New York attorney general Letitia James said the NYPD had years to reform its officials but took no significant steps to do so.
New York attorney general Letitia James took the drastic step of suing New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the New York City Police Department on allegations that the city responded to protests against Black Lives Matter with excessive and unreasonable violence.
Reuters reports that the lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court in Manhattan.
In it, James explains that police repeatedly – for no reason – used batons, chemical suppressors, and other unnecessarily aggressive tactics against New Yorkers to protest the summer murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Despite numerous protesters hospitalized for broken bones and other injuries, the vast majority of New York police officers suspected of the brutality have not received any criminal charges or disciplinary action.
In addition to excessive violence, James has also accused the New York Police Department of illegally arresting protesters for no reason.
According to Reuters, it concerns the application of a controversial counterinsurgency technique called “Kettling” by the NYPD. As LegalReader has already reported, “kettling” occurs when police officers form a physical barrier around a group of demonstrators. The barrier, which often consists of officers with shields and baton, enables officers to selectively detain demonstrators in one place.
Kettling maneuvers are often followed by arbitrary mass arrests.
New York Attorney General and former City Councilor Letitia James. Image via Wikimedia Commons / User: Matthew Cohen. (CCA-BY-2.0).
In response to the lawsuit, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said he and his office support police reform but must oppose James’ complaint.
“A lawsuit and the additional bureaucracy of a federal monitor will not accelerate this work,” said DeBlasio. “There is no time to lose and we will keep moving forward.”
Police lawyers have also tried to divert the blame. Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association – New York’s largest law enforcement union – said the police officers’ arbitrary reaction was a result of poor city leadership and lack of coordination.
“They sent cops to the police force, unprecedented protests and violent riots with no plan, no strategy and no support,” Lynch told the New York Times. “You should be forced to answer for the resulting chaos instead of pointing your fingers at police officers in the streets and ignoring the criminals who attacked us with bricks and fire bombs.”
However, James has said that the promises and protests made by DeBlasio and police officers were not backed up by any discernible measure.
“There have been ample opportunities and opportunities for the city and the NYPD leadership to make important changes to the way officials deal with peaceful protesters, but time and again they have not,” James said in a statement.
“They did not train, they did not supervise, they did not stop any officers who were involved in this wrongdoing,” she added. “And they didn’t discipline them either. Instead, they abandoned the people of New York. “
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