The report analyzed police response to summer protests following the brutal arrest of George Floyd, a Black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes on May 25. Patrick Lynch, president of the city police union, blamed his officers’ brutality on a lack of city support. “The DOI report confirms what police officers knew on the first night of riots: our city leaders sent us out with no plan, no strategy and no support to deal with unrest that was fundamentally different from any of the thousands of demonstrations that police officers successfully protect every single year,” he said in a statement Friday. “Nearly 400 police officers were injured—struck with bricks, bottles, fire extinguishers and folding chairs—because of the mixed messages emanating from City Hall and Albany. No amount of new training or strategizing will help while politicians continue to undermine police officers and embolden those who create chaos on our streets.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said after reading the report, it’s clear “we’ve got to do something different.” “I want to be really clear. Those days in May and June were not like anything I think that’s happened before in this city’s history, certainly for me were like nothing I ever experienced before, incredibly challenging,” he said, “and we saw problems that we had not seen before.”
Unfortunately for Black and brown people, police brutality is something we have seen before in New York City, quite routinely actually. Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black father, was accused of selling loose cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island when former NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo choked and killed him on July 17, 2014. Viral video shot in March shows New York police officers violently taking down a Black Brooklyn pedestrian after he asked repeatedly what crime he had committed, receiving no response, and the city’s infamous stop-and-frisk policy, which allowed cops to temporarily detain and question suspects based solely on “reasonable suspicion” of a crime, led to almost 700,000 stops in 2011 alone. “Most of the people stopped were black and Latino, and nearly all were innocent,” the ACLU of New York reported.
But with regards to more recent incidents of police brutality, the watchdog probe included 20 policy and practice recommendations for NYPD, including forming a protest response unit and patrol guide for demonstrations. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement CNN obtained that he intends to incorporate the recommendations “into our future policy and training.”
That doesn’t seem to make experts particularly hopeful, nor should they be. Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor, called changing policy an “important step one” but ultimately said it was “low-hanging fruit.” “Culture eats policy for breakfast, so there are a lot of things that have to happen for a police agency to change,” he told NBC News.
Nancy La Vigne, the executive director of the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice’s Task Force on Policing, told NBC News the report seemed “well researched and highly prescriptive.” “What remains to be known is the degree to which these prescriptions are adopted into policy and practice, that’s where often things can fall apart,” she said. “You can release all the reports you want, but if you don’t change the underlying structure or create incentives or really have accountability that is meaningful to a law enforcement agency, it’s hard to promote the change you want .”
RELATED: Witnesses recall NYPD officers unmasked ‘screaming in people’s faces’ as they arrested protesters
RELATED: NYC woman suffered ‘serious seizure’ and concussion after NYPD officer shoved her in viral video
RELATED: ‘I can’t breathe’: Public outrage about 2 Black men killed over cigarettes leads to changes in law
RELATED: ‘What crime did I commit?’ Woman films NYC police brutally assaulting a man walking home from work
The Georgia runoff is Jan. 5. Click here to request an absentee ballot. Early in-person voting starts Dec. 14.
Let’s give GOP Leader Mitch McConnell the boot! Give $4 right now so McConnell can suffer the next six years in the minority.