How many more Black lives can we watch destroyed without justice? How many more guilty cops can we watch run free? In the candid words of Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old black woman who died while in police custody last year:
“It is time to wake up, get up, step up, or shut up.”
Now is the time for us to mobilize against unjust police practices that are destroying our communities. We need a concrete mechanism to make the police accountable to the people they have failed to serve and protect.
Currently in New York City, victims of police misconduct are directed to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), an executive body of individuals appointed by the Police Commissioner, the Mayor, and City Council. Given its relationship with the city establishment, the CCRB is notoriously known for being biased and ineffective. Despite the guise of a fair hearing, the Commissioner has ultimate control over what punishment, if any, gets enacted by the CCRB and the board’s rulings cannot be challenged by the public without new evidence or new witnesses. Thus, victims who file grievances with the CCRB, quickly realize it is a dead end.
The system, as it stands, is not designed to protect us, but we can fight for a new one that will. An Elected Civilian Review Board (ECRB) is an elected body made up of everyday people who represent communities most affected by police violence: people of color, young people, LGBT people, people in public housing, etc. When paired with an elected Special Prosecutor, the ECRB has the power to investigate, discipline, and prosecute police misconduct, holding the department en masse accountable for the abuse. We need organizations and concerned community members (like you!) to make the ECRB reality.