The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council

End systemic police violence now
Posted: June 6, 2020 - 10:53am

Our country’s legacy of racial oppression has left us with governments whose law enforcement officers all too often single out people of color for mistreatment, abuse and violence. A democratic society cannot accept this condition, which is deeply offensive to communities whose strength comes from their diversity. Many voices are now raised calling for fundamental change to end this longstanding injustice. We stand with them.

Gathering places of Prospect Heights— Flatbush Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Museum, and Grand Army Plaza—have become synonymous with the recent protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd. We welcome peaceful demonstrators of conscience in our community. They exercise their Constitutional right to freedom of speech, and they should receive the respect and compassion of our police. Instead, we have been sickened to see our streets become the scenes of attacks by officers of the NYPD against unarmed protesters that should never happen in the New York City of 2020.

As public outrage at police violence finds an outlet in continuing and justified demonstrations, the risk of a terrible tragedy unfolding on our neighborhood’s streets must be addressed at once. We call on Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Police Commissioner Shea, the New York State legislature and the New York City Council to take all action necessary to prevent further injury to those who assemble here and around the city seeking long overdue reforms. New York State’s police secrecy law, Section 50-a, which hides police misconduct and abuse records from the public and allows repeat offenders to stay on the job, must be repealed. We support New York State Attorney General James’ efforts to hold accountable officers who have engaged in misconduct during protests thus far. We urge persons with evidence of their actions to share it with the Attorney General’s office.

The NYPD’s budget has steadily increased during the de Blasio administration. As the City contemplates reduced revenues in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, we urge the Mayor and the City Council to take this opportunity to lower the cost of policing in New York City by finding creative ways to reduce the role of police in city life while maintaining vital public services like education and community development.

We do not choose racism. We do not choose police violence. We certainly do not choose a pandemic that has cost lives and livelihoods in our community, and brought our country to its knees. But we also have no choice other than to overcome them all together through commitment to our values, trust and respect for each other, and accountability from those who represent and serve us.