In August of this year, activists scored a victory when Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York police department’s stop-and-frisk practices were unconstitutional and racially biased. In an effort to contest the ruling, the city filed an appeal which mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has said he will drop. Still de Blasio’s appointment of William J. Bratton as police commissioner has people in the police reform movement concerned. Bratton is known for his expansion of stop-and-frisk under the Giuliani administration and during his tenure at the LAPD. How do activists and citizens keep promises from being more than just talking points? Joo-Hyun Kang, formerly of the Audre Lorde Project and now Director of Communities United for Police Reform, says that, “Safety doesn’t have to be at the cost of respect and dignity. Our job as activists is to make sure that (de Blasio’s promise of change) doesn’t turn into just something for a campaign.”
Lawsuits and politicians are key to ending stop-and-frisk, but so are communities implementing a more active role in their own safety and the safety of their neighbors. On Monday, Communities United for Police Reform issued a report titled “Safety and Civil Rights for All New Yorkers” which calls for de Blasio and Bratton to lead with just, effective and transparent police policy. On transparency Kang says, “The more transparent we are about how government works… and what government does and doesn’t do, the more everyday New Yorkers can take responsibility.”
She concludes, “When we talk about safety we need to talk about, not just law enforcement’s role [but also ] our co-production of safety [in our communities] . What we’re calling for is for all of us to take care of each other”
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