On March 24, activists and elected officials congregated within City Hall Park where they rallied for more police accountability using the Community Power Act.
New York City Councilmember Inez Barron met with several demonstrators near the Jacob Wrey Mould Fountain in City Hall Park to announce the Community Power Act, a bill that will establish the first-ever NYC Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board (ECRB). This initiative is said to create an unbiased and independent sector that could discipline NYPD officers and provide justice for communities that have been unfairly treated. According to Barron and other attendees, the current Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) does not provide accountability for NYPD’s transgressions.
“We have not had the independence, the impartiality nor the thoroughness which is necessary for police officers to be held accountable for their misconduct and for the lives of that they have taken,” Barron said.
Thursday the bill is being put forward to the New York City Council, which many elected backers believe to be a necessary and radical change in the fight to discipline an officer’s abuse of power. Currently, the CCRB is tasked with overseeing investigations on the New York Police Department; however, Barron and supporters of the ECRB stated that this agency has too many close ties with the police department which causes justice to be swept under the rug, resulting in officers not getting penalized for their actions. With the recent budget cuts on the NYPD and the implementation of the disciplinary matrix, activists are saying that these are minute changes and are not enough.
Attendees read out the names and displayed signs of victims of police violence such as Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Amadou Diallo, and several others who have each been killed by police officers. These continued killings, along with the past year of Black Lives Matter protests, have put police accountability at the forefront of political discussions.
“We are proud to stand here today and say, let New York be the first to create a community elected police review board. Let New York be the first to give that board the power to investigate, discipline and fire police officers that deserve to be fired. Let New York be the first by passing the Community Power Act,” said Pamela Monroe, a member of the NYC Campaign for ECRB.
Monroe discussed the ensuing violence that is perpetuated by a system that benefits the NYPD and not the community. She and others at the rally believe that the Police Commissioner should not have final authority on determining punishment for NYPD officers. While the changes that have been made within the NYPD are a move forward, she believes these are simply shallow cosmetic shifts to draw away the ire of the public.
“The NYPD made our city infamous by acting above the very law they are charged to enforce. They did it during the protests and they have been doing it in our neighborhoods for years. The NYPD made our city infamous, but it’s time for us to make our city famous for taking back the power and putting it in the people’s hands with the Community Power Act,” Monroe said.
If enacted, the ECRB would have 17 community elected board members and would have the power to make disciplinary rulings on police officers and pursue investigations on misconduct. Additionally, an independent prosecutor will be on hand to handle criminal cases. This bill differs from the CCRB since they only have the ability to review cases, while the ECRB would investigate and respond directly to cases of police abuse.
amNewYork Metro reached out the Civilian Complaint Review Board for comment.