MANHATTAN (CN) — Bill Bratton will tender his resignation Tuesday as commissioner of the New York City Police Department, officials say. The unexpected exit comes after hundreds rallied outside New York City Hall for the start of what has been billed as an Occupy-style protest against “racist police brutality.”
Calling itself Millions March NYC, the group behind Monday’s so-called occupation of the south end of City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan lists its No. 1 demand as Bratton’s firing.
The city is expected to announce Bratton’s resignation at noon today.
Bratton has since the 1990s touted a crime-fighting strategy called “broken windows,” but this style of policing is another point of contention for Millions March.
Championed by sociologists George Kelling and James Q. Wilson, the “broken windows” theory holds that clamping down on petty misdemeanors like graffiti, marijuana and public urination prevents more serious crimes.
Though New York City experienced a dramatic drop in crime during the early years of this strategy under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, sociologists have long questioned whether Broken Windows deserved the credit. Crime rates plummeted across the United States during the same years, even in cities like San Diego, Washington, St. Louis and Houston that never adopted Bratton’s methods.
Bratton had been police commissioner under the Republican Giuliani and came to office again in 2014 upon the election of Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio. He served as the Los Angeles police chief and the Boston police commissioner, as well.
Millions March is also demanding financial reparations “for all survivors and victims of racist police brutality.”
The group’s third and final demand is to defund the NYPD’s $5.5 billion budget and reallocate such funds “into black and brown communities.”
Just a short walk up Broadway from Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street began in 2011, several hundred gathered to champion these ideals with a feisty array of chants and posters.
“I Smell Racists, NYPD,” yelled some.
Others chanted: “NYPD, KKK, How many kids have you killed today?”
A more syncopated refrain echoed: “Back up, back up, we want freedom, freedom! All these racist-ass cops? We don’t need ’em, need ’em!”
Millions March NYC described itself as a multiracial grassroots collective of organizers “facing off w/largest paramilitary police force in Amerikkka” [sic].
Orientation literature for the group calls the NYPD “racist, sexist, anti-queer,” and “an occupying army that relentlessly targets, harasses, brutalizes, and murders black and brown people with impunity.”
Many of the protesters used their chants and posters to invoke names like Sandra Bland, Philando Castile and Akai Gurley — black men and women whose deaths at police hands over the years are at the heart of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Despite its name, Millions March NYC had just over a thousand people RSVP about their plans to attend the start of the City Hall Occupation on Monday.
The hashtag #SHUTDOWNCITYHALLNYC proved more popular, trending with more than 14,000 tweets as of 11 p.m.
At the protest, one prevalent sign declared: “Liberate New York City. Abolish the Police.”
The need for reform is a critical element of Millions March NYC’s literature, which emphasizes that the group “will not be fooled or derailed by fake reforms like body cameras and so-called community policing, which further increase the budget and power of the racist and brutal NYPD.”
The omnipresent “No Justice, No Peace” protest slogan was often followed by the less-polite chant “Fuck the Police!”
Despite the fairly confrontational message, Monday’s protest proved peaceful with no arrests.
Police surrounded the perimeter of the park and around other civil buildings in the immediate area with metal barricades earlier in the day.
NYPD vehicles lined the streets, while empty Department of Corrections buses waited one block west on Church Street.
Officers patrolled the perimeter each carried dozens of plastic zip-ties — used instead of handcuffs during mass arrests — as the protest reached the park’s midnight curfew.
The NYPD’s first arrest warning, just after 11 p.m., prompted protesters to relocate, without arrests or injuries, to the privately owned West Plaza, a nearby public space that is open 24 hours.
As the protestors avoided the NYPD’s zipties, their optimistic chant evoked the words of rapper Kendrick Lamar, “We gon be alright, We gon be alright.”
Millions March NYC has vowed “absolutely no cooperation with or involvement of NYPD” and “no closed-door discussions with politicians regarding #ShutdownCityHallNYC.”
The group had plans to resume the occupation when City Hall Park reopened for the public Tuesday morning at 6.
NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure published an 84-page report in June that exposed cracks in broken-windows policing.
“OIG-NYPD’s analysis has found no empirical evidence demonstrating a clear and direct link between an increase in summons and misdemeanor arrest activity and a related drop in felony crime,” the report states. “Between 2010 and 2015, quality-of-life enforcement rates — and in particular, quality-of-life summons rates — have dramatically declined, but there has been no commensurate increase in felony crime.” (Emphasis in original)
Bernard Harcourt challenged the broken-windows theory in his groundbreaking 2001 book, “Illusion of Order.”
Now a Columbia University law professor, Harcourt argued 15 years ago that the theory had never been empirically verified and relies on unexamined categories of “law abiders” and “disorderly people.”
Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson helped demonstrate three years later how a police officer’s “implicit bias” — often racial — could determine who gets lumped among the orderly citizens and the scofflaws.
Before he was killed two years ago in an NYPD officer’s fatal chokehold, Eric Garner had been stopped for selling loose cigarettes, a classic quality-of-life offense.
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