Protestors refuse to gloss over Bratton’s legacy

Stephon Johnson | 9/29/2016, 5:51 p.m.
“Working together in partnership in our neighborhood-based policing initiatives, they are forging the way forward in crime fighting and collaboration,” ...
Protestors demonstrate against Bill Bratton's legacy as NYPD Commissioners Stephon Johnson

“Working together in partnership in our neighborhood-based policing initiatives, they are forging the way forward in crime fighting and collaboration,” wrote former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in his resignation letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

There are a few people who would dispute the New York Police Department as a whole working with the community.

Last week, Bratton took a victory lap around the five boroughs, concluding with a final walk out of One Police Plaza in Lower Manhattan. Bagpipes, dignitaries, officers, elected officials and pomp and circumstance were a part of the ceremony. However, one group of people were off to the side and separated by a barricade. Their jeers were drowned out by the cheers of those shaking hands with Bratton.

These protestors were the activists, advocates and even city employees who labeled Bratton’s legacy as “poisonous” to Black and Brown New Yorkers.

“Everything has been a spectacle and a [expletive] photo op,” said Josmar Trujillo of the ad hoc group New Yorkers Against Bratton. Trujillo and others stood outside of One Police Plaza as set up began for Bratton’s last event as police commissioner.

“Bratton’s legacy hasn’t only meant New York City,” continued Trujillo. “He was an adviser in Baltimore when they were going through their Broken Windows evolution. He was a paid consultant in Oakland. He was obviously a police consultant in L.A. He has been one of the most influential people in the history of policing. His touch goes everywhere.”

Trujillo also said that activists in New Orleans told him that Bratton had, allegedly, been an adviser there as well.

Bratton’s victory lap isn’t a victory according to many local activists. A public defender, who wished to not be identified, spoke to the crowd and the AmNews about Bratton’s legacy. She also spoke about what she thought new Police Commissioner James O’Neill would bring to the table.

“Summonses were for marijuana, now it’s for jumping the turnstile,” she said. “I have clients who got criminal records ... convictions ... that will stay with them for the rest of their life for $2.75. Not only do they get a criminal record, but I have clients who have served jail time for jumping the turnstile. Thirty days in jail. And the prosecutors ... Cy Vance ... Ken Thompson, who asked for no jail time for Peter Liang, asked that my client serve one year in jail for jumping the turnstile. This isn’t ending with Bratton. His legacy will continue with O’Neill.”

“I’m so happy to see Bratton go, but we have to make sure his policies go,” the public defender continued. “They are decimating communities of color.”

This past summer alone, the AmNews has reported on several pieces of news that found Bratton’s image at odds with what was happening in Black and Brown communities. In August, the AmNews reported on an analysis conducted by the Police Reform Organizing Project. The report concluded that marijuana possession arrests rose almost 30 percent (9.331) in the first six months of this year when compared with the same period in 2015. The PROP report also showed that 90 percent of the NYPD’s marijuana possession arrests in the first six months of 2016 involved New Yorkers of color.