Communities United for Police Reform Hails Councilmember Williams’ NYPD Reform Package
Members of Communities United for Police Reform, a new grassroots campaign of community members and advocacy organizations formed to end discriminatory stop-and-frisk and related practices, today hailed Councilmember Jumaane Williams' NYPD reform legislation on the City Hall steps.
"Stop and Frisk and police discrimination are out of control in New York City. This long overdue legislative package will stop the NYPD from targeting hundreds of thousands of people – the vast majority of whom have done nothing wrong – and submitting them to humiliating searches and harassment in their homes, at AT schools and in neighborhoods across the city," said Steve Kohut of the Justice Committee.
"As someone who has personally experienced the NYPD's policy of racial profiling through stop and frisk, this campaign and the bills being introduced today are very important to me and my community. The everyday harassment of people of color in this city, by those who are employed to serve and protect is a contradiction that must no longer be tolerated," said Djibril Toure of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
The legislative package introduced by Councilmember Williams today includes a series of bills that would crack down on discriminatory police practices by: strengthening the definition of discrimination, ensuring that New Yorkers understand their right to not consent to searches where no probable cause or warrant exists, and requiring that NYPD officers identify themselves when conducting stop-and-frisk or other police activity. Future legislation, also to be introduced by Councilmember Williams, would create an Inspector General Office to assess the impact of NYPD practices on the rights of New Yorkers, and would require NYPD reporting data on low level offenses to include demographic information. A fact sheet on the complete legislative package is attached.
"These discriminatory policies and practices only destroy the relationship between police and communities of color. These policies don't improve the quality of life for people in my community and they don't make us safer," said Alfredo Carrasquillo, VOCAL-NY.
"The NYPD wants to create public safety but is instead instilling fear among immigrant communities. While officers believe that they are creating safety by stopping innocent New Yorkers, they are really creating enemies who will be less likely to report crime when it does happen," said Oscar Ibarra, a member of Make the Road New York.
"The reality is that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth of color - like myself - and young women of color are among the 684,000 people who were stopped and frisked by the NYPD last year," added Chris Bilal from Streetwise and Safe. "In addition to racial profiling and harassment, we experience police profiling based on gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, sexual harassment, homophobic and transphobic abuse, and inappropriate and unlawful searches. These bills are historic because for the first time, we are saying that LGBT people don't just want to be able to marry, we want to be free from discrimination and abuse from the police."
"Homeless New Yorkers are forced to live in public spaces where the NYPD do their work, so there is constant interaction between us and the NYPD. All too frequently, I have been harassed by the police for no other reason than that I am homeless, and I am African American. I have had my possessions searched without cause or consent, and even been pepper-sprayed for refusing an illegal search. These bills will put an end to discriminatory police practices that violate our rights without making New York City safer," said Jean Rice, a member of Picture the Homeless.
"Hardly a day goes by without another story of NYPD abuse hitting the news and undermining the ability of the community to trust the police department," said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "The landmark legislation introduced today will put New York City at the forefront nationally in the effort to combat discriminatory policing."
"Too often, the NYPD operates within a culture of impunity. CPR demands that the NYPD that is accountable and transparent to all New Yorkers. These bills are a critical first step towards justice," said Nahal Zamani, Advocacy Program Manager of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
"The NYPD's out of control stop and frisk program led to more than half a million New Yorkers suffering the indignity of unjustified, intrusive and discriminatory encounters with police officers in 2011," said Andrew Friedman, of the Center for Popular Democracy. "In addition to being an affront to all New Yorkers who believe in equal justice, the status quo is an obscene waste of money. Law enforcement resources should be devoted to law enforcement, not discriminatory harassment of New Yorkers."
"Every day, people in our Bronx community are profiled, stopped, and illegally searched by NYPD officers. 88% of these stops don't lead to any arrest at all. Arrests that do result from these stops are usually for minor charges that nonetheless cause severe damage to entire families, including lost jobs and lost homes. This legislation is a crucial first step toward reforming NYPD policies and practices that are harming the communities they are meant to serve," said Robin Steinberg, Executive Director of The Bronx Defenders.
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.