To the Editor:After several months of tireless organizing from families of New Yorkers who have been killed by police, Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order establishing a special prosecutor for all police killings and deaths in custody. We are inspired by the leadership and hard work of the families, whose dedication and commitment is a true display of people power. Their unwavering stand for justice is a reminder that through solidarity we can win and implement the necessary safeguards to help ensure justice for all those killed by the NYPD's discriminatory and violent policing.
We are at a historic moment. The fight for special prosecutor dates back to 1949 when families, community members, and the Brooklyn NAACP advocated for independent oversight after the murders of two Black men, George Waddle and Herman Newton. For over 60 years, New Yorkers have fought not only for greater police accountability in order to protect their loved ones but also to assert that Black lives do in fact matter.
Governor Cuomo’s appointing of a special prosecutor is a huge step forward toward protecting the lives of Black and brown New Yorkers and establishing greater accountability mechanisms for police officers. It is positive that this executive order does not have a pre-determined time limit, and that its coverage is beyond just those reported by police as "unarmed."
For far too long, black and brown New Yorkers have suffered the fatal consequences that come with discriminatory policing and excessive police violence. Too many families have felt the heart wrenching pain of losing a loved ones to brutal police violence. We remain committed in our support to the families and local leadership in their fight to secure a safe and just state for all New Yorkers.
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director
ColorOfChange.orgColorOfChange is an online civil rights group with 1 million members.