparency alone aren’t enough to limit the harms of dangerous and violent policing, but these protections are a long overdue check on police power.”
The long list of police reforms passed this week deliver changes that have been demanded for six years. The mothers and family members of those lost to police violence sustained this movement and returned month-after-month and year-after-year to lobby lawmakers, educate the public, and organize communities.
Those reforms include:
- Repealing 50-a
- Passing the STAT Act
- Codifying the Office Special Investigator into law
- Affirming the right to record police
These important steps reflect a strong consensus in Albany that there is a serious problem with anti-Black racism in policing and the countless ways in which law enforcement is designed to target communities of color. But the problems go deeper and won’t be addressed without a fundamental rethinking of policing in our society.
This long campaign built the foundation for the bold new demands that echoed throughout New York streets the last two weeks: a full reckoning with the role of police in our communities, a new vision of public safety, and a serious confrontation with the impact of systemic racism and centuries of violence against Black and Brown people.
“The idea that law enforcement should enjoy limitless authority and an ever-increasing share of public resources cannot continue after this week,” said Donna Lieberman. “Our long-held fixation on policing our way out of problems has served white supremacy at the direct expense of Black and Brown people. We need a new vision of health and safety, and reinvesting police dollars toward solutions that work must be a central part of this. Defunding the police will help rein in the violence and abuse that has become all too evident. As we emerge from a pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black people it’s our responsibility to recognize all the ways racist systems continue to threaten Black lives and seriously take on the work of creating lasting change.”