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20 Months of Bratton and De Blasio's NYPD

As some New Yorkers start to wonder if the appointment of Bratton wasn't a remarkably stupid idea, the sum of the de Blasio and Bratton era paints a picture that ought to put to rest the idea that New York has substantively reformed the NYPD.
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The man referred to as "the finest police leader in America" by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off the month of September by highlighting the 50 year old ideas of Daniel Patrick Moynihan to help explain crime as a product of the Black family structure. NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton, who served as commissioner 20 years ago, called Moynihan's ideas on race and society, known as the Moynihan Report (or it's official name: The Negro Family, The Case For National Action), "prescient" today even as the ideas have been controversial for quite some time.

Moynihan's musings were the ideological bedrock for an era of regressive and outright racist politics that promoted what were essentially conservative positions on race. Finding fault with the Black family and culture became a rallying point for Republicans, Democrats and even so-called black leaders who championed personal responsibility while minimizing or ignoring structural racism and white supremacy.

It's no surprise that Bratton is smitten with Moynihan's writings 50 years after the fact, but the self-described progressive Mayor couldn't agree, publicly breaking with Bratton for the first time. But as some New Yorkers start to wonder if the appointment of Bratton wasn't a remarkably stupid idea, the sum of the de Blasio and Bratton era paints a picture that ought to put to rest the idea that New York has substantively reformed the NYPD.

Here are some highlights that came to mind from the first 20 months of the NYPD under Bratton and de Blasio:


January 19th - Police officers knock down and bloody an 84 year old Asian man named Kang Wong after he jaywalked in the Upper West Side. Wong is given a ticket and Bratton defends the actions of cops, denying excessive force was used.

January 20th - Police officers in Queens assault and arrest Queens College student Alejandro Rodriguez after a verbal dispute on the street. Cops sitting a patrol car told Rodriguez to "enjoy your taco, you punk" and then say "Oh, he speaks english" when he responds.

February 24th - NYPD and MTA abandon plans to conduct pre-dawn sweeps of the homeless after outcry from activists and plans to protest and cop watch authorities

March 4th - Bratton and criminologist George Kelling, co-author of the Broken Windows theory, ride the subway at night to see if the homeless have returned to the transit system they tried so hard to kick them out of 20 years ago.

March 7th - The first two months of Bratton and de Blasio's regime see arrests of panhandlers and vendors in the subways triple, including an immigrant woman arrested for selling churros.

March 28th - Three women are arrested in the Union Square train station for selling churros without a licence.

April 6th - An immigrant food vendor says she has been arrested several times for selling churros in the subway. She says cops often keep the pastries and eat them in the precinct that she's held in.

April 10th - Bratton appears alongside US military generals in the Upper East Side and tells a room of police officials and wealthy New Yorkers about predictive policing and how they need to "win trust" even as they're going to be listening to their phone calls and tracking their movements via GPS.

May 17th - An NYPD sergeant in the Bronx shoves 14 year old Javier Payne through a glass window, sending him to the hospital where a bleeding Payne was treated for blood loss and had to have shards of glass removed from his chest and lungs.

May 20th - Bratton testifies at the city council and announces that counterterrorism cops are being redeployed into public housing as a response to a slight rise in crime. He also says that he's "supportive" of the idea of NYPD drones.

May 23rd - Cops conduct a pre-dawn raid on a homeless shelter in Manhattan, arresting 22 people.

May 30th - A man is forcibly arrested on a nearly empty F subway car for apparently sleeping on the train. The incident, caught on video, shows the man arguing and struggling with the cops as he explains he's coming home from work.

June 4th - The NYPD launches the city's biggest gang raid ever in West Harlem. Cops arrests dozens of young men from the Grant and Manhattanville houses and work to bring indictments against over 100 with the help from Manhattan DA Cy Vance. The arrests and indictments are buoyed by NYPD surveillance of social media accounts as they build complex conspiracy charges on many who had little if any role in actual crimes. The arrests and indictments of over 100 young men stem from two murders.

June 8th - Cops in Sunset Park violently subdue revelers during unofficial annual Sunset Park Puerto Rican day festival. 17 year old Enrique Del Rosario is beaten and charged with assaulting a police officer after cops arrest him for filming them. Charges against Del Rosario are dropped after other video contradicts police statements.

July 9th - Cops arrest five teenagers ranging from ages 16 to 19 for breakdancing in the subway. The teens were arrested for disorderly conduct even though they danced on the J train platform, which is not against the rules.

July 17th - Eric Garner is choked to death by NYPD detective Daniel Pantaleo, an 8 year veteran working from Staten Island's 120th precinct. Garner is choked to death much like Anthony Baez was choked by the NYPD's Frank Livoti, a PBA delegate, in 1994. WNYC reports Panataleo had made a career off of low-level, Broken Windows style arrests.

July 26th - Cops in East New York put a pregnant woman in a chokehold when they try arresting her after she questioned orders to move her BBQ from the front yard of her building to the back. Cops arrest her husband after he tries to intervene.

August 5th - After newspapers analyze disproportionate amount of Broken Windows policing in communities of color, Mayor de Blasio defends Bratton's cherished policing theory and credits it with driving down crime.

August 13th - Subway performers protest against the NYPD's Broken Windows crackdowns on performers, noting a 500% increase in arrests since Bratton and de Blasio have taken over.

August 29th - Two police officers in Bed-Stuy are caught on camera assaulting a man after a chase over alleged marijuana. One cop takes a swing at Kahreem Tribble and the other cop punches him with the tip of his gun, which is drawn on Tribble even as he has his hands raised.

