A number of elected officials and community activists rallied for “recommitting to police accountability movement” this afternoon, in response to issues ranging from the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices to an offensive Facebook page. The rally was hosted by Councilman Jumaane Williams and the Public Advocate’s Director of Community Affairs, Kirsten John Foy, who were both infamously arrested last year. “If you’re not going to acknowledge that the NYPD has treated us like second-class citizens, has created a system of apartheid in the city of New York, we’re going to show you that there will be no peace,” Mr. Foy said to applause.
Councilman Williams placed special emphasis on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s upcoming State of the City speech. “If the Mayor does not acknowledge the NYPD accountability issue in this city at the State of the City address next week, what he’s saying is that he doesn’t care about most of the population of the city,” Mr. Williams announced. “He doesn’t care about the black community. He doesn’t care about the Latino community. He doesn’t care about the Muslim community. He doesn’t care about the poor among us.”
“If it’s not good for everyone in our society, it shouldn’t be OK for one segment of our society,” Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs added in a later statement. “To borrow from the famous Holocaust-era quote, first the NYPD came for the black and Latino community; if we don’t speak out, there will be no one left to speak out when they come for us.”
The rally also prominently featured an oversized petition to Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. At the bottom of the resolution, there was a place for both officials to sign the petition declaring that “the undersigned” will take specific steps to address the police’s treatment of young black and Latino men.
“We want to make sure that everybody understands — for some reason the press never plays this part when I say it — this is not an anti-NYPD rally,” Councilman Williams also cautioned in his speech. “This is a pro-better policing and safer streets rally. We can have those conversations at the same time.”
Watch the opening part of the rally below: