Veto Police Discipline Bill, Activists Tell Cuomo

Protestors against the Eric Garner grand jury decision on Dec. 3 (Photo by Julius Motal for Voices of NY)

Protestors against the Eric Garner grand jury decision on Dec. 3 (Photo by Julius Motal for Voices of NY)

In the wake of protests about a grand jury decision on Staten Island not to indict the police officer implicated in the death of Eric Garner last summer, civil rights and social justice activists are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto a bill that would permit police unions to impose disciplinary actions on their members, David Howard King reports in Gotham Gazette.

The bill, S7801/A9853, and Cuomo’s veto of it, is a major platform item for those involved in action across New York City in response to the grand jury decision. For a second straight night on Thursday, protesters flooded streets, chanting, shutting down major roadways and staging ‘die-ins.’ The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and Assembly. The only votes against in the Senate came from Sens. Liz Krueger and James Seward.

Both Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have indicated that they are interested in criminal justice reforms. A good first step, indicate groups such as Communities United For Police Reform, Center for Popular Democracy, Make the Road NY and the NYCLU, would be for Cuomo to go ahead and veto the legislation.

New York City Council members Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams said in a statement some months ago that “if signed into law, this bill would severely undermine the City’s ability to hold police officers accountable for their actions.” And the Brooklyn NAACP wrote that “this bill would strip local public officials of disciplinary authority over the police officers they employ, which would have a detrimental impact on the accountability of local police departments, and thus safety and public confidence in the police.”

For more on the controversy, go to Gotham Gazette.

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