Re The Chokehold Ban: Are We Really Going to Debate Amending This Already Weak Law?
The ban on the use of chokeholds — already illegal in New York — was reinforced by the passage of the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act by the New York City Council, making use of the maneuver a Class A misdemeanor. Although the illegality of chokeholds did little to stop the NYPD from acting above the law anyway, the city’s police unions have added insult to injury by attempting to have the law amended just weeks after its passage.
The objection to this by the police unions was all too predictable. For the City Council to capitulate now and amend this already weak law would only further undermine the ability of the body to hold the NYPD accountable. In the words of Councilman Rory Lancman, one of bill’s primary sponsors:
“It will eviscerate not just the law itself, but the rule of law and the legitimacy of the City Council as an institution capable of overseeing the NYPD.”
The fact that the unions have gone so far as to file suit against the city — just because they fear that the NYPD will finally, maybe be held accountable for their own violence — only further exposes just how corrupt and powerful the police unions have become.
Ultimately, this law was a half-measure, and if nothing else, the swiftness with which the police unions were able to undermine it exposes how toothless it was in the first place. We cannot expect the NYPD to police itself, and the only way to hold officers accountable is by granting full investigative abilities and real power to an Elected Civilian Review Board.
If the police who are meant to serve the city refuse to obey the law, and refuse to be held accountable, then the only logical solution is to defund — and eventually abolish — the NYPD.
Kristin Richardson Jordan (KRJ aka “Kristin for H.A.R.L.E.M.”) is a poet, local activist, speaker, teacher, DSA member, Black queer woman, and third-generation Harlemite on a mission to disrupt District 9 (central Harlem) with radical love. Her political platform includes advocacy for police accountability, abolition, affordable housing, redistribution of resources, senior care, gun control, education, and environmental justice. Her website is at KristinForHarlem.com.