Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking New York lawmakers to consider the “Say Their Name” reform agenda following the murder of George Floyd and what he called an ongoing pattern of police brutality against minority communities across the nation.
“The ‘Say Their Name’ reform agenda comes from the long list of names of people we have seen who have been abused by police officers, by the criminal justice system, and Mr. Floyd is just the last name on a very long list,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing on Friday. “Enough is enough.”
On what is day 12 of the national civil unrest in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, the governor said he will work with the state Legislature that reconvenes next week on four “cornerstones.”
“The first is transparency of prior disciplinary records of a police officer,” Cuomo said. “If they are being charged and investigated for abuse, their prior disciplinary record is relevant.” The change will require reforming 50-a of the Civil Rights Law.
Secondly, the governor is calling for the ban the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers. “We went through this with Eric Garner,” he said. In 2014, the 43-year-old died after an NYPD officer wrapped his arm around his neck from behind on Staten Island.
Cuomo also wants to prohibit false, race-based 911 calls. “A false 911 call based on race should be classified as a hate crime in the State of New York,” he said.
Lastly, he wants the attorney general designated as an independent prosecutor for all matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of law enforcement officers. Five years ago, Cuomo put the attorney general in charge of such investigations through an executive order. “That should be codified in law,” he said.
The reform agenda works for everyone’s interest, according to the governor. “Stopping police abuse vindicates the overwhelming majority — the 99.9 percent — of police who are there to do the right thing. It restores the confidence, the respect, and the trust that you need to make this relationship work. You have to heal the police-community relationship for the sake of the police and for the sake of the community.”