Ending Structural Police Violence And Abuse and The Secret Files: Bill de Blasio, the NYPD, and the Broken Promises of Police Reform

Ending Structural Police Violence And Abuse

On January 7, after an unlawful traffic stop, several police officers in the SCORPION unit of the Memphis Police Department beat, kicked, punched and tased Tyre Nichols, who posed no threat to the public or the officers. He died in the hospital 3 days later. SCORPION, which was disbanded following Nicholss death, stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods. In reality, SCORPIONs targets ” as with similar such units around the country — were primarily Black men. Far from restoring peace, these officers escalated the violence and killed Nichols. The officers later lied about stopping him for reckless driving and the police chief admitted there was no legal basis for stopping Nichols.

One month later, in his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden introduced Nicholss parents who were in the audience and he called for police reforms. We all know that racist police violence is nothing new. It has shown itself over and over throughout our history, and has led to calls for reform of the police, and abolition. But structural and systemic racism and police violence persist nevertheless.

In spite of the worldwide outrage at the public execution of George Floyd in 2020, and several superficial reforms, police killings continue to increase, not decrease.

Guest – Jonathan Moore, civil rights attorney in New York City who, since the late 1970s, has specialized in police and governmental misconduct, employment discrimination, First Amendment advocacy, and international human rights. Jonathan represents the family of Eric Garner, who was killed in broad daylight in 2014 by the New York City police for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. He was also the lead attorney in the New York stop and frisk case in 2013 that led to the historic ruling that banned the practice as unconstitutional. And he represented the Exonerated Five (formerly known as the Central Park Five) in their successful wrongful conviction case against the City of New York.


The Secret Files: Bill de Blasio, the NYPD, and the Broken Promises of Police Reform

The issue of police reform looms large across the nation, with daily reports and images of lethal police violence against Black and Brown persons striking a collective raw nerve. A new book by journalist Michael Hayes reads like both an investigative report and a gripping saga of the nations largest police department. Its protagonists are the New York City Police Department (NYPD), its powerful union, Black and Latino New Yorkers, and the Mayor. The book is The Secret Files: Bill de Blasio, the NYPD, and the Broken Promises of Police Reform.

Bill de Blasio, mayor from 2014 to 2021, focused his campaign on making the NYPD more accountable to the public. Previously, while serving on the City Council, he introduced legislation to expand the purview and clout of the watchdog agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board. While in office, de Blasio tried to end the NYPDs long-standing stop and frisk policy, among other pernicious practices. But from the beginning of his tenure, after two officers were fatally shot in Brooklyn in December 2014, the police department and its union doubled down in opposition to reform. One example was to effectively prevent public disclosure of internal investigation files or the identities of police officers known to be the subjects of those investigations.

Guest – Michael Hayes, in addition to his recently released book, Michael has long reported on the policies and practices of U.S. police departments and covered major criminal trials across the country.

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