Thousands of New Yorkers responded to the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 by taking to the streets to protest police brutality and racist police misconduct. Ironically, the NYPD’s response to those demonstrations is itself the subject of at least 146 accusations of excessive force.
New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board recently released a massive 590-page report based on 321 complaints it received from protestors. The board investigated 226 of those reports. Of those, the board found 146 incidents where specific officers could be charged with police brutality. The report notes that there were hundreds more alleged cases where the officer could not be identified — often because of officers covering up their badges with black mourning bands or refusing to say their names at the scene.
Some of the worst allegations
Among the dozens of accusations:
- An officer drove their police vehicle into a crowd of protestors, hitting several of them.
- An officer pulled down a protestor’s COVID-19 facemask to pepper-spray him straight in the face.
- Officers attacked protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge, tackling them and using batons to hit the demonstrators on the head.
The board recommended discipline against 89 NYPD officers, including criminal charges for at least some of them. Currently, 62 officers face possible administrative discipline, while the department declined to discipline nine others. Separately, three officers have pleaded guilty to charges and another five forfeited vacation days. Another five retired or resigned from the force before possible disciplinary action.
The police must obey the law like everyone else. When they exceed their authority and abuse a suspect, everybody’s rights are threatened. The victim themselves could sustain life-threatening or disabling injuries at the police’s hands. Fortunately, victims have the right to seek justice.