58.5 F
New York
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Home Crime Governor Cuomo Signs 'Say Their Name' repealing 50-a + Banning Chokeholds + More…

Governor Cuomo Signs ‘Say Their Name’ repealing 50-a + Banning Chokeholds + More…

Governor Cuomo Signs ‘Say Their Name’ repealing 50-a + Banning Chokeholds + More…

  Reforms Include Repealing 50-a; Banning Chokeholds; Prohibiting Race-Based 911 Calls; and Appointing Attorney General as Independent Prosecutor for Police Involved Deaths

Following Killing of George Floyd, Governor Proposed the ‘Say Their Name’ Reform Agenda to Reduce Inequality and Reimagine the State’s Criminal Justice System

June 12, 2020–New York City–Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an Executive Order — the ‘New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative’ — requiring local police agencies, including the NYPD, to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input. Each police agency’s reform plan must address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including, but not limited to use of force. Joining the Governor for the bill signing are: Rev. Al Sharpton, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Leader Carl Heastie, Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; and Hazel N. Dukes is President of the NAACP New York State Conference. (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed the ‘Say Their Name’ Reform Agenda package following the killing of George Floyd and an ongoing pattern of police brutality against minority communities across the nation. These landmark policing reforms will help reduce inequality in policing and reimagine the state’s criminal justice system. The reforms include:

  • Allowing for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by repealing 50-a of the civil rights law;
  • Banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers;
  • Prohibiting false race-based 911 reports; and
  • Designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the civilian deaths.

 

Governor Cuomo’s statements today during his press briefing:

On the civil unrest, I said from day one that I stand with the protesters. I believe this is the moment to put forth a real federal reform justice agenda. Yes, we have to do criminal justice, yes, we have to do police. The injustices are more fundamental than that in truth. Let’s talk about education equality because we have two education systems, one for the rich and one for the poor, and that is true. And you want to talk about justice, opportunity for all, why does one child who happens to be born to a poor family have a second rate education to children who are born in wealthier communities? Why do you still have child poverty in this nation? How do you justify that? The affordable housing need is all across the country because the federal government went out of the affordable housing business. I was the former Housing Secretary for the federal government. It was the one responsibility the federal government used to undertake. It was never states and cities. Public housing was federal, Section 8 certificates were federal, Section 8 project base was federal. Federal Housing Administration, FHA, that was federal. They just ended that business, and then you wonder why we have an affordable housing crisis.

And criminal justice reform should be done on a national level. And the House has been very aggressive on reform, the Congress, and I applaud them for it. But New York State is the progressive capital. We never sit back and say just what the nation should do, we show the nation what it should do. We lead by example and we lead by getting it done. We are a state of action and that’s us at our best. A great member of the New York State assembly who then went on to the Congress, a great pioneer, Shirley Chisolm: “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, you make progress by implementing ideas.” Implementing ideas, getting things done, action, results, not just talking, not just advocating, but actually articulating your ideas and then getting action done so you change reality for people. We’ve gotten to a place where people think talking is enough. Talking is not enough. Being angry is not enough. Being emotional is not enough. How do you transition that to action and change and results? And that’s what we’re doing here today. The New York State legislature has quickly passed the most aggressive reforms in the nation. I’m going to sign those bills in a moment. 50-a reform so there’s transparency. We’re banning chokeholds. Attorney general as special prosecutor. Ending false race-based 911 reports.

I want to applaud the leaders who have done great work. These are tough times to be in government. There’s a lot of issues, a lot of crises, a lot of demands, and they got it done, and they got it done quickly. I want to thank the bill’s sponsors who have done a great job and actually came to resolution, and I want to applaud them. I also want to applaud the advocates who have been fighting for this for years. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve had, how many rallies they put on, how many events Reverend Sharpton put on, keeping the message out there, insisting, advocating, protesting, demonstrating which results in today and the change we’re making today. So I want to applaud all the mothers, especially Gwen Carr, Valerie Bell, and, again, Reverend Sharpton for his great work on this.

