Parents, activists call for resignation of Bill Bratton, end to ‘Broken Windows’ policing
PROTEST City Hall on Monday July 21st at 12 p.m.
With the support of Parents Against Police Brutality and National Action Against Police Brutality, New Yorkers Against Bratton and other activists are calling for the resignation of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, a federal investigation into the NYPD’s culture of brutality and an end to ‘Broken Windows’ based policing.
The death of Staten Island man Eric Garner has outraged the city—especially since this is not an isolated incident of excessive and fatal force by the NYPD on an unarmed civilian. The list is long but names include Nicholas Heyward Jr., Anthony Baez, Anthony Rosario, Malcolm Ferguson, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Shantel Davis, Kimani Gray, Ramarley Graham and now Eric Garner. The recurrence of these incidents indicates a pattern and culture of brutality that has not been fundamentally changed by NYPD top brass. Garner, like Baez, died as a result of a chokehold done in spite of the tactic being banned by the NYPD’s patrol guide since 1992. Bratton—who was commissioner during both Baez and Garner’s deaths—famously called the families of Heyward, Rosario and Baez ‘a bunch of fools’ during a contentious town hall meeting in 1995. As such he is not only not the right person to heal wounds between the NYPD and the community, he has shown he is incapable of controlling his police officers.
Additionally, Garner’s death is directly related to Broken Windows policing—Bratton’s signature policing theory. The NYPD alleges that Garner was targeted for arrest for the sale of untaxed cigarettes—a ‘quality of life’ crime, as Bratton alluded to when he took questions on Garner’s death from reporters. The focus on low-level crimes has been reinvigorated this year by Bratton who introduced it on a major scale as NYPD commissioner in the 1990’s. Bratton has exponentially increased arrests of panhandlers, homeless NYers and performers in the subways in the first six months of 2014. In February, Jerome Murdough, a homeless veteran with a history of mental illness, died in his Rikers cell after his arrest for sleeping in an East Harlem staircase—a quality of life crime. Broken Windows leads to broken lives for countless New Yorkers who are thrust into a broken criminal justice system, can end up in overcrowded jails where corrections officers use alarming amounts of excessive force, and—as the case of Garner shows—can become subject to tactics that can lead to death.
As most of the city rightfully supports the family of Eric Garner, we call for more substantive changes to the NYPD, as well. The firing and prosecution of Daniel Pantaleo and other officers responsible for Garner’s death is not enough. The 120th Precinct’s Deputy Inspector Joseph Veneziano and Staten Island Borough Commander Ed Delatorre must also be held responsible but ultimately the commissioner is responsible for the continued pattern of brutality and the underlying policing priorities that led to the incident.