(New York, NY)— In the wake of a $13 million dollar settlement to protestors who were wrongly arrested, pepper sprayed and violently attacked during the mass Black Lives Matter marches of 2020, NY City Council Members and community advocates say accountability reforms are needed to prevent more police abuse.
“I was one of the protestors who was kettled in the Bronx for coming out in peace for George Floyd. NYPD struck me in the chest with their bike, pepper sprayed and brutalized us to the point I was just begging them to stop. This settlement brings attention to the trauma they [NYPD] inflicted on us.” Said Sami Disu, a participant in the class action lawsuit.
“I even went to civilian oversight, reported to Bronx DA, area council members and nobody did anything. They took notes, videos and evidence from us but they all did nothing.” Added Disu.
Advocates like Disu are pushing for The Community POWER act, which stands for Police Oversight With Elected Review, would establish a higher degree of public oversight of the NYPD by transforming the current Civilian Complaint Review Board into an elected body capable of disciplining officers who commit misconduct. Currently the CCRB’s decisions can, and often are, overturned by the Police Commissioner.
“People who have been victimized by the NYPD certainly deserve compensation. But this settlement doesn’t create any consequences or accountability for the officers who swung the batons, sprayed the pepper spray, or drove their vehicles into civilians merely exercising their first amendment rights. Nor does it touch the leadership of the NYPD who coordinated these attacks on protestors from the top.” said Nathanael Vaky, member of the Campaign for the Community POWER Act.
“Until we have real oversight of the NYPD, the public will continue to subsidize their brutality and misconduct with settlements, while the officers remain untouched. That’s why we are calling on the City Council to pass the Community POWER Act without delay.” Vaky said.
Concerned community members are standing with City Council bill sponsors Charles Barron, Kristin Richardson Jordan, Alexa Avilés, Chi Ossé and others.
“It is not enough to just give compensation to those brutalized by the NYPD, we also need to pass the Community POWER Act and establish an Elected Civilian Review Board for police accountability. There needs to be community oversight and consequences for officers who commit violent offenses.” said Council Member Richardson Jordan.
The Community POWER Act would also establish an Independent Prosecutor who could prosecute police officers who commit crimes. This would replace the District Attorney’s office in cases involving the police to eliminate the conflict of interest inherent in those prosecutions.
Advocates are specifically calling on Public Safety Committee Chair Kamillah Hanks and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams to hold a hearing on this bill which was introduced to the City Council nearly one year ago and has yet to be put before the Public Safety Committee.
Steering Committee, NYC Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board
Council Member Charles Barron, Sponsor of the Community POWER Act
Deputy Chief of Staff – Councilmember Charles Barron’s Office
About the Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board:
The Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board is a broad coalition calling for the creation of an elected, empowered review board and Independent Prosecutor to hold police accountable for misconduct.