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Statement from CPR on Signing of Special Prosecutor Executive Order in New York

In response to Governor Cuomo signing an executive order to authorize the Office of the Attorney General as a special prosecutor in police killings, Communities United for Police Reform released the following statement from its members.

“The many families of New Yorkers killed by police who have tenaciously and selflessly championed the sound policy of appointing a special prosecutor to handle police killings are our s/heroes today,” said Priscilla Gonzalez, Organizing Director of Communities United for Police Reform. “They have taken this reform from one that almost no one believed was possible to achieve through to the finish line.  Governor Cuomo’s executive order is an important step towards ending the systemic conflict of interest that local district attorneys have in handling cases of police killing civilians. It is positive that this executive order does not have a pre-determined time limit, and that its coverage is beyond just those reported by police as ‘unarmed.’

“We also applaud the work of the Justice Committee and the many other members and partners of Communities United for Police Reform that helped back the families in this campaign,” Gonzalez continued. “There remains much work to be done to end discriminatory policing and the dysfunction of our criminal justice system. By listening to the leadership of families and the recommendation of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Governor Cuomo moves New York State in the right direction with an executive order that changes the investigation and prosecution of police killings. The special prosecutor must be adequately resourced for the commitment towards this reform to be truly meaningful, which requires ongoing leadership by our public officials. We remain committed to ensuring that the special prosecutor has adequate resources and supporting the families in their goal of moving our state towards passage of strong legislation that establishes an independent prosecutor for all cases of police brutality and killings. Attorney General Schneiderman also deserves credit for demonstrating leadership in seeing the need for this reform and calling for it in December. We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and all state leaders to end discriminatory and abusive policing that threatens the safety of our communities.”

Yul-san Liem and Loyda Colon, co-directors of the Justice Committee stated: “The families of New Yorkers killed by police have been leading the push for the establishment of a special prosecutor in New York State for years.  Their tireless advocacy has led this movement in New York to this point. Their leadership and commitment is an inspiration to us all and what is sorely needed in our state and in this country. Governor Cuomo’s enactment of this executive order, which does not have a pre-determined time limit, is an important step in the right direction to ending the systemic conflict of interest that exists for local DAs in cases of police killings of civilians and addressing the crisis of police violence in our state and country. We must ensure that the implementation of the executive order ensures adequate resources for success and that legislation is passed to establish a permanent independent prosecutor for all cases of police killings and deaths in police custody.”

Alyssa Aguilera, Political Director of VOCAL-NY stated: “Families who have experienced the worst of police violence have long led the way for reforms to create a more fair and accountable criminal justice system. Today's creation of a special prosecutor for future police killings would not have been possible without the courageous leadership of those who have suffered the most. Congratulations to the families - they deserve the full credit for this historic victory.”
“Thanks to the leadership of families whose lives have been torn apart by police violence, New York State takes a significant step forward with Governor Cuomo's signing of the executive order to establish a special prosecutor for police killings, said Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “For too long, there has been a need for independent prosecution of police who kill civilians - armed or unarmed - given the lack of justice in these cases, especially for communities of color. We are proud to stand with the families whose courage and leadership have set an important precedent for how these cases will be handled going forward. We will continue to raise our voices for long-term change and work to ensure that the rights of our communities are protected and upheld.”
“The designation of a special prosecutor to handle cases involving police killings of civilians is an important first step to help restore public faith and trust in our justice system,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of New York Civil Liberties Union. “A special prosecutor along with other long-term criminal justice reforms are needed to help promote police accountability and to ensure protection of civil rights and liberties.”
“The Legal Aid Society applauds the leadership of the families of victims of police violence in pursuing a Special Prosecutor with strong authority to intervene on behalf of people killed by the police,” said Justine Luongo, Attorney in Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice of the Legal Aid Society. “The existence of a Special Prosecutor’s Office that can investigate and prosecute killings by police officers is a significant improvement.   We hope the very fact of its existence deters the police brutality we commonly hear reported by our clients. We will continue to work  to improve the criminal justice system and support the families in the pursuit of justice on behalf of every New Yorker.”
The Arab American Association of New York released the following statement: “The Arab American Association of New York welcomes the news of an executive order to appoint a special prosecutor in cases of civilian killings by police. We recognize this as an outcome of the efforts of families of victims of police violence, who have worked tirelessly to call for comprehensive and long-term solutions. We congratulate the families for their leadership, we will work to ensure the implementation of this executive order, and stand by the families in the pursuit of actual legislation.”
“We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo has granted the state attorney general the authority to investigate and prosecute all cases in which civilians are killed by police,” said Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice. “We congratulate the families of killed civilians for their tireless efforts over several decades to create this meaningful change. As a Jewish community committed to the sanctity of all lives, we applaud this move towards accountability and justice.”
“We welcome the news of the appointment of a special prosecutor, a critical first step that would not have been achieved without the extraordinary leadership of the families whose loved ones were killed by the NYPD,” said Center for Constitutional Rights advocacy program manager Nahal Zamani. “This is a step towards ensuring justice for those who have suffered the ultimate loss, to be accompanied by other reforms to dismantle discriminatory and abusive policing and end police violence.”
“Families who have lost loved ones to NYPD violence have been at the forefront of police accountability movements in NYC for decades, and an inspiration to many of us,” said Fahd Ahmed of DRUM-Desis Rising Up & Moving. “This important progress today is to their credit.”

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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