Contact: Mandela Jones 646-214-1031

Advocates Call for NYC Officials to Address Role of NYPD in Fueling Deportations & Incarceration

Mothers of New Yorkers killed by NYPD, community members urge end to policing policies & practices that feed New Yorkers into criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems


New Yorkers call for end to broken windows policing and passage of Right to Know Act to curb police abuses that target communities of color and immigrants

Elected officials and community leaders called for local actions to address abusive policing practices as proactive measures to fight against the Trump administration’s immigration and law enforcement agenda and advance consensus criminal justice reform goals. The group, including members of Communities United for Police Reform and the mothers of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD, specifically urged passage of the Right to Know Act by the New York City Council and an end to discriminatory “broken windows” policing. The enactment of the policies would help curb policing that targets communities of color, including immigrant New Yorkers, criminalizing and making them vulnerable to incarceration and federal immigration enforcement.

“Sanctuary doesn’t exist when communities are still being targeted by discriminatory NYPD policies and practices, which act as the principal pipeline to incarceration in our city’s jails and the federal immigration enforcement system,” said Shelby Chestnut, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. “It’s misleading to continue ignoring or minimizing the role that the NYPD plays in incarceration and deportation, and how substantive changes grounded in accountability could help establish justice, safety and real sanctuary for communities. Broken windows policing must be ended to disrupt the criminalization of communities that is consistent with Trump’s agenda and mass incarceration alike. Passage of the Right to Know Act is critical to curb the thousands of needless police interactions that are abusive, protecting New Yorkers’ rights and from being criminalized for exerting them.” 

Over the past several months, New York City officials have touted the city’s role as a “sanctuary city” in opposition to President Trump’s anti-immigrant, racist agenda. The NYPD’s continued use of discriminatory “broken windows” policing that targets communities of color, including immigrant New Yorkers, is a significant driver of the criminalization of communities that feeds into the immigration enforcement system. This abusive policing, targeted at certain communities, also significant contributes to New Yorkers being incarcerated at Rikers Island and other jails.

“Rikers Island is a human grist mill, and broken windows policing is the discriminatory and racially biased policy that feeds the conveyor belt into NYC's torture island,” said Glenn Martin, President & Founder of JustLeadershipUSA. “Mayor de Blasio constantly reminds New Yorkers that serious crime is at an all-time low. Now is the time for him and the NYC Council to show leadership, by re-envisioning our entire criminal justice system, beginning with the elimination of NYPD policies that are not only ineffective but have caused widespread destruction in communities of color. It’s time for the Council to pass the Right to Know Act and the mayor to make good on his pledge by ending broken windows policing.” 

New Yorkers continue to experience abuses in some of the most common interactions with NYPD officers. The Right to Know Act would help limit the abusive interactions New Yorkers’ have with NYPD officers by improving accountability and transparency. It would help protect New Yorkers’ rights and prevent incidents from escalating to unjust criminalization and retaliation when New Yorkers exert those rights.

The Trump administration’s executive orders and rhetoric on law enforcement only enable further criminalization of communities of color and policing abuses in cities, including New York. As law enforcement is empowered by the Trump administration to engage in abusive policing, it is even more critical to advance accountability and transparency in people’s most common encounters with their local police departments to prevent abuses.

“If New York wants to truly show that it is a Sanctuary City, it must move now to pass the Right to Know Act,” said Nahal Zamani, Advocacy Program Manager with the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Ensuring that New Yorkers’ rights are protected during policing encounters, and knowing that they have the right to object to unnecessary and unlawful searches will be a key step.”

The Right to Know Act legislation has been awaiting action in the New York City Council, continuing to gain additional co-sponsors and public support. There are now hundreds of organizations from across New York City neighborhoods and the nation supporting its passage. It also has a strong majority of City Council members supporting its passage – a veto proof majority of 37 sponsors on Intro 182 and a near-veto proof majority of 32 sponsors on Intro 541.

The policies of the legislation were endorsed by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing – co-chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson – as best practices for police departments across the country. The City Council’s own Young Women’s Initiative endorsed the policy objectives of the Right to Know Act. It has also been endorsed by faith leaders, local and national LGBTQ organizations, and over 130 feminist leaders from across the country.

Tanya Gumbs of the Young Women's Advisory Council Member at Girls for Gender Equity said: “Police can stop young women and TGNC folks and strip us of our rights and dignity, but we can't ask them to identify themselves? Cops should be required to identify themselves in non-emergency situations and tell people they have a right to deny a search! #Youth4RTKA”

Despite the fact that it is supported by a majority of New York City Council members, the legislation has yet to be passed and there have been attempts to obstruct it. It was revealed in July that a deal between the Speaker and former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton sought to avoid the legislation. The deal stripped out all of the substance and impact of the legislation, agreeing to only modify existing language in the NYPD Patrol Guide that is already routinely ignored. The deal has only increased demands for the legislation, as dozens of groups have joined the over 200 organizations who have endorsed it and several new Council members have co-sponsored it since the agreement, including most recently new Council Member Bill Perkins this week.

“Passing the Right to Know Act will be an absolutely essential step toward protecting our neighbors and each other in our day-to-day interactions with law enforcement,” said Julia Salazar, a member of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice. “We owe it to our community, and our city's leaders owe it to our communities, to have the courage to take this critical step toward police accountability in order to make New York a true sanctuary city for all of us.”

The Right to Know Act consists of two pieces of legislation to increase accountability and transparency to protect civilians’ rights and safety during their most common interactions with police officers.

  • The first bill, Intro 182, would require police officers to identify and explain themselves in a range of non-emergency situations where they subject someone to formal law enforcement activity.
  • The second bill, Intro 541, would protect civilians against unconstitutional searches, by requiring officers to receive proof of consent to searches in which the only legal basis is the person’s consent.

The bills are modeled on similar requirements already existing in other states and parts of federal consent decrees. The legislation would help address the accountability and transparency gaps in basic interactions that too often unnecessarily escalate because of a lack of information and respect for New Yorkers’ basic civil rights.

Kara Clark, a member of the Brooklyn Branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) stated: “DSA recognizes the Right to Know Act as a meaningful piece of police reform. We've been garnering support for the bill through tabling, phone banking and canvassing. We believe Right to Know Act is a way to protect and empower communities of color, which have suffered systematic abuse from the NYPD.”



About Communities United for Police Reform

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.

CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.

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Topics: Broken Windows Right to Know Act