Families of New Yorkers Killed by Police, Community Orgs, Elected Officials, March from Barclays Center to Bed-Stuy to Demand Justice for NYPD Killings
Groups demand to #DefundNYPD in FY22
Today, families whose loved ones have been killed by the NYPD, Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), Make the Road New York, Justice Committee, Brooklyn Movement Center, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and other CPR member and partner groups, including Citizen Action of New York, Color of Change, Equality for Flatbush (E4F), Housing Works, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), New York City Anti-Violence Project, New York Working Families Party, TakeRoot Justice, and VOCAL-NY, led a march, starting at Barclays Center to Herbert Von King Park in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn to demand the firing of NYPD officers who have killed New Yorkers and to demand Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council #DefundNYPD and redirect monies to community needs. The march marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Below are the statements from the families, organizers, and elected officials, who marched to demand the firing of officers who have killed New Yorkers as well as significant cuts to the NYPD’s budget, size, scope, and power:
Eric Vassell, father of Saheed Vassell: “The families are demanding Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council defund the NYPD and put that money into the services Black and brown communities need. We need to completely remove police from mental health response. We need an NYPD hiring freeze and the elimination of dangerous units like the Strategic Response Group, which murdered my son, Saheed Vassell.”
Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah: “My son, Mohamed Bah's case clearly shows: we need to defund the NYPD and completely remove police from mental health response. The families will not stand for weak bills that don’t change anything from Mayor de Blasio and the City Council. Mayor de Blasio must fire the officers who killed Mohamed and all our loved ones and New York City must defund the NYPD. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Samy Feliz, brother of Allan Feliz: “My brother, Allan Feliz, was unjustly murdered by the NYPD in 2019 during an illegal traffic stop. Sergeant Jonathan Rivera, who fired the shot that killed Allan, had previously shot and paralyzed an unarmed 16-year-old in Brooklyn in 2016. Allan's life mattered. Our family and the Washington Heights community are still grieving this painful loss. Allan left behind a baby and always dedicated his time and money to supporting neighborhood youth and helping people when they didn't have enough money for food or transportation. I am making these demands in my brother's name: Mayor de Blasio must fire the officers who killed Allan Feliz; including Officers Michelle Almanzar, Edward Barrett, and SGT Rivera as well as the officers that murdered Kawaski Trawick, Eric Garner, Delrawn Small, Antonio Williams, Mohamed Bah. In addition, we demand Mayor and City Council defund the NYPD and invest that money in impacted communities across our city NOW."
Ileana Mendez-Peñate, Communities United for Police Reform: “Today we honor the New Yorkers who have been killed by the NYPD by demanding transformative change in our city and an end to police violence. Transformative change will only happen if we make significant cuts to the NYPD’s budget, size, scope, and power. We’re here today to demand that Mayor de Blasio stop allowing the NYPD to operate with complete impunity, fire the officers who have killed New Yorkers, and that he, and the City Council, significantly reduce the NYPD’s bloated $6B budget in FY22.”
Keyanna, Youth Leader with Make The Road New York: “Police do not make our schools safe. Well-resourced communities do! School policing criminalizes Black, Latinx, and students with disabilities. We are demanding the City uses this budget to deliver us transformational change that eliminates school police and invests in guidance counselors, social workers, student success centers, and restorative justice. Invest in an equitable future for all New York City youth by redirecting the more than $400 million for School Safety and redirecting those monies to meet our social, emotional, and mental health needs”
Loyda Colon (they/them), Executive Director of the Justice Committee: “NYC spends tens of millions of dollars to keep cops who kill on the NYPD payroll every year – and even more for police who brutalize and harass New Yorkers. We need Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and Councilmembers to stop saying the names of people killed by police and do what’s in their power – they need to make sure the NYPD fires the cops who killed Mohamed Bah, Allen Feliz, Antonio Williams, Eric Garner, Delrawn Small and Kawaski Trawick – and they need to defund the NYPD and redirect that money for massive investments in our commujnities for jobs, housing, food and income security – not more police.”
Sala Cyril (she/her), Lead Organizer, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement: "We are taking to the streets to remind our communities that we have a right to be safe in our neighborhoods. We have a right to be safe in our homes. We have a right to be safe in our bodies. Being Black doesn't change that right. George Floyd was murdered as an ongoing part of police terror. Ma'Khia Bryant, Eric Garner, Delrawn Small, and so many more have lost their lives at the hands of police. As the pandemic hopefully wanes, we are still a city with limited resources and we must ensure that those resources benefit everyone. We demand the NYC budget be reallocated to shift the funds that bloat the NYPD budget towards police-free schools, affordable homes and other resources that remind us that we are human and have a right to thrive, healthy and alive."
