The demonstration was part of unprecedented citywide rallies for racial equality, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams then led the march over the span. The message: demonstrators want specific, tangible, and impactful changes to the NYPD, and police oversight from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Williams later released a statement on the march:
“Today we took the Brooklyn Bridge in a silent march to send the same message to our leaders – Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo — that we sent Michael Bloomberg almost a decade ago: that we will not be ignored, we will not be pacified, we will not rest, until we see fundamental change that doesn’t just say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but shows you believe it and are willing to fight for it. We are.
“Our silence made a statement, but now, our voices will be raised in protest to honor the names of those lost — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner — and fight for the change that will stop more names from being added to the list. We don’t need minor changes to a system of injustice – it’s working how it was designed- we need a new system of true justice.
“No justice, no peace. If we know justice, we’ll know peace.”
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Like the other daytime protests over the last week-plus, Tuesday’s was peaceful. Bauman noticed a significantly smaller uniformed police presence, compared to less than a week ago when demonstrators walked over the bridge. On that day, dozens of officers were barricading and guarding the entrance to the bridge for hours ahead of the march.
CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Tuesday’s demonstration was designed as a two-part event, with the latter taking part in the evening outside City Hall.
“It felt like everyone was in unison, like everyone just came together. It didn’t matter what anyone looks like,” protester Wemi Ahunamba said.
As many as 15 families that have lost loved ones to police brutality attended the City Hall rally, including Eric Garner’s mother. Her son was killed in 2014 when an NYPD officer put him in a chokehold while arresting him. Also on hand was the father of Sean Bell, the young man killed in a hail of police bullets in 2006.
The fight for police reform is all too familiar for Sharonne Salaam, whose son, Yuseff Salaam, was one of the falsely accused Central Park Five.
“We don’t want to be terrorized by the people who are supposed to be there to protect us,” Sharonne Salaam said.
Protester Shauna Mitchell brought her 2-year-old daughter.
“Her father could be a person that could be brutalized by the police and I want her to be a part of the change,” Mitchell said.
Families have said the protests have lead to change.
On Tuesday, the state Senate and Assembly voted to repeal 50-A, a decades-old law that kept officers’ personnel records confidential. It is one of a dozen police reforms now being fast-tracked through the Legislature, including a chokehold ban. Also up for consideration, requiring officers show their badge numbers, and banning officers from interfering with bystanders recording them.
“Passing these bills is a step, a step, in the right direction. We have to go even further,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.
The 15 families have been echoing Williams’ calls for police reform, including the defunding of the police. The public has heard many definitions of what that means. It does not mean getting rid of law enforcement altogether, but instead redefining its role.
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Reform coalitions have proposed cutting at least $1 billion from the police budget, and reallocating that money money to other services, like mental health programs, so that police are not always the first responders.
The NYPD agrees that there is a need for some reform, but says the current considerations would impede officers’ ability to respond to crimes and claims giving civilians more legal means of recourse does not make them safer.
“We want what everybody else has,” Sharonne Salaam said.
It appears the rallies and demonstrations will continue.
“People have to keep coming out. People have to continue to be heard,” one protester said. “Really, that’s the biggest thing, consistency. Like, we have to stay out here.”
“To know these families and stand with these families is so important, because a life that is lost can never come back,” another protester said.