On Friday, May 22, 2020, at a City Council public safety committee hearing, members and leaders of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) called for complete removal of NYPD officers from enforcement of social distancing enforcement. They recommended that public health professionals and community organizations are tasked with educating New Yorkers about the importance of social distancing and helping to create new norms that will protect all communities through the pandemic. They also called for deep NYPD budget cuts to be redirected to agencies to meet basic needs and help ensure an equitable COVID-19 recovery for Black, Latinx, and other communities of color in NYC. Written and oral comments were submitted by Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and CPR Members from New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU); Drug Policy Alliance; Justice Committee, Legal Aid Society; Center for Constitutional Rights; and Take Root Justice.
Nearly 700 NYPD emails show a large-scale effort to monitor Black Lives Matter protesters by undercover cops trained to take down organized crime, according to documents obtained by attorney M.J. Williams.
The emails also reveal that the department has held on their findings, including photographs of individual activists, nearly four years later, raising First Amendment concerns.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board, New York’s police watchdog organization, released a report on NYPD interference with civilian photography, concluding that “officer interference with civilian recordings of police conduct is an issue in New York City.” A review of cases handled by the agency over a three-year period found 257 interference-related complaints against officers, ranging from verbal interference with filming to physical force and tampering with or deleting recordings.
Communities United for Police Reform responds to Commissioner Bill Bratton’s claim that civilians documenting the police are an “epidemic” that escalates police violence against civilians.
Either Bill Bratton is desperate for national attention or is seeking to deflect from corruption investigations and his impotence in addressing systemic failed police accountability, but it could be all of the above.