The open letter calls the 1976 statute 50-A into question, it directly affects New York police officers.
According to Rolling Stone, the letter was published on Monday alongside a petition. Other notable acts that signed the letter included Nas, Migos, Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, and Ariana Grande. The letter follows the death of George Floyd and will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We mourn the killing of George Floyd and the unnecessary loss of so many black lives before his,” the letter reads. “We must hold accountable those who violate the oath to protect and serve, and find justice for those who are victim to their violence. An indispensable step is having access to disciplinary records of law enforcement officers. New York statute 50-A blocks that full transparency, shielding a history of police misconduct from public scrutiny, making it harder to seek justice and bring about reform. It must be repealed immediately.”
After Floyd’s death at the hands of four police officers including Derek Chauvin, public records showed Chauvin received 18 public complaints. The discipline he received following two included letters of reprimand. Arrest data collected by law enforcement agencies is readily available to the public in Minnesota.
In 2014 the New York Police Department used statute 50-A following Eric Garner’s chokehold death at the hands of officer Daniel Pantaleo. A ThinkProgress report released in 2017 found Pantaleo had 14 individual allegations and seven disciplinary complaints.
The celebrity-approved petition is timely as Andrew Cuomo has reportedly called for police reform. Yesterday, Cuomo urged lawmakers to pass a bill that makes it a hate crime to falsely call 911 based on race, gender or religion, according to the New York Post. This directly follows Amy Cooper’s police call and her exchange with bird-watcher Christian Cooper. An additional measure could impose stricter penalties on law enforcement for using chokeholds.
Statute 50-A passed in 1976, per The Nation it was created to keep officers disciplinary records “confidential and not subject to inspection or review” without permission of the officer. The original reasoning behind the statute was so defense attorneys couldn’t harass officers in court or badger them with “unsubstantiated” prior offenses.
Take a look at a few celebrities standing with music industry professionals who signed the open letter.
Please help #Repeal50A, a New York law that shields police wrongdoing by hiding records of misconduct, complaints, and abuse. Help end the violence by taking action now: https://t.co/d9r0X4HMyO @NYGovCuomo @AndreaSCousins @CarlHeastie pic.twitter.com/xVP33NMHLU
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) June 8, 2020
.@NYGovCuomo @AndreaSCousins @CarlHeastie New York needs your help! I am asking that you repeal 50-A. We must hold accountable those who violate the oath to protect and serve, and find justice for those who are victim to their violence. #Repeal50A
— Eric Andre (@ericandre) June 8, 2020
new yorkers ! please support the repeal of 50 A, a new york law that blocks crucial information in the search for law enforcement accountability: https://t.co/hMm9nQPEq7 🖤 #repeal50a @nygovcuomo @andreascousins @carlheastie
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) June 8, 2020
On Monday, June 8, the New York State Assembly passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, reports CBS. It passed both houses of the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo will reportedly sign the act into law.
This article was published on June 9, it was updated the same day.
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.