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New York Police Act With Impunity During Protests

Government watchdog organization Broadcastify, which allows citizens to listen in on police and emergency band radio broadcasts, aired police transmissions as protestors moved June 1 into the 77th Precinct of Brooklyn. A police officer can be heard yelling, “Shoot the motherfuckers.”

While another responded with, “Don’t put that over the air.” Human rights activists said this is just another example of a long pattern of violence without fear of repercussion that is prevalent in law enforcement. While being called to protect and serve the public, police are instead engaging in combat with protesters.

A group of New York public defenders issued this statement June 2: “The disturbing videos and reports of the violent attacks by NYPD on protestors and the media, while traumatizing to watch, are all too familiar to us. They mirror the stories we hear every day of police acting with impunity, targeting, attacking, beating, lying, abusing, and disrespecting Black and brown people in the communities we serve in all five boroughs.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and Mayor Bill de Blasio, while condemning the police who killed Floyd in Minneapolis, sided with New York police in their efforts against protestors.

Meanwhile, the Civilian Complaint Review Board is still under coronavirus protocols and must do most of its work remotely. Because of such constraints, the panel is still clearing cases from before the onset of the pandemic. This, and the Patrolmans Benevolent Association’s uncooperative stance, have effectively stalled any investigations.

Even when investigations are completed, results have been kept from the public. Until recently, a state law referred to as “50-a” made all personnel records of police, including internal investigations, misconduct complaints and body camera footage “confidential and not subject to review.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a repeal of 50-a on June 12, thanks to the efforts of such groups as Justice Committee and Communities United For Police Reform.

Will making police records transparent hold more officers accountable? 


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