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Policing in America

“Police Wall of Shame” is a Policing in America series by Laura Plummer.

 October 15, 2020

Summary

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is the largest police department in the U.S. and the second largest in the world after Tokyo. It has over 36,000 sworn officers, equal to the population of a small city, with approximately one officer for every 233 people.

When the NYPD killed Black man Eric Garner in 2014, it helped transform the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter into a national movement. Since then, the department has not done much to improve its reputation. In fact, its shocking antics continue to dominate headlines. From discriminating against women to planning assaults on protestors, it’s no wonder the NYPD finds itself in our Police Wall of Shame.

Date: June 4, 2020

Incident: Officers assaulted protestors in what was called the “most aggressive police response” to the George Floyd murder protests in the U.S.

Date: August 11, 2020

Incident: A female chief quit and sued the department for rampant gender discrimination. She alleged that women were systematically prevented from reaching top positions.

Date: September 1, 2020

Incident: Officers pushed back against the department’s new disciplinary measures, which are meant to improve transparency and accountability in the department. They complained that such measures would prevent them from doing their jobs.

Date: September 9, 2020

Incident: The president of the sergeants union posted a homophobic tweet about an openly gay city councilman. The councilor called for the union leader’s resignation.

Date: September 10, 2020

Incident: The department continued to promote an officer who was accused of invasive, inappropriate strip searches of Black and Latino men.

Date: September 17, 2020

Incident: Reporting showed that officers were still ticketing street vendors in September, despite Mayor de Blasio’s June declaration that the department would be relieved of this duty.

Date: September 25, 2020

Incident: The department suddenly suspended its funding for a crisis intervention training meant to reduce violent conflict with the mentally ill by teaching officers empathy.

Incident: The state attorney general declared that the department should cease making traffic stops, due to a history of  stops escalating quickly into fatal violence.

Date: September 26, 2020

Incident: Officers aggressively charged at a group of protestors, diners and pedestrians, arresting 12 people. Protestors were responding to having their music equipment seized by the department during a raid of a peaceful art protest earlier in the evening.

Date: September 28, 2020

Incident: An officer was arrested for allegedly punching and pointing a gun at his girlfriend. The officer had a long history of domestic violence and was previously arrested in 2014 for threatening a woman with knives.

Date: September 29, 2020

Incident: Officers refused to wear face masks, despite it being law. Gov. Cuomo pointed out the hypocrisy of a group that is tasked with enforcing mask-wearing and yet refuses to cover their own faces.

Incident: A judge ordered a judicial review into the department’s killing of Eric Garner in 2014. Officers put Garner in a chokehold despite the fact the chokehold had been banned since 1993.

Date: September 30, 2020

Incident: A report revealed that the department planned the assault on protestors on June 4 (see above.) The attack was led by the highest-ranking uniformed officer on the force.

Incident: The department was lambasted by a former officer. The man uploaded a video in which he criticized its modern tactics and militarism, comparing it to the Call of Duty video game.

Date: October 2, 2020

Incident: Several dozen officers dressed in riot gear disrupted an outdoor concert. Neighbors were shocked, stating they had never seen such an overwhelming show of force.

Incident: The department broke the law by failing to enforce illegal placard parking. Officers are required to investigate placard abuse and turn the evidence over to the Department of Investigation.

Analysis

In early summer 2020, New York City saw an increase in protests against police brutality and calls to defund the NYPD. While these outward demonstrations seem to have waned in recent months, local advocacy groups like Brooklyn Movement Center, Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and The Gathering for Justice are still hard at work organizing for tangible change in policing.

One way in which residents can have their voices heard is by voting in the city’s 2021 elections. Up for election are mayor, city councilors, public advocate, borough presidents and district attorneys. New Yorkers are urged to support progressive candidates who back comprehensive police reform. A list of current candidates can be found here.

Resistance Resources


This brief was compiled by Laura Plummer. To add an incident involving the NYPD to this article, please contact me@lauraplummer.me.

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