Over 75 Grassroots Organizations, Community Groups, and Legal Advocates Demand Mayor Adams Immediately Halt Plans to Expand NYPD’s Power and Scope
In a letter, organizations call for an end to Mayor Adams’ “Neighborhood Safety Teams” and other proposals that will put more police on the street
Today, over 75 organizations sent a letter to Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council ahead of the Mayor’s trip to Washington to share his new and deeply regressive “Blueprint to End Gun Violence” with Congress. The letter details community demands to address violence by using real public health solutions through investments in communities and called for an end to Mayor Adams’ proposals that expand policing and further criminalize Black, Latinx, and other New Yorkers of color. The letter, organized by Communities United for Police Reform, included signatories from all five boroughs and a wide range of organizations specializing in community organizing, civil rights, youth development, and interpersonal violence reduction.
The letter comes after multiple organizations condemned Mayor Adams’ blueprint for its regressive policies that will target Black, Latinx, and other communities of color and increase interactions between communities and the abusive practices of the NYPD. The letter also comes right before the Mayor is due to testify in Congress on his plan without meaningful conversation and buy in from the many residents, community groups and advocates that represent communities most impacted by abusive policing.
The letter stated: “Mayor Adams’ regressive plan will put Black, Latinx, and other communities of color at serious risk of increased police violence and unnecessary contact with the criminal legal system. To expand policing and criminalization two years into a global health pandemic will harm communities that Adams is allegedly trying to help.”
The letter also demands that Mayor Adams “immediately halt plans to further resource plainclothes officers and Mayor Adams’ so-called “Neighborhood Safety Teams." The NYPD’s plainclothes specialty units - including the former iteration of the Neighborhood Safety Teams, the Anti-Crime Unit, also known as the “Street Crime Unit” before that – are characterized by an overly aggressive mandate that proactively and aggressively targets Black and Latinx communities. They are notorious for racial profiling, violence, unconstitutional stops, and the suppression of New Yorkers’ rights. In the early 2000s, groups led by the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights—known today as the Justice Committee—alongside Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other allies that later founded Communities United for Police Reform, successfully won the dismantling of the Street Crimes Unit. Since then, Mayors and the NYPD have attempted to rebrand and “retrain” the units, however the abuses remain. Mayor Adams claims his Neighborhood Safety Teams will be different, but re-training officers does not reduce police violence.”
Below are statements from Communities United for Police Reform, including comments from some members and partners.
“Public health issues deserve a public health response; however, Mayor Adams has centered his playbook for addressing gun violence, the housing crisis, and a lack of access to mental healthcare in our city on the NYPD,” said Leo Ferguson, (he, they), spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. “Mayor Adams’ reliance on policing, especially failed strategies of the past that have led to New Yorkers being killed by the NYPD, will further criminalize our neighbors—many of whom are represented by the organizations who have signed on to the letter we’re releasing today. We are here to tell Mayor Adams that we will not accept the same policies that have devastated communities for years, like the use of dangerous surveillance technology and increased NYPD patrols on our streets, creating more opportunity for police to harass the public and carry out unconstitutional stops. Mayor Adams and the City Council must immediately stop the expansion of the notoriously violent plainclothes units like the ones that killed Amadou Diallo and make deep investments in communities that will provide comprehensive solutions.”
Read the full letter here.
"It’s time for our elected leaders to be bold, to truly answer the call for safe and healthy communities. Organizers in our city and around the country have proposed practical, common sense approaches to ending the cycle of community violence, police violence, mass incarceration and criminalization through providing adequate, care and health-based responses to our community's needs, especially during times of crisis,” said Monifa Bandele and Sala Cyril, with Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “We know that investments in holistic, multidisciplinary, non-punitive and non-carceral approaches to community safety that center proactive health and care-based strategies will keep all New Yorkers safe ----and not harm some in the name of helping others. We demand investments in education, housing, mental health services, drug treatment, health equity and more. Black people demand that we create real safety for our communities, and we intend to make that demand a reality. We must invest in care, not cops."
“The core of Mayor Eric Adams’ blueprint is clear: increase policing and surveillance, increase the criminalization of poverty, homelessness and mental illness, and lock people up,” said Loyda Colon (they/them), Executive Director of the Justice Committee. “Particularly frightening is Adams’ rebranding of the plainclothes Street Crimes/Anti-Crime Unit that killed Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Kimani Gray, Saheed Vassell, Antonio Williams and too many others. In spite of the Mayor's attempts to pass his "Neighborhood Safety Teams" off as different from its past iterations and other specialty plainclothes units, this is nothing but a return to failed and abusive policing tactics. The biggest problem with these units has never been what they wear, but is, rather, their mandate to aggressively target Black and Latinx communities and proactively police "suspicion" such as Ramarley Graham “walking with a purpose” and Antonio Williams waiting for a cab at night. Modifying officers’ uniforms and re-branding these units with different names will not change the fact that they are, by design, inherently violent and discriminatory. “
“The mayor's blueprint for addressing gun violence is an after-the-fact solution—more punishment for offenders, more cops to investigate cases, and more police in our neighborhoods,” stated Marwa Janini, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York. “What it fails to do is actually make our community safer by stopping crime before it happens. Investment into programs that give paths away from gun violence, strengthen community organizations which deescalate conflict, and creating opportunities in disadvantaged areas can stop crime from happening in the first place. Solving today's problems requires forward thinking solutions - not relying on broken and ineffective tactics of the past.”
"New Yorkers deserve genuine solutions to public safety that do not primarily rely on aggressive policing, increased prosecutions, and incarceration," said Dawit Getachew, Attorney and Policy Counsel at The Bronx Defenders. "A plan that fails to address the root causes of gun violence will only serve to harm the communities it purports to help. The City must implement a community-led vision and strategies for public safety and invest in neighborhoods that have long borne the consequences of systemic racism."
“Reducing gun violence demands community solutions, not the increased policing of communities of color. The evidence is clear: more policing is linked to spikes in racial profiling, unconstitutional stops, and violence against Black and Latinx people,” stated Jennifer Feinberg, Litigation Supervisory for Policy & Government Affairs at the Center for Family Representation, Inc. Instead, the city must invest in community-based violence prevention programs, along with good jobs, youth programs, affordable housing, and healthcare – including mental healthcare and drug use services.”
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory and abusive 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.Topics: NYC Budget Justice