JFREJ Statement on NYPD DOI Investigation

The city's DOI report on the NYPD's handling of the George Floyd uprising confirms what was obvious to anyone who was in the streets protesting, or simply awake and conscious in New York this spring. The NYPD escalated situation after situation rather than avoiding violence, and acted with reckless disregard for the rights and safety of New Yorkers. Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Shea's obligatory display of contrition is wholly disingenuous, because nothing in the report is surprising, and nothing about the NYPD's response to the protests was unexpected at the time.

The NYPD — under multiple mayors and City Councils — has been an unaccountable body with no meaningful democratic control, a toxic culture, a racist mission that is inextricable from its violent tactics, and politicized unions that are today deeply aligned with Trump's white nationalist right wing supporters. The mayor and the commissioner will try to convince us that the solution to the status quo is more of the same: a few more of the same kinds of trainings that have created the current NYPD, and more officers to staff a new “protest response unit” that will keep the NYPD in charge of "managing" New Yorkers' 1st Amendment rights. To quote Communities United for Police Reform spokesperson Anthonine Pierre, "We demand real action by the City and elected officials to support firing of officers and top NYPD officials who facilitated violence against New Yorkers during the protests, and work with communities to substantially decrease the NYPD’s outsized budget and role in our lives.”

For most of us, it doesn't take special training to not pepper spray, beat, and knock unarmed people to ground, or to not drive cars into crowds of our neighbors. We don't need more training or new police units — we need new institutions that actually reflect the values of New Yorkers and meet our needs.

Jewish New Yorkers just finished observing Chanukah, when we celebrate our ancestors who rose up in rebellion against injustice. Before lighting their menorah, our ancestors cleansed their temple and rebuilt the alter. Before we can find light in the darkness of our current system of policing and incarceration, we need to clean house, divest from the current system, and rebuild the institutions that are meant to serve and protect all of us.