Activists Say: Bill Bratton’s Appointment Must Be Met by Resistance Not Celebration!
Activists have organized campaigns to oppose Bratton's appointment as NYPD Commissioner
[Op-Ed: Community Announcement]
Demonstrate: Friday, December 27, 2013, 6 PM
125th Street & Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, Harlem
Statement from Parents Against Police Brutality, and the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation (New York Committee)
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has dug a knife deep into the backs of New Yorkers with his appointment of William J. Bratton as the next NYPD Commissioner. This is de Blasio’s answer to New Yorkers’ growing outrage with the illegitimate, apartheid-like stop-and-frisk policy, and escalating police violence and brutality against unarmed – mainly Black and Latino -- civilians.
Bill Bratton’s resume is one of escalation of police power directed against the people from Boston to New York to Los Angeles. We can look to the bone-chilling reality of Bratton's New York, when he was NYPD Commissioner between 1994 and 1996. Allegations of mistreatment, police brutality, deaths in custody and unjustified shootings became so serious during Bratton's tenure that Amnesty International – which usually investigates reports of human rights abuses in countries whose governments are unpopular with the U.S. government -- sent a team from London to investigate.
From 1994 to 1996, New York saw an explosion in the number of people arrested. In 1994, 198,066 people were arrested. In 1995, 268,057 were arrested. The majority of arrests were for non-violent misdemeanors. Thousands were arrested for "illegal peddling," 40,000 youth were picked up by police for truancy. Bratton's "Streets Crimes Unit" made 9,000 arrests in 45,000 stops in the two years under Bratton's "Stop-and-Frisk" policy. 63% of those stopped in those two years were Black, and most of the others were Latino. Close to 90% of those "Stopped and Frisked" were people of color.
The 1996 Amnesty report described, "...a serious problem of police brutality and excessive force," in the NYPD under Bratton’s watch. Additionally, the report stated, "Racial disparities appear to be most marked in cases involving deaths in custody and questionable shootings."
Bratton dismissed the 72-page Amnesty International report as having no merit, despite the fact that Amnesty used the NYPD’s own statistics. Amnesty found that in Bratton's first year in office, there was a 34.8% increase in civilians shot dead by NYPD, a 53.3% increase in civilians who died in police custody, an upsurge in the number of civilians injured from officers’ firearm discharge, and 4,920 new police brutality complaints by citizens made to the City's Civilian Complaint Review Board, an increase of 37% over the previous year (according to the New York Times, in 1995, 8,767 complaints were filed with the CCRB, and between July 1993 and December 1996, the CCRB handled 16,327 complaints). Conveniently, the American mainstream media turned a blind eye to this historic and damning report.
More: A police murder spree ensued during the two years on Bratton's watch. Between January 1994 and August 1996, over 60 people died at the hands of NYPD. The book Stolen Lives: Killed By Law Enforcement, published by the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, the National Lawyers Guild and the Anthony Baez Foundation, has documented the horrifying reality of Bratton's New York: Nicholas Heyward Jr.,13 years young; Anthony Baez, 29 years young; Shu'aib Abdul Latif, 17 years young; Antony Rosario, 18 years young; Hilton Vega, 22 years young; Anibal Carasquillo, 21 years young; Yong Xin Huang, 16 years young, Frankie Arzuaga, 15 years young. The list of Stolen Lives under Bratton goes on.
Bill Bratton's "reforms" can only mean more misery and degradation for Black and Latino peoples. His appointment is designed to deceive and demobilize all those outraged by racist stop-and-frisk and the escalation of police violence directed against people of color. Bratton's history is part of a (war) waged against Black and Latinos, and his appointment must be met with determined resistance from all quarters, not celebration.