Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday announced the end of the citywide curfew one day ahead of schedule.
Five days in a row of peaceful protests and far fewer arrests than earlier in the week led to his decision, said the mayor in a press conference on Sunday. “And honestly, I hope it’s the last time we’ll ever need a curfew in New York City,” he said.
However, City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo said that while the end to the curfew was certainly good news, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place: “A curfew was not warranted, nor beneficial to our city,” she said. “The curfew was used by the NYPD as another tactic to intimidate harass, and brutalize members of black and brown communities.”
But the tide seems to be turning in some parts of the country: Some cities are beginning to make concessions around public calls to defund their police department, also one of the universal demands of the Black Lives Matter protesters in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody. .
The Minneapolis city council took the first step on Sunday when a representative announced at an outdoor protest the Council planned to dismantle the city’s police department and replace it with a new system of public safety, a historic move.
“We will be taking intermediate steps toward ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months,” said Councilmembers Andrea Jenkins and Lisa Bender at Powderhorn Park.
However… It’s not exactly a done deal. Talk is cheap; action is expensive, and there’s still a mayor and a lot of other people with whom this announcement has not yet passed muster. For example, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey already has responded, saying he’s willing to “reform” the police department rather than disband it entirely.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the calls to defund continue. And on Monday, the city eagerly begins its Phase 1 of the UnPause, a loosening of social distancing restrictions and a partial opening of many of the city’s business, out of the shadows of the coronavirus.
“This week has been a very long week. A tough week for sure,” said de Blasio, “A week when people called for change. And change will happen.”
The mayor said he supports banning or reforming the 50-A Law, the law that allows police, firefighters and corrections officers to seal from the public their personnel records and activity, therefore absolving them of any real accountability or oversight in wrongdoing.
“… The current 50-A law is broken and stands in the way of improving trust between police and community,” said de Blasio on Sunday. “I’m waiting to see the final wording that has just been issued in Albany by the Legislature of the bill that they will review in the next few days.
“But based on what I’ve seen so far, I want to support that legislation clearly, and what the Legislature is looking to do, I hope they will do it as early as Monday or Tuesday, is take away the provisions in 50-A that held back transparency while still protecting the valid security, personal information of our police officers.
“That is the right direction. I commend the Legislature. I call on them to get this done this week. Let’s make 50-A, as we knew it, a thing of the past so we can have transparency in our disciplinary process and give the public confidence.”