Amidst the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, compounded by scenes of police brutality against demonstrators, a few lights are starting to burn brighter at the end of this tunnel. Officers seen overstepping their bounds have been filmed throughout the unrest, some outright losing their jobs in the aftermath, and outdated laws are now starting to be repealed at the behest of the public they were designed to protect.
Rihanna, Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, The Jonas Brothers, Ariana Grande and Diplo were among hundreds of members of the music industry who signed an open letter this week urging New York State to repeal statute 50-A, which keeps police officers' disciplinary and personnel records private.
State lawmakers have since decided to pass a bill to put that repeal into action along with other police accountability measures including banning the use of chokeholds, guaranteeing the right to record police activity, and making it easier to file suit against those making race-based 911 calls.
The open letter from the music industry reads in part, "we must hold accountable those who violate the oath to protect and serve, and find justice for those who are victim to their violence... It must be repealed immediately."
Upon news of the repeal, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) issued a statement saying, “we applaud the state Senate and state Assembly leaders and the broader civil rights community who have been working for years to pass this much-needed reform."
"Section 50-A is part of the infrastructure of secrecy that undermines reform of the police and justice for victims in New York. The music community is honored to support their brave work that has set the stage for the current moment of reform. We look forward to the governor signing this vital legislation into law this week.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke of the repeal in a press briefing saying, “we’re going to pass legislation this week that I’m going to sign that is going to lead the nation in police reform, releasing disciplinary records, what they call 50-A, banning chokeholds, which should have been done a long time ago.”
“That will be in the State law, having the Attorney General as a special prosecutor if there’s a question about killing by police where they’re killing an unarmed person. [This is] the most dramatic police reform in the country and it will happen in New York.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio invited Black activists onstage during his own daily briefing and spoke of the reform saying, “you’re going to see more transparency in police discipline, you’re going to see faster police discipline, people will know it and feel it.”
“That’s the standard I have to hold myself and the NYPD to, and that’s what we’ll do.”