Prior to thousands of people taking to the streets every night in protest, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the police department to use a “light touch” when dealing with protesters. That is not what happened.
In viral videos that spread across the internet, police officers were seen using excessive force in attempts to control the demonstrations. In Brooklyn, an NYPD car plowed into a crowd of protesters who put a barricade in front of the vehicle while throwing debris.
At another protest, a male police officer was caught on video shoving a woman to the ground, which reportedly sent her to the hospital. On Saturday, a cop was captured pulling down the face mask of a young block protester and pepper spraying him in the face.
Mayor de Blasio has since called for an independent investigation into the clashes between protesters and police officers. He has appointed Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett and Corporation Counsel Jim Johnson to take the lead on the probe.
Attorney General Letitia James will also investigate possible police misconduct during the demonstrations.
While the investigations are necessary and a good first step for accountability, de Blasio’s comments defending the NYPD’s actions are worrisome. It’s a complete about-face for someone who campaigned for mayor in 2013 as a reformer, but failed to bring justice for Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and many other African-Americans who were killed by the police.
Mayor de Blasio has truly failed to show any leadership during this critical moment in history. There are already calls for his resignation following his latest blunders.
Whoever replaces him in next year’s election must have a plan in place to bring real reform to the NYPD. Otherwise, they are destined to follow in de Blasio’s footsteps.