As New Yorkers protested against racism and police brutality over the past few weeks, the NYPD was caught on video clashing with demonstrators several times: shoving a 20-year-old woman against the pavement, hitting individuals with batons, and driving into a crowd with an SUV.
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Repeated police killings of black Americans have sparked the widest push for law enforcement reform in years.
The nationwide movement fueled by George Floyd’s death last month has already kick-started change in cities and states. The coming months will help to determine just how far officials go in reshaping departments — and whether Congress will join state and local lawmakers in taking steps to overhaul policing.
Policymakers across the country have targeted several major areas in their reform discussions, including:
NEW YORK — For the past few weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio has struggled to communicate his alliance with New Yorkers troubled by police misconduct — marooning himself on a lonely island between the NYPD he oversees and a growing movement demanding it be reformed.
Now he appears to be finding some footing.
As protesters continue to meet a massive police presence on the streets of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city council are under pressure to defund the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and reduce its power. Momentum is building for cuts — the question is how substantial those cuts will be.
At a City Council hearing in late May, Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, urged for sweeping cuts to the proposed budget for the New York City Police Department.
“No one knows better than me that when you prioritize, fund, and shield the NYPD—instead of investing in our communities—the impact is devastating for black and Latinx communities,” she said. “In the most extreme cases, the impact is deadly. For me and my family, it means that Eric is gone forever.”
As the mass uprisings across the country continue, protestors and advocates are trying to hold public officials accountable for making real reforms.
As protests over the killing of George Floyd continue across the country, momentum in New York to repeal a decades-old police transparency law appears to be gaining steam, according to activists and legislators involved in the effort, in what they say would be a major step forward in the fight for police reform.
It’s the $1-billion solution.
Activists — and perhaps soon, some politicians — are focusing on cutting the $6-billion NYPD budget by $1 billion, and redistributed in a way that better benefits long-suffering communities and reduces police brutality.
At some point, history may show us that after years of aggression, after so much brutality that suggested so little fear of consequence, it took the looting of Chanel and the reversion of SoHo to a wasteland to disable a law that has made real police accountability so difficult in New York City. It required a political class moved by fear — of disorder and desecration — rather than compelled by the logic of justice, which had been obvious for so long.
Crowds took to the streets nearly a week ago in a rage after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, but as the protests move into their next phase, the question of what it will it take to quell them—what exactly that would look like—is gaining new urgency.
The answer is both simple and complicated. Above all, the protesters say they are looking for justice. But what justice looks like varies by city, by incident, and according to the community's history with police.