The proposed legislation is a package of four bills being dubbed the Community Safety Act. The laws aim to “end discriminatory police practices and create an ‘Inspector General’ for the New York Police Department,” according to a press release from the New York Faith Leaders and Allies, which organized the event.
“When walking while black or when praying while Muslim can be interpreted as an activity worthy of suspicion,” said Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn. “We are not honoring the human rights of New Yorkers.”
The demonstration was held on International Human Rights Day.
The NYPD’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” program and the September killing of Mohamed Bah, an emotionally disturbed Guinean man whom police shot in his Harlem apartment after he allegedly wielded a knife on two officers, were major catalysts behind Monday’s demonstrations.
Bah’s sister, Oumou Bah, was also on hand to publicly denounce her brother’s killing and express support for the Community Safety Act.
Juumane Williams, another Brooklyn council member and the chief architect of the legislation, said the laws are necessary because too many police officers operate “unchecked” and without “independent oversight.”
Williams, who frequently wears a “No stop-and-frisk” button on his lapel and is an outspoken critict of the policy, added that the Community Safety Act was not an “anti-NYPD” bill, but rather one that would strengthen the department by improving officers’ conduct.
The Community Safety Act is made up of the following legislation:
1. Intro. 799 would ban police from coercing suspects or subjects into submitting to “wrongful searches.”
2. Intro. 800 would strictly ban any type of profiling, make police officers more accountable for doing so, and broaden the groups protected against profiling.
3. Intro. 801 would require officers to identify themselves to suspects or subjects.
4. Intro 881 calls for the creation of an independent Inspector General to look into cases of alleged police misconduct.
Stefan Ringel, Williams’ media relations director, said the proposed legislation enjoys bi-partisan support and will likely be addressed in committee or by the full council by year’s end or early next year.