The Green Parties of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and New York counties strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by the New York Police Department (NYPD) during the past week of protests in the five boroughs of New York City, as protesters voiced their outrage over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Party officials denounced Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for more police and a curfew, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s refusal to rein in the heavy-handed tactics of the NYPD.
After more than a week of protests, the Mayor and the NYPD continue to antagonize protesters and abuse their rights, rights that are fundamental to our democracy. Instead of allowing peaceful protests, police have pushed, shoved, tackled, and mercilessly beaten protesters with their batons. They have even been aggressive toward bystanders and journalists covering the protests.
In one incident, hundreds of police in riot gear trapped thousands of protesters on the off-ramp of the Manhattan Bridge for over an hour. Only the willingness of protesters to march back over to Brooklyn prevented more police abuse and arrests.
The Green Party strongly condemns the incident on Saturday, May 30, when two police cars plowed into a group of protesters in Brooklyn. “It is bad enough when police abuse New Yorkers,” said Candace Carponter, Chair of the Green Party of Brooklyn. “But for Mayor de Blasio to then defend those police officers and place the blame on protesters means that no one is safe from that abuse.”
“Citizens who want to protest peacefully have the right to expect that their safety will be ensured by the police, not in spite of them,” said Debra Rosario, Chair of the Bronx Green Party. “Mayor de Blasio has a moral obligation to restrain the NYPD, with its history of profiling, terrorizing, and killing black and brown residents.”
The Party also condemns the 8 pm curfew imposed on Tuesday, June 2, and lasting through the weekend. Acting without any consultation with local community groups, Mayor de Blasio sent the message that protesters demanding justice are not allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights, and gave the NYPD yet another reason to arrest citizens who only want to peacefully protest the abuse of police power. Green Party leaders also expressed concern about arrestees who were confined for more than 24 hours behind bars without seeing a judge.
“Free speech and assembly are 24/7 First Amendment rights. They don’t end at 8 pm, and then start again at 5 am,” said Chris Archer, Chair of the Green Party of New York County. “Protesters should be treated the same way as all citizens of our city. They should receive due process as provided by law,” said Archer.
Police violence against protesters is a tactic to divert attention and frighten people from fully engaging and participating in changing the corridors of power. The Green Party calls for immediate and sweeping police reform including redirecting at least $1 billion of New York City’s police budget to support community needs and social services, demilitarization, community control of the police, de-escalation and conflict resolution training, an end to broken windows policing, opening up police disciplinary records to the public, the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases where police are involved in the death of an unarmed civilian, and enforcement of the ban on chokeholds, among others.