New York, NY – The members of New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus condemn the NYPD’s violent arrest of a protester in the middle of a peaceful march yesterday. While the NYPD may claim that this was a routine arrest, we are under no such illusions. This arrest was a tactic meant to intimidate protesters and discourage civil disobedience. As we loudly oppose the federal government’s use of unidentified federal law enforcement agents to curb dissent in Portland and other cities, we must be equally vociferous in opposing the use of such tactics by the NYPD.
It is also the Caucus’ understanding that the person arrested identifies as a trans woman. While the actions of the NYPD captured in the videos circulating online may be shocking to some, they are all too familiar to TGNC, LGBQ, and POC New Yorkers. As legislators in Albany grapple with repealing the walking while trans ban, the city council must also take action to ensure that trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers live in safety from harassment, intimidation, and violence from the police.
We call for immediate accountability, not just for the NYPD’s actions yesterday, but for their response to the uprising of the last several months. It seems that the Mayor is incapable of holding the NYPD accountable for the brutality unleashed on those exercising their first amendment rights. We will work with our colleagues to hold an immediate hearing so New Yorkers can have a public dialogue on the police department and pursue both new solutions and existing legislation, including Reso 0923-2019, calling for the State to repeal the #WalkingWhileTrans law. Accountability cannot happen behind closed doors – NYPD leadership must answer to the public for their use of disproportionate force and escalatory tactics against protesters, their cooperation with ICE and other federal agencies, and their retaliation against and surveillance of activists and organizers leading the movement for police accountability and justice.
Finally, the Progressive Caucus also calls for a sustained evaluation of the NYPD’s budget. With each passing day it becomes clearer that the NYPD’s bloated budget and lack of transparency has emboldened the department to protect its own ranks rather than the public. In a time of unprecedented crisis brought on by COVID-19, what New Yorkers need is not more violent policing but an equitable economic recovery. Now more than ever, we need to reevaluate public safety in a way that prioritizes the well-being of marginalized communities and creates a system where all New Yorkers have equal access to justice.In the absence of clear leadership, this reevaluation must be led by the City Council with legislation and oversight.