Police reform activists renew call for Bratton's resignation

Hours before the Ferguson grand jury decision was announced, protesters spoke out against NYPD Commissioner Bratton and his discriminatory "Broken Windows" approach to policing

By LOUIS FLORES

With tensions growing over brutality and homicides committed by increasingly militarised police forces across America, police reform activists protested outside New York University School of Law in Manhattan, to continue their demand for the resignation of New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton.  Activists also demanded an end to the neoconservative policing theory that underpins Commissioner Bratton worldview, known as "Broken Windows," which has been shown to disproportionately impact people of color and low-income communities.

"No conversation about urban crime is complete without the communities that are affected by his Broken Windows policing theory, by the actions of his officers we've seen in Staten Island, as we've seen most recently in East New York with the murder of Akai Gurley," said Josmar Trujillo, a member of the group, New Yorkers Against Bratton, adding that, "We need these community voices here, and we need to be able to challenge Commissioner Bratton, and we collectively all agree that Commissioner Bratton should never have been here, and we continue to demand the removal of Commissioner Bratton and an end to Broken Windows-based policing."

When mayor-elect Bill de Blasio first announced last December during his transition period that he was going to appoint Mr. Bratton as the new police commissioner, police reform activists began to protest the appointment, even before Mr. de Blasio was sworn in as mayor, including by shaming minority leaders, who went along with the regressive appointment.  

Commissioner Bratton had previously headed the NYPD under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York City) during the mid 1990's.  Now, during his second appointment as the city's top cop, Commissioner Bratton has overseen a series of policing controversies that make activists to the mayor's political left believe that the mayor is not committed to fully honouring his central campaign promise to end racial and brutal policing tactics that continue to enflame tensions in New York City.

Jay Del, center, represented the group El Grito de Sunset Park at a speakout Monday night against NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.  Mr. Del questioned why police officers patrol communities with their guns drawn and with their fingers on the trigger.  Source :  Louis Flores

Jay Del, center, represented the group El Grito de Sunset Park at a speakout Monday night against NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.  Mr. Del questioned why police officers patrol communities with their guns drawn and with their fingers on the trigger.  Source :  Louis Flores

Since his return, Commissioner Bratton ordered a crackdown pursuant to his Broken Windows approach to policing that has targeted young black men riding public transportation in The Bronx, resulting in the brutality of immigrant senior citizens for just crossing the street, a spree of arrests of subway artists and performers, the controversial use of pepper spray on environmental activists, and the non-stop brutality and homicide of minority community residents, including the murders of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Mr. Gurley in Brooklyn just this year alone.

Of Commissioner Bratton's return to New York, another activist, Jose LaSalle, said "He came back to New York City with the Broken Windows policing, and all you have seen is people of colour being targeted for minor crimes, being arrested and criminalised every single day."

Community concerns about race- and income-based policing are taking place as the nation also reviews programs that have provided police departments with miliary-like weapons.  Against this backdrop, biases and prejudices also influence police officers to enter communities of color and low-incomes already bearing arms, with their fingers on the trigger, even though there are no reports that would require armed police response.

Another speaker, Jay Del, asked, "Why is the response more weapons ?"

After the speakout, some of the activists entered NYU School of Law to hear a speech being delivered by Commissioner Bratton.  

Later Monday evening, a separate and larger group of protesters gathered at Union Square Park in Manhattan to hear the announcement that a grand jury empaneled to review evidence in the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, did not find probable cause to charge the officer, Darren Wilson, with any crime. 

Protesters outraged by the failure to indict Officer Wilson commenced an uptown march from Union Square through the streets of New York City.  As protesters marched through Times Square on their way up to Harlem last night, somebody splashed fake blood on Commissioner Bratton.  A photograph of a red-stained police commissioner, taken by Jeff Rae, went viral on Twitter.  

Other protests took place Monday night outside the White House in Washington, in Chicago, in Seattle, and throughout California, in cities like Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, amongst other U.S. major cities.  Protests in Ferguson turned violent, as cars were set on fire, and several businesses were burned to the ground.  Anger at the broken judicial system was plainly evident.  However, the police response was not to be out-done.  The over-militarised police forces patrolling St. Louis County, Missouri, even launched tear gas bombs at on-air personalities reporting live about the grand jury's decision for CNN.