Moving forward, there is still more to do, and we’re going to do it in the state of New York. The truth is this, police reform is long overdue, and Mr. Floyd’s murder is just the most recent murder. This is not just about Mr. Floyd’s murder. It’s about being here before, many, many times before. It is about a long list that has been all across this country that always makes the same point, injustice against minorities in America by the criminal justice system. And today is about enough is enough. It’s about Fannie Lou Hamer, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” How many times do you have to see the same case before you do something? How many times? This was Eric Garner, this was Abner Louima, this was Amadou Diallo, the same case over and over and over and still no change. And Mr. Floyd’s murder, God bless this country for standing up and saying enough is enough. I respect them.

But it goes back certainly to Rodney King in modern times, and the truth is it goes back to Dr. Martin Luther King, 1968. It is systemic discrimination and injustice in this nation. That’s what it is. That’s what today is about. And the answer, there is no quick fix to this. There is no, “Well, stop tear gas. Well, change the uniforms.” That’s not what this is about, my friends. And it would be a mistake if we went down that path. This is systemic reform of police departments. This is sitting down and taking a look at exactly what they do and have been doing and looking at it through a new lens of reform and reinvention, because this has been 40, 50 years in the making. Providing police with military equipment, increasing the number of police, it goes back to the ’90s in the crime bills. Looking at the population explosion in our prisons, this was a long time in coming, and this is not about a press release that’s going to solve it. The way we really solve this is we say to every police agency in this state, I believe it should happen in the nation, sit down at the table with the local community, address these issues, get to the root of these issues, get a plan, pass that plan by your local government, and if you don’t, you’re not going to get any additional state funds, period. We’re not going to fund police agencies in this state that do not look at what has been happening, come to terms with it and reform themselves. We’re not going to be as a state government subsidizing improper police tactics, we’re not doing it. And this is how we’re going to do it.

I’m going to sign an executive order today. We’ll require our local governments and police departments all across the state, about 500, to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community. They must formulate a plan. They have to address the use of force by police officers, crowd management, community policing, bias awareness, de-escalation, restorative justice, community- based outreach. They have to have a transparent citizen complaint disposition procedure so if you make a complaint, it’s not just yelling out the window, you find out what happened to that complaint. They should talk about appropriate equipment, what’s not appropriate equipment, and any other issue that that community believes is relevant. That discussion has to happen with the community participants in the room. That plan then has to be enacted into local law. Every city, every county, it has to be done by April 1. If it’s not done by April 1, and if it’s not passed, they’re not going to be eligible for state funding, period.

And, look, it’s simple. This is something that has to be done anyway because what we know is certainly true is there is no trust between the community and the police, that’s what the protests have said. There’s no trust. And if there is no trust, the relationship doesn’t work. If there’s no trust, the police can’t effectively police. If there’s no trust, the community is not going to allow the police to police. And there is no trust, or there is a breach of the trust, and that has to be restored and repaired. And the only way to do it is to get in a room, get to the table, let everyone say their piece, and let’s figure it out community by community all across this state. It will be statewide. No other state has done it, but New York State will lead the way because New York is New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving.

With that, let me turn it over to our great Senate leader. I thank Andrea Stewart-Cousins very much for her leadership. I know we’ve worked long and hard over this past week. We’ve been working long and hard for a long time, but especially this past week. And it turned out great. Thank you very much.” 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “The horrific murder of George Floyd, the most recent in a long list of innocent people like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and so many more, has led to a rightful outpouring of grief and anger. Black New Yorkers, like all residents of this state, deserve to know that their rights, and lives, are valued and protected by our justice system. The legislation that will be signed today will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that brutality, racism, and unjustified killings will not be tolerated.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham and so many others shake us to the core. This week, my colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority answered the call of New Yorkers by passing historic reforms to our law enforcement system. These reforms have been championed by our members for years, and I want to thank my colleagues for their tireless commitment to seeing them through to the finish line. I would also like to thank the families of the victims and the passionate advocates who never tired in this fight for justice. They have courageously channeled their grief into a positive force for change and inspired us to deliver meaningful reforms here in New York.”

 

Repealing 50-a (S.8496/A.10611)

Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law creates a special right of privacy for the personnel records of police officers, correction officers, and firefighters and paramedics employed by the State or political subdivisions. The current law prevents access to both records of the disciplinary proceedings themselves and the recommendations or outcomes of those proceedings, leading to records of complaints or findings of law enforcement misconduct that did not result in criminal charges against an officer almost entirely inaccessible to the public.

