New York | New York State Democratic Prosecutor on Thursday attacked New York police for use of “excessive force” over Black Lives Matter protests against racial inequalities following the death of the African American George Floyd.
“There is no doubt that the NYPD has repeatedly used excessive, brutal and unlawful force,” the prosecutor said in a statement, after investigating more than 1,300 complaints received by her office.
According to her, from May to December 2020, the New York police officers “blatantly” carried out unjustified arrests and used batons, pepper spray, and encirclement techniques in the face of “largely peaceful” demonstrators. She cited “155 cases of officers using excessive and unreasonable force”.
The complaint registered in Manhattan federal court targets Dermot Shea and Terence Monahan, the two main officials of the NYPD – the largest police force in the United States with some 35,000 agents – but also the Democratic mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who, as is customary in the United States, is their boss. The prosecutor says that they “did not train, supervise, not stop the agents involved in these misdeeds”.
It calls for “structural reforms” and the establishment of an “external” controller to check the management of demonstrations in the future.
The mayor and NYPD officials did not immediately respond.
During the May-June protests, where tens of thousands of people marched for days in Manhattan and Brooklyn, numerous videos circulated showing police manhandling or charging at peaceful protesters. On two occasions, the heart of Manhattan has been targeted by looters, prompting the mayor to institute a curfew.
The handling of the protests has exacerbated a climate of mistrust of the police, which some say contributed to the sharp rise in homicides in New York in 2020 (+ 40% compared to 2019).
A powerful police union, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), whose president campaigned for the re-election of Donald Trump, has always refuted these criticisms and instead denounced the chaos generated by the demonstrators.
Many municipal police forces have come under fire after George Floyd died in Minneapolis, suffocated by a white policeman. Across the United States, many protesters chanted the slogan “Defund the police”, which has become a red rag for Donald Trump and his supporters, calling for restoring “order. and the law ”.