On June 9, 2020, the New York State legislature voted to repeal 50-a, the law that shields police misconduct. On June 12, Governor Cuomo signed the Safer NY Act, that which overturns 50-a, into law.
We are in awe of the incredible leadership Communities United for Police Reform and other organizations committed to criminal justice reform have exerted in making this change a reality. As we feel a city grasping for justice, the repeal of 50-a is a moment of light.
After what has happened in New York City in recent days, there are a lot of obviously bad actors that need to be held accountable — notably among them, NYPD Commissioner Shea and elected officials that have propped up and directly or indirectly enabled the NYPD to be the racist organization that it is. But as the dust settles following today’s repeal of 50-a, we cannot lose sight of the lack of leadership at the top.
Mayor Bill de Blasio needs to go.
Guiding a city of over 8 million people through the storm of a pandemic and cumulative days of violence and social unrest is no simple task. But it’s also not as impossibly difficult as Mayor de Blasio is making it out to be. We are lacking a leader that says — and then follows through with action — that the NYPD is racist and needs to be defunded. We are lacking a leader that pushes for 50-a to be repealed and that holds bad actors — of which there are many, and many more than we even know — accountable. We are lacking a leader that shows up and does the work. Although 50-a was a New York State statute, the de Blasio administration has consistently aided the secrecy of the NYPD and declined to provide information hidden by 50-a. Moreover, Mayor de Blasio did nothing to hear the call of justice advocates to join in the call to repeal the statute in Albany.
The fact is that the tension, the violence, the sickness, the inequality characterizing the past few weeks — let alone the past few months — is on his shoulders, and he has made it all worse.
New Kings Democrats works day in and day out to challenge politics-as-usual in Brooklyn. We are volunteers that obsess over ways to take electeds to task — even those that we have previously endorsed — if they are not acting in the best interests of their constituents, particularly those that have been traditionally underrepresented in politics. When de Blasio first ran for mayor, we endorsed him; we believed in his progressive vision for the city, which he has fully abandoned. We know a lot of politicians seek power — but Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray do so blatantly and grossly disrespectfully. Mayor de Blasio is supposedly positioning his wife for a Brooklyn Borough President — and potentially a Mayoral — run. They are unfit to lead.
No politician is owed their seat by New Yorkers. New Yorkers deserve leaders that show up day in and day out, ready to fight for the oppressed and the disadvantaged. They deserve leaders who identify inequitable systems at play in our society, call them out, and work to fix them.
At the moment we need a capable and present mayor, but we have Bill de Blasio.
New Kings Democrats is a grassroots political club that focuses on ways to reform the Brooklyn Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is structured in a way that enables those in power to stay in power and make decisions behind closed doors that affect New Yorkers’ lives. We believe in putting information about how decisions are made in the hands of New Yorkers. Why did the state legislature finally repeal 5-0a? Because New Yorkers marched, called, emailed, tweeted. They learned from each other and acted together until, together, everyone was loud enough to force the hand of a risk-averse Senate and Assembly, where justice advocates had been calling for this change for years.
Mayor de Blasio could have acted all along. He could have called for the NYPD to make officers’ disciplinary records public. He could have fired Officer Pantaleo immediately after he murdered Eric Garner. Mayor de Blasio knows how this all works, but benefits from the opaqueness that characterizes the political system in this city and state. He has amplified the problem with the system.
It’s time for New York City to begin to heal. We have no time for anyone other than a truly progressive mayor committed to reforming the scars that have shaped the legal system in our city. It’s time for de Blasio to go and for the next mayor to be the leader New Yorkers deserve.
New Kings Democrats is a progressive political organization focused on reforming the Kings County Democratic Party.