Police reform activists do dry run of upcoming NYPD Five Points March for Reform

The NYPD Five Points March was so named, because of the close proximity of the five government offices, which have authority to empanel a commission to investigate NYPD corruption, to the notorious crime-riddent neighborhood known as Five Points.

By LOUIS FLORES

Police reform activists, who are planning what they call an NYPD Five Points March for Reform set to take place on Columbus Day, walked through their planned protest route today.  Activists expect the free-flowing Columbus Day march to be open to anyone, who wants to join.

The artist and political blogger Suzannah B. Troy stood near the fountain at City Hall Park with her protest sign.  Activists distributed cards and flyers with information about the upcoming NYPD Five Points March for Reform. Source :  Louis Flores

The artist and political blogger Suzannah B. Troy stood near the fountain at City Hall Park with her protest sign.  Activists distributed cards and flyers with information about the upcoming NYPD Five Points March for Reform. Source :  Louis Flores

The activists met at the fountain at City Hall Park, where activists unfurled banners and protest signs, handing out flyers and cards about the need for reform of the troubled New York Police Department.

From the fountain, activists walked past City Hall and made their way to One Police Plaza, the headquarters for the NYPD.  Outside OPP, one of the activists, Suzannah B. Troy, made remarks about police corruption, including at the department's Internal Affairs Bureau.  A portion of Ms. Troy's remarks were filmed and posted to YouTube.

The NYPD Five Points March for Reform banner was unfurled in front of the United States Courthouse at 40 Centre Street.  Source :  Suzannah B. Troy.

Activists then walked to One St. Andrews Plaza, the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, where activists planned to call on the top Manhattan federal prosecutor to appoint a commission to investigate NYPD corruption.  A team from U.S. Attorney Bharara's office recently exposed unconstitutional treatment of minors at Rikers Island, earning praise from law enforcement reform activists.  The explosive report, which documented civil rights abuses at Rikers, has escalated political pressure on the de Blasio administration to deliver concrete reforms of the city's troubled law enforcement agencies and detention centers.

After leaving the U.S. Attorney's Office, activists then stood for a while in front of the United States Courthouse on Centre Street before walking to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, where activists handed out flyers and cards, engaging with other victims of violence and police corruption.  

Ms. Troy, holding her protest sign outside the New York City Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Downtown Manhattan.  Source :  Louis Flores

Activists then walked to the New York City Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, headed by Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos.  Whenever police reform activists have complained about NYPD corruption to the United States Department of Justice, activists have been told to contact the FBI.  The FBI has authority to investigate NYPD corruption.  If neither Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, U.S. Attorney Bharara, nor Manhattan D.A. Vance appoint an independent, outside commission to investigate corruption at NYPD and IAB, activists plan to demand that Assistant Director Venizelos lead the charge to investigate the city's troubled police department.

The NYPD Five Points March was so named, because of the close proximity of the five government offices, which have authority to empanel a commission to investigate NYPD corruption, but have thus far failed.  The five government offices are a few blocks away from the old Five Points intersection east of the courthouse complex, where unchecked violence was allowed to exist for almost a century.  The crime-ridden neighborhood was the subject of a Hollywood feature film, Gangs of New York, directed by Martin Scorsese.

For years, the city's police department has been been found guilty of violating the constitutional rights, civil liberties, civil rights, and other freedoms of innocent New Yorkers.  A federal ruling by Judge Shira Scheindlin found that the NYPD had been violating the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by carrying out an illegal and discriminatory policing tactic known as "stop and frisk."  Violations by police of the Handschu Agreement, along with an endless spree of police brutality and even murder, including the violent crackdown of Occupy Wall Street, have galvanized activists to press the city to weed out bad cops, investigate police corruption, and to introduce real accountability for the nation's largest municipal police force.

Recently, after a municipal government whistleblower accused Commissioner Bratton of delivering false testimony before the City Council, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito retaliated against the whistleblower by firing him in a move that drew complaints from police reform activists that the political allies of Mayor de Blasio were trying to deliberately thwart efforts to overall the NYPD.  After a former leader of the NYPD's civilian oversight panel revealed that the Civilian Complaint Review Board was engaging in misconduct, she, too, was improperly fired.  Police reform activists have long accused the CCRB of fixing cases to protect bad cops.  

These controversies add to growing tensions following the murder of an unarmed, innocent man, Eric Garner, on a Staten Island sidewalk after he was placed in an illegal chokehold by a police officer.  NYPD have also recently tackled a pregnant Brooklyn woman to the ground belly-first, placed another pregnant Brooklyn woman in an illegal chokehold, assaulted an innocent youth in the Bronx, who was only peacefully exiting a mass transit bus, and attacked a senior citizen trying to cross the street.  As more and more instances of police brutality and corruption, including a ticket-fixing case now being tried by the office of the Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, come to light, the more activists are realizing that the de Blasio administration's promises of reforming the NYPD were lies just to get elected, some activists say, escalating expectations that the only way to truly reform the city's unmanageable police department would be if a state or federal agency could appoint a commission with subpoena power to investigate NYPD brutality and corruption.