A call to repeal the 50-A legislation, which safeguarded police officers from being held accountable for brutality, will be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after it was passed by lawmakers on Tuesday.
The 50-A legislation was first passed in the 1970s, but conversations about its validity resurfaced in response to the murder of Eric Garner in 2014 at the hands of a police officer. The new bill includes the banning of police chokeholds and requires police activity to be recorded to shine a light on deaths in custody.
Over the last week, the repeal of 50-A gained traction when artists including Rihanna, Ariana Grande, the Jonas Brothers and Miguel called for the legislation to be repealed in an open letter to leaders in New York urging for the repeal.
“It is not enough to chip away at 50-A; this boulder in the path of justice has stood in the way for far too long and must be crushed entirely,” the letter states. “It is not just a misreading of the statute; it is not just an inappropriate broadening of its scope. It is the statute itself, serving to block relevant crucial information in the search for accountability.”
In a press briefing on Wednesday led by Cuomo, he addressed the repeal of 50-A, saying that New York is leading the way towards police reform.
“There’s a moment for change and we’re going to pass legislation this week that I’m going to sign that is going to lead the nation in police reform, releasing disciplinary records, what they call 50-A, banning chokeholds, which should have been done a long time ago,” Cuomo said. “That will be in the State law, having the Attorney General as a special prosecutor if there’s a question about killing by police where they’re killing an unarmed person. [This is] the most dramatic police reform in the country and it will happen in New York.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, during his daily press briefing on Wednesday, brought Black activists onstage and addressed the repeal saying “a lot of building blocks came together to make that happen.”
“You’re going to see more transparency in police discipline, you’re going to see faster police discipline, people will know it and feel it,” de Blasio said. “That’s the standard I have to hold myself and the NYPD to, and that’s what we’ll do.”
On Monday, Cuomo tweeted in praise of the Jonas Brothers, Mariah Carey and Grande for standing up to repeal the legislation. “NY will lead the way,” he wrote.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 8, 2020
Grande backed #Repeal50A, a hashtag that has been gaining momentum on Twitter, saying “please support the repeal of 50 A, a new york law that blocks crucial information in the seatch [sic] for law enforcement accountability.”
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
The Jonas Brothers also took to social media, writing, “Take action now to end the violence and hold bad cops accountable.”
50-a protects criminal cops from being exposed in New York. This has to end.
— Jonas Brothers (@jonasbrothers) June 8, 2020
Carey said, “Help end violence by taking action now,” adding a link to email lawmakers, tweet at them, and download #Repeal50A images.
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
Thomas Wesley, better known to the public as Diplo, tweeted “we did it 50-a has been repealed in new york !!!”
we did it 50-a has been repealed in new york !!! https://t.co/YXU59IIEXW
— Thomas Wesley (@diplo) June 10, 2020