Repealing 50-a will allow for the disclosure of law enforcement disciplinary records, increasing transparency and helping the public regain trust that law enforcement officers and agencies may be held accountable for misconduct.

Senator Jamaal BaileyChair of the Senate Codes Committee, said, “As Chair of the Codes Committee, I am proud to have introduced and helped pass a number of bills that will create greater transparency and accountability within police departments and increase public trust. 50-A is the statute that shields police disciplinary records from public scrutiny and repealing it is a critically important step to building bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities that they serve. With the passage of this legislation, we balance the critical need to have transparency, while recognizing that law enforcement officers should be entitled to privacy protections concerning their personal information. Additionally, we codified into law Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order making the Attorney General a Special Prosecutor in situations that result in the death of unarmed people at the hands of law enforcement officers, and built upon it by creating a permanent office tasked with investigating these incidents. The lack of meaningful action taken after these incidents has caused the public’s trust of the State’s criminal justice system to waver. This legislation was an important step in restoring that trust by ensuring proper investigation and by making sure that criminal prosecutions are undertaken when necessary, consistent with the crime committed, aiming to give families of those killed by the police confidence in a fair and impartial process in their pursuit for justice. I want to recognize and thank all of the families whose unwavering tenacity and relentless pursuit of transparency, accountability, and justice long overdue helped make these bills possible. I also want to thank Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and my colleagues for passing these bills through the Senate and Assembly, and Governor Cuomo for signing them into law.”

Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell said, “Today we open a new chapter for New York State – one that is more transparent, more accountable, and more just. As Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law is repealed and new police reforms are implemented, we will see meaningful change for our communities. It will come in the baton that isn’t swung, the gun that isn’t fired, and the life that continues uninterrupted. It will come in the form of answers for those who have lost family members to police violence, allowing them to feel some measure of peace. I am deeply honored to have sponsored this bill for the past five years, and to have played a role in addressing the deep systemic issues plaguing our Nation. I thank the advocates, Speaker Heastie, Senate Sponsor Jamaal Bailey, and most of all, New Yorkers across the State who spoke out in recent weeks to demand urgent action. The repeal of 50-a and the police reform package passed by New York State is a monumental step forward. And the march toward justice will continue.”

 

Banning Chokeholds (S.6670-B/ A.6144)

In 1993, the New York City Police Department completely banned its officers from using chokeholds, but the ban has not prevented police officers from using this method to restrain individuals whom they are trying to arrest and the continued use of chokeholds has resulted in too many deaths. This new law creates criminal penalties when a police officer or peace officer uses a chokehold or similar restraint and causes serious physical injury or death.

Senator Brian Benjamin said, “Criminalizing the use of the chokehold by police or peace officers punishable up to 15 years in prison is an important step that will bringing sorely needed police accountability reform to New York State. It is time that we make it abundantly clear that no one is above the law. This is the first law that I am aware of that establishes an enhanced offense specifically on police officers and that is primarily because those who we hire to protect and serve must be held to a higher standard. I would like to thank the Senate and Assembly for passing the ‘Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act,’ and Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation that will help to save the lives of unarmed black men and women who encounter the police and hopefully begin the process of establishing trust and reducing tensions with law enforcement and communities of color.”

Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley said, “George Floyd and Eric Garner yelled out the same words as they were brutally killed by police officers. We need real change to protect black Americans, and part of that is ensuring there are consequences for misconduct on the part of police officers. This legislation is one of many steps in that direction. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law and hope to continue working with his administration to make our state a fairer and more equal place to call home.”

 

Prohibiting Race-Based 911 Calls (S.8492/A.1531)

Recent years have shown a number of frivolous and false calls to 911 based on the callers’ personal discomfort with other people and not for any particular threat. This new law makes it a civil rights violation to call 911 to report a non-emergency incident involving a member of a protected class without reason to suspect a crime or an imminent threat.

