Police Reform Campaign Responds to City Council Hearing on NYPD Policing of Protests
In response to a City Council hearing on the NYPD’s policing of protests, Communities United for Police Reform released the following statement from Director Joo-Hyun Kang.
“The NYPD’s misleading testimony and non-answers at today’s Public Safety Committee hearing were shameful. It’s important that New Yorkers be free to protest injustices, including those advanced by the Trump administration, without fear of police aggression. The NYPD too frequently engages in overly aggressive and abusive policing of protesters that effectively attacks New Yorkers’ constitutional rights to protest, a history that stretches back decades and contradicts their testimony today. It’s inappropriate, unacceptable and undemocratic for the NYPD to equate New Yorkers exercising their right to protest with ‘terrorism’ by treating them with the same hyper-militarized ‘Strategic Response Group.’ The City Council’s oversight is much needed, convening this hearing so quickly was an important first step, and it’s critical that follow-up occurs to ensure there is accountability and transparency to end abusive, militarized policing of protests. The SRG should not be responding to protests, the City Council should impose restrictions on NYPD surveillance of constitutionally-protected activities, and force disposal of personal/identifying information collected from it. It’s also important that the police response to protests be demilitarized and that all military equipment being used for these purposes be publicly reported (including budget, allocation of resources, etc.) – military equipment like long range acoustic devices should be prohibited for use against protesters.”
1. Transparency regarding protocol, equipment, resources and discipline of abusive officers.
- The NYPD should comply with requests for basic transparency by fully releasing all of their operational and organizational protocols regarding how they prepare for, respond to, and monitor protests and demonstrations - both those officially permitted and not.
- The NYPD should publicly release the names, rank and command of officers who have been found to engage in improper or abusive policing of protests and protesters; and release information related to disciplinary action taken (or not).
- Officers who have been found to engage in improper or abusive policing of protests/protesters should face immediate unpaid suspension and administrative disciplinary trials to determine whether an officer should be terminated should be held within a month. Officers should not simply be transferred from the SRG to a different command – as has happened with one of the officers who was abusive after Ravi Ragbir was detained. Moving such an officer to a neighborhood patrol is a danger to our communities and sends the message that the NYPD will not hold officers accountable for police brutality.
- The NYPD should provide full transparency regarding budget and equipment allocation, including for how equipment may be utilized in non-protest situations.
- Prohibit the use of long range acoustic devices (LRADs) in response to protests
- The City Council should demand regular and public reporting by the NYPD on the use of military-grade weapons and equipment, particularly in response to protests
2. The City Council should denounce the equation of protesters with domestic terrorism, and help ensure that the NYPD Strategic Response Group is prohibited from responding to protests, “disorder control” and other activities that are not specifically counter-terrorism.
- The City Council should closely monitor the SRG to ensure that its scope is lawful and should be notified of any abuse allegations against SRG members; and the City Council should monitor what units will be responsible for police functions at demonstrations if this is moved out of the SRG.
3. The City Council should impose restrictions on the NYPD’s use of surveillance of constitutionally protected activities and demand immediate disposal of all identifying/personal information obtained through surveillance.
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.