Open Letter from Candidates Condemning Recent NYPD Actions and Calling to Defund the Police.
The actions by the NYPD on Saturday night in the West Village are a continuation of the disturbing lawless, riotous behavior by the police. We have seen time and time again how the police escalate peaceful protests into violent mass arrests that serve no purpose other than to abuse their authority and intimidate protestors.
Whether it is assaulting peaceful protesters, pointing guns at unarmed civilians, pepper-spraying elected officials, or attempting to run protestors over with police cruisers, there has been an appalling lack of accountability from all levels of government. Enough is enough. We are calling for the immediate resignation of NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
A resignation is not enough, however, to fix a completely broken system that treats black and brown life as disposable. We, as candidates for elected office, pledge to defund the police, close Rikers, and build no new jails.
For decades, the city has followed a racist policy of mass incarceration in a misguided attempt to solve social issues that are better served by social services, access to healthcare, housing, education, and investment in our communities.
The current leadership of our city has failed to make the hard choices required in this moment to enact substantive policy changes that are desperately needed. Just a month and a half after the budget vote, NYCLU released over 323,000 accusations of misconduct against current and former NYPD officers.
The records revealed a stunning lack of accountability. Only three percent of the accusations resulted in a penalty, with most being a small reduction in vacation days. It is a perverse disciplinary measure that punishes officers abusing their communities by making them work in those communities more.
Our current systems of accountability are hopelessly broken. We need to fundamentally shift from policies of carceral solutions to solutions that put the true public safety of communities first. As elected officials, our biggest purview will be how the city prioritizes its policies and funds its budget.
It has never been more true that the city’s budget is a moral document, and we need to shift our funding priorities to meet our moral obligations to build up our communities rather than incarcerating them. We can no longer continue spending billions on locking people up while continuing to cut funding for everything else.
We seek to take the funds saved from policing and building no new jails and invest it back into our communities in the form of increased funding for education, social services, legal services, healthcare, housing, mental health response teams, and other community-centered alternatives to policing. These are proven policies that will elevate our community.
We also seek to bring accountability to a police force that currently has none. Among these policy proposals are to enable the CCRB to have binding authority to investigate, discipline, fire, arrest, and prosecute police officers guilty of misconduct. We need civilian control with meaningful abilities to impose discipline on the police.
Together we will usher in a new vision for our city so that our communities are no longer subjected to police riots and violence on our streets, but instead reflect a city and leadership that values every human life and recognizes their inherent worth.