Council Member Antonio Reynoso: "The public murder of George Floyd last May was a brutal wake up call for the country that racism and brutality are still deeply ingrained in our system of policing. Since that tragic day, millions of people have risen up to demand systemic change; that black and brown communities who have been divested for decades, finally receive the resources they need to thrive. George Floyd changed the world, on the one-year anniversary of his passing, it is incumbent upon us to honor his legacy and fight for a society that is truly just, investing in and valuing those who have historically been marginalized."
Council Member Brad Lander: “When New Yorkers took to the streets last summer after George Floyd was murdered, the demands for justice and a transformation in how our city funds public safety were loud and clear. In the year since, far too little has changed. Not only did promised changes to the NYPD budget never come to pass, the City now plans to increase spending on policing while continuing to underfund community safety strategies like cure violence programs and mental health responders. As we remember and celebrate the life of George Floyd, we renew our efforts to bring real safety to all NYC’s communities.”
Keli Young (she/her), Civil Rights Campaign Coordinator, VOCAL-NY: "We are contending with a centuries-old legacy of systemic terror targeted at Black people and made legitimate through the creation of a police force. This cannot be trained or reformed away. Our safety and well-being requires a significant divestment in policing and an outpouring of community resources and investments."
Amber Rivero, NYC Citizen Action Chapter member of Citizen Action of New York: "Defunding the police is imperative to a just and equitable New York City. The bloated budget of the NYPD leaves New Yorkers with an underfunded education, housing, and social welfare system. And for those of us who are Black and brown – the defund movement is not theoretical – it is the very choice between life or death. Choose life for us and our families – continue the fight to defund the police and invest in our communities."
Reem Ramadan (she/her), Lead Organizer, New York City Anti-Violence Project: “Our organization was formed as an alternative response to address violence, particularly police violence, towards LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities through our 24hour bilingual hotline. 41 years later, our community is still criminalized, targeted and harassed by NYPD. We stand with our partners and with the families who have lost loved ones by the hands of police to demand justice and #DefundNYPD.”
Jaron Benjamin (he/his, they/them), VP for Community Mobilization and National Advocacy at Housing Works: "Our communities are too often the target of NYPD violence. We must remove armed police from homeless services and mental health wellness checks as a public health necessity. We join the co-organizers of this march to call for moving funding from the NYPD budget, and investing that money in social services and real community solutions in the next city budget. We also demand justice for the families and loved ones of Black and indigenous New Yorkers of color killed by the NYPD."
Background on Delrawn Small
On July 4, 2016, in East New York, Brooklyn, 37-year-old Delrawn Small was shot and killed by NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs. The killing occurred just one day before Alton Sterling was killed by police in Louisiana and two days prior to Philando Castile being killed by police in Minnesota. Officers in both cases are no longer with their respective police departments, while Isaacs is still employed by the NYPD nearly five years later. Isaacs killed Delrawn in front of his loved ones, including his four-month-old baby, 14-year-old stepdaughter, and girlfriend.
Security footage showed that Isaacs shot Delrawn Small, who was unarmed, within seconds and without provocation. After shooting Small, Isaacs left him to bleed to death on the ground, offering no emergency aid and never even communicating that he had shot someone in his 911 call. In October of 2020, the NYPD served disciplinary charges on Isaacs that were substantiated by the CCRB, but a discipline trial for Wayne Isaacs has not yet been scheduled.
Background on Kawaski Trawick
On April 14, 2019, 32-year-old Kawaski Trawick, a Black queer man, was locked out of his apartment at Hill House in the Bronx. The fire department let him into his apartment. By the time NYPD officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis arrived, Kawaski was already back in his apartment cooking. Kawaski asked the officers multiple times “Why are you in my home?” and explained, “I’m cooking.” The officers repeatedly escalated the incident by breaking the chain on Kawaski's door to enter the apartment, refusing to answer Kawaski when he repeatedly asked “Why are you in my home?” and instead shouted orders at him, tased him without cause, and killed Kawaski within 112 seconds of their arrival. The NYPD refused to release full, unedited footage of the incident for 20 months – only releasing unedited footage to a legal organization, following a FOIL request.
Background on Antonio Williams
On September 29, 2019, Antonio Williams was standing on the street, waiting for a taxi, when plainclothes officers in an unmarked car jumped out of their car at him in the middle of the night. NYPD officers chased, tackled, and beat Mr. Williams. NYPD officers recklessly opened fire, killing both Williams and an NYPD officer, Brian Mulkeen, in a reckless hail of 15 bullets – some shot from over 50 feet away. After the Williams family demanded they be able to view an NYPD-produced video before it was publicly released, the NYPD promised the Williams family they would delay public release so that all interested members of the Williams family could view footage—a promise they failed to keep.
