NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Days of protests have been a challenge for the NYPD, and there are questions about how the department has handled them and how they will handle future protests.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer has the story.
With protests erupting all over the city — some peaceful, some not — the actions of some cops are now under the microscope, especially those captured on video showing the response of cops driving two police cars blocked by protesters by stepping on the gas. Mayor de Blasio used it as an example of how the NYPD has to do a better job of disciplining officers who he called “bad apples,” CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“There are some that use violence when they shouldn’t. There are some that are disrespectful to the people they serve. There are some that harbor racism in their hearts. These people should not be on the police force and it’s our job to get them out,” the mayor said.
The strong words came after a number of supporters wondered why a man who got into office as a police reformer hadn’t been more forceful in denouncing questionable actions and for not taking steps to ensure that communities of color will be treated respectfully by cops and receive equal treatment.
“I think some of the actions of the NYPD have exacerbated the anger. There are videos of some NYPD actions that are very disturbing,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Both the governor and the mayor talked of the need for swifter discipline. It took the NYPD five years to fire police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner chokehold case.
CBS2 urban affairs expert Mark Peters said he thinks the mayor’s harsh words about the NYPD were an attempt to reassure protesters he understood their concerns about police brutality in the wake of the Minnesota incident.
“I think it’s an attempt to fix the really inappropriate comments that he made two nights ago when he basically said that he saw that the NYPD was doing nothing wrong,” Peter said.
Both the mayor and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea offered details of how they plan to police the protest going forward, other than to say they will aggressively go after people who loot businesses.
“We need the rest of the criminal justice system now to step in as well, and we need a deterrent,” Shea said. “And we need, Marcia, consequences.”
Since many people were not social distancing during the protests, the governor was asked what the difference is between a protest and a business that wants to reopen smartly.
“You don’t conduct business in a way where you have people within six feet, you have to wear the mask. You have to do the hand sanitizer. That’s where we’re going to be,” Cuomo said. “What we’re starting in Phase 1, because, remember, you have congregant situations that you have to account for. It’s not that people come from a helicopter and go into a business, right? People get on a bus. People get on a subway. People are on a sidewalk. That’s where all these things are difficult.”
New York City is still on track to start opening next Monday, June 8.
National Ban Chokeholds?
Cuomo on Monday announced a proposed national ban on chokeholds by law enforcement, CBS2’s Cory James reported.
“I said from Day 1, I share the outrage and I stand with the protesters. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It’s frightening,” Cuomo said.
Part of his reform proposal includes independent investigations for cases of police abuse, and he plans to reform a law known as “50A,” which makes disciplinary records of officers secret.
“I think it’s really a matter of real accountability with officers and a big step in that is repealing 50A,” said Milan Taylor of the Rockaway Youth Task Force.
While Cuomo works on his reform agenda, some activists feel another part of reform involves changing perception, specifically when it comes to black men and crime.
“Why is it that we would be so quick to blame black folks in these cases for things they didn’t do? Well, it’s because they all knew that they would or at least they felt that they would be believed.” author and educator Tim Wise said.
“You need to educate yourself as to the truth of the situation instead of believing the lie that has been promulgated in this country for the last 400 years,” added educator Jane Elliott.
As reform movements begin to happen, some are hoping these movements happening now will stay. It’s a fight for change that demonstrators believe will make the country better for everyone in the end.