About 100 activists, including the mothers of black men who were killed in confrontations with police, rallied Wednesday on the steps of City Hall against a decision by the City Council leader to scrap a vote on two NYPD reform bills in exchange for internal policy adjustments by the department.
The so-called Right to Know Act, which would have required officers to identify themselves using a business card in stops and notify civilians of their right to refuse an unconstitutional search, had the support of the majority of the 51-member council. But it was criticized as unnecessarily restricting officers by both Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.
The demonstrators were angry at both Bratton and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, though the Democrat has separately championed changes to the criminal justice system.
Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, fatally shot by a cop in 2012 in his Bronx home, said Mark-Viverito “is making backdoor deals with the police commissioner, the devil himself.”
An NYPD spokesman declined to comment on the criticism of Bratton, and the agency and commissioner have not yet spoken publicly about the agreement.
Mark-Viverito at an unrelated event in midtown Manhattan said the sponsors of the Right to Know Act were part of the conversation between her office and the NYPD.
“I believe we are getting reforms done,” she said of the deal. “There are changes administratively and in procedures and in operations that the NYPD will be implementing — immediately. This is not any waiting game.”
Conspicuously absent from the rally were those primary sponsors: Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), though he was scheduled to attend; and Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn). A Torres spokeswoman said a personal matter came up. Reynoso is on his honeymoon.
The activists said they don’t trust the NYPD to police itself and the changes the agency has agreed to make don’t go anywhere far as the legislation would have. For instance, officers will be required to offer their business cards in fewer circumstances than the bill proposed.
“What we need, what we want, what we are owed by our City Council is to pass real legislation with real teeth,” said Anthonine Pierre, of Communities United for Police Reform.
With Anthony M. DeStefano