In November of 2020, the family of Antonio Williams sued the City of New York and the NYPD following the release of security footage that supports the family’s statements that the NYPD engaged in an unconstitutional stop. In April 2021, the Bronx DA Darcel Clark refused to prosecute the officers who killed Antonio. The Williams family is demanding that Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD fire all officers responsible for the killing of Antonio WIlliams.
Background on Eric Garner
In July 2014, Officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner using a chokehold banned by the NYPD for more than two decades. The killing was captured on video, which showed a number of officers using force for the illegal arrest and many who failed to intervene or provide aid while Garner said "I can't breathe" eleven times. NYPD officials and officers also attempted to cover-up the killing, first claiming that Garner died of a heart attack, illegally leaking sealed medical and other records to criminalize Garner and lying on official reports.
It has been nearly seven years since Garner was killed and only Officer Daniel Pantaleo and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis have faced disciplinary action. In August 2019, Eric Garner’s mother, sister, and Ramarley Graham’s mother, along with members of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), announced the filing of a petition to demand a judicial inquiry into the violation and neglect of duty by Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner O’Neill and others related to the unjust killing of Eric Garner. The family is calling on Mayor de Blasio to fire Lt. Christopher Bannon, officer Justin D’Amico, and the others involved.
Background on Mohamed Bah:
On Sept. 25, 2012, Mohamed Bah, a Muslim immigrant from Guinea, was killed by the NYPD after his mother, Hawa Bah, called 911 for an ambulance for her son, who she believed was in emotional distress and needed medical attention. Instead, the NYPD arrived first, Emergency Services Unit officers forced their way into Mohamed’s apartment – against NYPD protocol and without a warrant – and killed him. Evidence shows that the last shot was fired at close range by NYPD ESU Officer Edwin Mateo, while Bah lay on the ground. Edwin Mateo, Andrew Kress and Michael Green shot Mohamed a total of eight times. Lt. Michael Licitra was supervising them and allowed this to happen.
None of the officers involved in Mohamed’s death were held accountable for killing Mohamed Bah.
Background on Allan Feliz
On October 17, 2019, NYPD Sgt. Jonathan Rivera and Officers Michelle Almanzar and Edward Barrett killed Allan Feliz. They racially profiled Allan, wrongfully stopped him while he was driving and escalated the situation. Sgt. Rivera shot him. The officers tased him multiple times, dragged him out of the car, causing him to become undressed, cuffed him, and left him exposed and bleeding out for the world to see. Attorney General James declined to pursue charges against the officers who murdered Allan. The family is calling for Mayor de Blasio to fire NYPD Sgt. Jonathan Rivera and Officers Michelle Almanzar and Edward Barrett.
Background on Saheed Vassell
On April 4, 2018, Saheed Vassell, an unarmed son, father, brother and beloved Crown Heights member was killed by NYPD officers from the hyper-militarized Strategic Response Group and plainclothes unit in broad daylight, in a hail of at least 10 bullets. His death occurred on the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.Four out of five officers on the scene reportedly shot at Saheed immediately upon arriving and exiting their cars. According to the Attorney General's report, no civilian witnesses stated that they heard officers identify themselves, or issue any warnings or verbal commands before shooting Saheed, and no civilian witness corroborate the police account of Saheed's actions the moment he was shot.
It was only through media leaks in late July 2018 that the public learned the names of police officers involved in Saheed’s death, for 16 weeks after Saheed was killed, Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD refused to release the names of the officers. The NYPD selectively released information, including doctored pictures and selectively-edited video. They even unlawfully leaked sealed information about Vassell’s alleged summonses and criminal justice history.To the Vassell family's knowledge, no involved officers have been served administrative charges or placed on modified duty.
Background on Budget
Last year, Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and our #NYCBudgetJustice coalition of over 200 local and national organizations demanded that at least $1 billion be cut directly from the NYPD FY21 expense budget and redirected to core services programs and infrastructure for Black, Latinx and other communities of color to have a chance at an equitable COVID-19 recovery. While Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson committed to defunding the NYPD by $1B they instead used funny math and budget tricks to try to mislead New Yorkers, but one thing is clear: NYPD’s budget for FY21 was not meaningfully reduced.
- The Mayor and Speaker Johnson allowed the NYPD to be exempt from a hiring freeze, despite other City agencies being subjected to hiring freezes.
- Some City Council members attempted to erase the leadership of many Black, Latinx and other #DefundNYPD leaders and organizers of color who were fighting for communities.
- The NYPD has completely blown past its overtime budget for the year already, spending millions of dollars to police protests at which the NYPD brutalized and beat New Yorkers, and suppressed their human rights.
- The Mayor and some Councilmembers have promoted the myth that the NYPD was defunded as a way to obscure the failure of the NYPD in preventing hate violence and gun violence.
Now, communities are demanding that City Council make good on their promise last year to significantly decrease the NYPD’s bloated $6B expense budget and redirect resources to Black, Latinx and other communities of color
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 reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing 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 most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.