September 9th - Days after Bratton testifies to the city council that the NYPD doesn't bother law abiding performers who don't break the rules, like the dancers outside of city hall, video shows cops ticketing the dancers outside of city hall.

September 12th - A city council aide is fired by council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito after he publicly disputed Bratton's use-of-force testimony to the city council. Artyom Matusov pointed out that the NYPD's self-reported data on use-of-force on Stop and Frisk, or 250 forms, exceeded Bratton's statistics that claimed force was used in only 3% of arrests and called the NYPD a "model of restraint".

September 14th - Cops from Sunset Park's 72nd precinct arrest and brutalize members of immigrant street vendor family after they won't clear their stands from a street fair fast enough. Jonathan Daza, a young Mexican father, is thrown to the ground and kicked in the back while several officers lay on top of him. Daza had come to the defense of his sister, telling her she didn't have to answer an officer's questions.

September 20th - Cops, once again from Sunset Park's 72nd precinct, slam a pregnant immigrant woman, Sandra Amezquita, belly-first on the ground after trying to arrest her teenage son. Amezquita has complications in her pregnancy and sues the city.

October 8th - Video emerges of an NYPD cop knocking out a teenager in Brooklyn over a cigarette. 17 year old Marcel Hamer is approached by plainclothes cops who think Hamer's cigarette has marijuana. A cop stands over Hamer and punches him in the face, leaving him unconscious.

October 18th - Cops arrest a subway performer for playing guitar in a Brooklyn train station. The performer points out that playing music is legal on train platforms. The cops read the MTA rulebook and arrest the performer anyway.

November 20th - Akai Gurley is shot and killed by NYPD officer Peter Liang. Liang shot Gurley while patrolling a Brooklyn public housing staircase, just like police officer Brian George shot and killed Nicholas Heyward Jr., 13, back in 1994 during the 1st Bratton era.


February 4th - Mayor de Blasio once again says that Broken Windows policing has made the city safer. He describes the theory that was linked to the chokehold death of Eric Garner "a living, breathing theory."

February 10th - Bratton lobbies state lawmakers to make resisting arrest a felony, up from a misdemeanor. Proposed bills are ultimately killed in Albany by Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron but the potential consequences are seen as a dangerous outcome for communities of color.

February 20th - Michael Julian, NYPD deputy commissioner of training and old Bratton pal from the 1990's, suggests spraying protesters with baby oil and cops using breath mints as part of reform proposals. Julian was working as the head of security in a mall in Australia when Bratton hired him back to the NYPD. Julian was also notorious for playing an aggressive role in the 1989 police crackdowns in the Lower East Side during the Tompkins Square riots.

March 13th - Computers traced back to NYPD headquarters are linked to edits made on the Wikipedia pages of police brutality cases like Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner. In edits made to the Garner page, the word "chokehold" was altered a few times and Garner's size description was added in, as if to justify the use of force.

April 10th - A veteran NYPD plainclothes detective, Ian Cyrus, is caught on video stealing $2,650 in cash from a Bed-Stuy bodega. Cyrus and other cops were there for a supposed cigarette raid.

April 22nd - De Blasio reiterates his support for Broken Windows as he avoids backing a mild decriminalization proposal from the city council on low-level offense. He says his vision is the same as that of Bratton.

May 27th - Michael Julian, now NYPD deputy commissioner of personnel, blows over $60,000 taxpayer dollars on a Zumba dance studio for cops that is never used.

June 1st - Reports come in that Bratton is using the New York Police Foundation, a non-profit that works closely with the NYPD to fund police programs (it funded the pilot body cam program, for instance), to push money and contracts to friends and collaborators.

June 10th - Bratton says the NYPD can't hire enough black cops because too many blacks have criminal records.

June 19th - A gay Staten Island man is beaten by cops in his front yard. Cops who said they were responding to a "noise complaint" assault 30 year old Louis Falcone, call him a "fag" and "faggot" and threaten to kill his dog. The assault is caught on camera.

July 3rd - A plainclothes cop in Harlem is shown on video challenging a man to a fistfight, throwing punches at the man as he attempts to leave.

July 7th - A Brooklyn cop is caught on camera sucker-punching a man in Bed-Stuy who allegedly had not paid for a slice of pizza. Thomas Jennings put his hands up as cops approached, only to have a cop immediately punch him in the mouth.

July 11th - A woman coming back from an AfroPunk concert is assaulted by an off-duty cop who called her a "fucking dyke" before other officers arrived to arrest her.

July 21st - Bratton announces that predictive policing is here, "get over it". The largely unknown policing program that Bratton ushered in to Los Angeles when he headed up the LAPD relies on computer algorithms to predict crime for police officers who are now all carrying around smartphones primarily funded by the Manhattan district attorney's office.

July 28th - Police officers arrest and punch an emotionally disturbed man inside a Target department store. Alando Brisset is held down by several police officers while shoppers shout at the cops.

August 11th - A police union representing the NYPD's sergeants begins publicly shaming the homeless with a Flickr account posting pictures of homeless people with captions like "disgusting". The union sends memos encouraging its members to take pictures of the city's poorest and most vulnerable.

September 1st - Bratton refers to decades old Moynihan report when discussing the problems of black America. Former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, famously pathologized the black family culture as being at the cause of the plight of black Americans. Moynihan's ideas have been controversial, to say the least.

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