New York Poised to Overturn Law Shielding Police Misconduct Records

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, D- Buffalo, speaks in favor of new legislation for police reform while standing with Assembly members during a news briefing at the state Capitol on June 8, 2020, in Albany, N.Y.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, D- Buffalo, speaks in favor of new legislation for police reform while standing with Assembly members during a news briefing at the state Capitol on June 8, 2020, in Albany, N.Y. AP Photo/Hans Pennink

 

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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | New Jersey AG still sending out price gouging letters … Washington state will take up Tacoma police custody case … Austin opens up applications for people to be part of redistricting commission.

New York lawmakers unveiled a package of legislation Monday that would overturn a state law that keeps police disciplinary records secret and prohibit officers from using chokeholds. Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend said he will support the legislation. New York has long had one of the most secretive state laws protecting police misconduct files from being released to the media or public. Known as “50-a” for its section in the state civil rights law, the measure first adopted in 1974 has been defended by police unions as necessary to protect officers, particularly in light of recent protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. "It is inconceivable that Governor Cuomo would want to arm those extremists with confidential police personnel records, so that they bring their weapons to our front doors,” said Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association labor union. (State law already prohibits disclosure of home addresses, but the bill also prohibits their release.) Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat from Buffalo, said the proposals are about accountability. “Black people and all people of color are not anti-police, we are anti-bad police,” she said. “For generations, we have been hunted, abused, mentally and physically, by bad police. Those who are supposed to serve and protect us.” [New York Daily News; City & State New York; Newsday]

CORONAVIRUS GOUGING | Even as coronavirus cases have dropped in New Jersey, people are continuing to make complaints about alleged price gouging. Last Friday, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said he had just sent out an additional 100 cease-and-desist letters to businesses. [NJ.com]

WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS | Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka asked the city council to officially declare white supremacy groups as terrorists. “We are long overdue on a measure such as this. For this country to heal, we must begin to legally challenge the insidious and dehumanizing tenets of white supremacy, once and for all,” he said. [Insider NJ]

AG INVESTIGATION | The Washington State Attorney General will begin an investigation into the death of Mannie Ellis, who died in police custody in Tacoma in March. Gov. Jay Inslee promised an independent review after Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mary Robnett had completed her investigation, but she welcomed the attorney general’s immediate assistance. “In the interests of justice, the Attorney General’s review should begin now. There is simply no reason to wait,” Robnett said. [KOMO]

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICTS | The Austin city auditor announced an application process for citizens to apply to become part of an independent redistricting commission to redraw council district boundaries in the city. Residents must have been registered to vote in Austin for at least five years and have voted in at least three of the last five general municipal elections to be eligible. “Since 2013, Austin’s population has increased by approximately 15% with more than 130,000 residents,” said City Auditor Corrie Stokes. “We are excited to work with the community on this important initiative to create a commission that reflects Austin’s diversity.” [KVUE]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.

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