Senator Kevin Parker said, “Social media is rampant with videos of people weaponizing the 911 emergency system against African-Americans hoping to see them falsely arrested or worse. This legislation is by no means a solution to the systemic injustices and prejudices that fuel these types of calls to the police. However, this law gives victims of this despicable behavior the beginnings of some recourse. I am glad that it was passed, together with other important police reform bills, and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing it into law.”

Assembly Member Diana Richardson said, “Today, I am proud that Governor Cuomo has immediately signed into law my bill that makes it a crime to call 911 based on a person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. No longer will people be able to use the 911 system to endanger others without consequence. This legislation is deeply meaningful to me, and I am honored to have played a role in effecting this long-needed change.”

 

Appointing Attorney General as Independent Prosecutor for Police Involved Deaths (S.2574-C/A.1601)

This new law establishes an Office of Special Investigation within the Office of the Attorney General to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases where the death of a person follows an encounter with a law enforcement officer. The law also requires the new Office of Special Investigation to produce a report explaining the reasons for its decision regardless of whether it chooses to pursue charges. This will help improve public confidence in the criminal justice system by removing a potential conflict of interest in these types of investigations. This law builds on the Governor’s Executive Order No. 147 from 2015 which established the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor in instances of police-involved deaths.

Assembly Member Nick Perry said, “Over twenty years since police unloaded 41 shots killing Amadou Diallo, nearly six years after the merciless choking of Eric Garner, it took the videos of the heartrending death of George Floyd to finally help us break through the blue wall of silence and resistance to the public cry for criminal justice reform and changes in the prosecution of cases involving death at the hands of the police, who are supposed to protect us. We know that this new law will not end our quest for an assurance for fairness in the process for prosecuting crimes by bad police officers, but it is a big step in the right direction. Millions of New Yorkers and I are delighted that the Governor has signed this bill into law.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “The horrific murder of George Floyd, the most recent in a long list of innocent people like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and so many more, has led to a rightful outpouring of grief and anger. Black New Yorkers, like all residents of this state, deserve to know that their rights, and lives, are valued and protected by our justice system. The legislation that will be signed today will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that brutality, racism, and unjustified killings will not be tolerated.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham and so many others shake us to the core. This week, my colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority answered the call of New Yorkers by passing historic reforms to our law enforcement system. These reforms have been championed by our members for years, and I want to thank my colleagues for their tireless commitment to seeing them through to the finish line. I would also like to thank the families of the victims and the passionate advocates who never tired in this fight for justice. They have courageously channeled their grief into a positive force for change and inspired us to deliver meaningful reforms here in New York.”

As an Amazon Associate New Yorkled benefits monetarily from qualifying purchases.

Upcoming Events

South Street Seaport Museum Extends FREE Entry to Wavertree through October 10, 2020

South Street Seaport Museum Extends FREE Entry to 1885 Tall Ship Wavertree FREE Outdoor Exhibition on Pier 16 and FREE Bowne and Co. Demonstrations...

Bryant Park: American Symphony Orchestra Pop-up Concerts this September

Bryant Park: American Symphony Orchestra Pop-up Concerts On the Upper Terrace Monday, September 14 Wednesday, September 16 Monday, September 21 Wednesday, September 23 5:30 - 6:30 pm As per the official...

Basic Income Bike Parade

Basic Income Bike Parade "Join Income Movement for the NYC Bike Parade for Basic Income. Let's show them what we can do, together." Saturday, September 19,...

Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere

FOR THE LOVE OF DANCE, A NATIONAL DANCE DAY CELEBRATION! In association with four/four presents Saturday, September 19, 2020 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm SummerStage Instagram https://instagram.com/summerstage Tune in on...

58th Annual New York Film Festival – Virtual and Drive In Screenings

58th Annual New York Film Festival - Virtual and Drive In Screenings This year, the New York Film Festival is expanding to a combination of...

Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance 20th Anniversary Season Celebrating 20 Years in 20 Weeks Continues with WE WALK: Streets for Connection As Performers Activate the...

Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance 20th Anniversary Season Celebrating 20 Years in 20 Weeks Continues with WE WALK: Streets for Connection As Performers Activate the...

Historic Neighborhood Walking Tour – Mount Vernon Hotel Museum

Historic Neighborhood Walking Tour Explore the neighborhood around the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, and hear about the people and places that were there in the...

About