NY AG releases preliminary report on NYPD misconduct at protests

Maya Rajamani
July 08, 2020 - 4:27 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The NYPD arrested more than 2,000 people during the protests that took place in New York City following George Floyd’s death, the New York attorney general’s office said in a preliminary report on alleged police misconduct released Wednesday. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation into the NYPD’s response to the protests after “several evenings of violent clashes” between officers and protesters, her office said.

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"While we thank the Attorney General for her investigation and look forward to reviewing the report in full and working together to further reform policing in this city, we do not believe creating a commission to oversee the NYPD does that." Freddi Goldstein, the Mayor's Press Secretary said.

"Over the last seven years, stop and frisk became a thing of the past, all officers were trained in implicit bias and de-escalation and outfitted with body cameras, and neighborhood policing improved trust in communities. Change comes from accountability, something a commission lacks. If we want to continue moving forward, more bureaucracy is not the answer," he added.

Here are some of her office’s preliminary findings: 

  • A total of 2,087 people were arrested during protests that took place between May 28 and June 27, 44 percent of whom were white; 39 percent of whom were Black, and 13 percent of whom were Latino.
  • The breakdown of protesters charged with felonies is as follows: 16 percent of Black protesters; 8 percent of Latino protesters; less than 4 percent of white protesters; less than 4 percent of Asian protesters.
  • The “vast majority” of protesters charged with felonies were arrested on May 31, “when there was widespread plundering of businesses,” according to the report. 
  • Between June 2 and June 6, the “vast majority” of arrests happened after the 8 p.m. curfew went into effect, “suggesting the curfew was a significant driver of arrests,” the report says.
  • James’ office received more than 1,300 complaints about police misconduct following the protests, most of which claimed NYPD officers used “excessive force against protesters, including the seemingly indiscriminate use of batons and pepper spray, brandishing firearms at protesters, and pushing vehicles or bikes into protesters.”
  • Many complaints claimed NYPD officers used a “kettling” tactic, surrounding protesters and keeping them from leaving certain areas “without making direct contact with police officers.” 
  • A “significant number of complaints” claimed officers used “troubling arrest-related practices,” including “extremely tight zip ties to restrict hands” and “holding protesters in cramped cells under unsafe conditions” despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of her office’s preliminary recommendations: 

  • The city should set up a commission “that has the authority to hire and fire NYPD leadership, including the Commissioner,” the report says. The commission would also have access to records and approve the department’s budget. 
  • The NYPD should have to “seek public input on any rule it changes or implements that impacts the public.” 
  • The city should “redesign” the NYPD; issues like mental illness, homelessness and school safety should be addressed by “dedicated professionals with specialized training,” not by police officers.
  • The NYPD may not be the “appropriate entity to be in charge of issuing press credentials,” the report says. Officers allegedly arrested and used force against reporters covering the protests.
  • The city should expand the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s authority, and NYPD officers that engage in misconduct should be “decertified.” 
  • NYPD officers “must be held to uniform standards on use of non-lethal and deadly force and face meaningful consequences for violations,” the report says. 

The full preliminary report is available here.