New legislation could make NYPD chokeholds illegal after George Floyd death

Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and other lawmakers are pushing to pass two changes to policing that could materialize in a veto-proof majority if all goes to plan.

Tuesday morning, Johnson announced that council planned to make any hold used by NYPD that cuts off airflow illegal as well as a standardized matrix for punitive measures for police misconduct; Civil Rights leaders Rev. Al Sharpton and Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, threw support behind the legislative plan.

When NYPD was barred from using chokeholds such as in the example of the death of Eric Garner in 2014, Johnson said it was now clear since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis that airflow can be cut off in a number of ways.

“Chokeholds are not the dangerous tactic that we must end, so again our bill will cover any action that restricts breathing… The disciplinary matrix details appropriate penalty ranges for various forms of police misconduct and give the public more information on how the police are handling internal misconduct,” Johnson said. “I want to say I’m sorry that it has taken this long to pass these bills. These are bills that should have passed long ago, it should not have taken the murder of a black man in Minneapolis.”

The resolutions and legislative action will be passed at some point in the month of June, Johnson said, something he believes should have been imposed after the death of Eric Garner.

“It is time for us to quit playing with this; there’s a reason people all over the country are energized and coming forward, it’s because they know this is not a one-time thing,” Sharpton said. “The first time we hear ‘I can’t breathe’ was not in Minneapolis, it was in Staten Island and it was six years ago and we did nothing about it.”

Carr’s time at the podium was not only spent talking about bold legislative action, but slamming rioters who she believes are outsiders in the movement against police brutality.

“We see that the country is in an uproar right now and a lot of it is just opportunists out there. We ask the opportunists to go away, this is our movement and we don’t want to be an extra in our movement,” Carr said. “I am mad about what happened to George Floyd and I’m not upset with the ones that are protesting peacefully. But I am upset with those opportunists… We always have opportunists but it’s our job to make sure that we ween out agitators and the one that comes to capitalize on your hurt.”

Tuesday, the one week anniversary or George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, is expected to be contentious with a 1 p.m. demonstration in front of One Police Plaza followed by an 8 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo after another destructive night on Sunday.