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UPDATE ON: The Open Letter regarding the maltreatment of journalists in NYC

On March 17, 2021, RaisetheVoices met with New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) after they responded to our “OPEN LETTER: Re: The maltreatment of journalists at the hands of the NYPD.” We met with Yojaira Alvarez, Acting Senior Advisor to the Executive Director & Director of Outreach and Intergovernmental Affairs, who was keen on developing ways RaisetheVoices and the CCRB could be connected. Below are notes taken from the meeting, where our Open Letter, existing NYC laws, and ideas for future collaboration were discussed.

Background given to the Director about RaisetheVoices: 

  • Who we are at RaisetheVoices: We are an international non-profit. A lot of our work has centered around police killings nationwide, especially since the summer (2020) 
  • As an organization, RaisetheVoices likes to reopen cases if they haven’t been investigated properly or haven’t been investigated at all
  • The Director was filled in about how I (Nyla) carried out my project and research specific to NYC: First, researching cases and organizing them into a spreadsheet. Then, researching what laws, if any, exist in NYC to protect journalists. Finally, publishing an Open Letter addressed to various NYC officials and offices, including the CCRB, calling for an investigation to be opened

Director Alvarez informed us of recent tools, as well as recent laws, that members of RaisetheVoices and civilians of NYC should be aware of: 

  • The Member Service Database – contains extensive information on existing service members (in the NYPD)
  • New York’s section 50-a law – a restrictive piece of legislation which was finally repealed, meaning we can now look up allegations against service members (the law protected them heavily)

Updates on the cases and opened investigations: 

  • Already have several of the cases listed in our NYC spreadsheet open, some of which were generated just yesterday (March 16th)
  • 2 cases were referred to Internal Affairs because of Statute of limitations (18 months from start of incident but there is a crime exception. These 2 cases didn’t meet that exception) 
  • 1 case was a duplicate 
  • Major thing the Director wanted to make clear: the CCRB investigates police misconduct and she is interested in sharing information about their department with journalists – ANY on assignment in NY.
  • The Right to Know Act 2018 – Not a lot of people know about it; it changes how police should interact with civilians. Police have to proactively provide civilians with their business card. If they don’t do it – the CCRB would investigate. At any point during the interaction the journalist can ask for one. Other major component of the law is about searches – police have to proactively ask to search you
  • Final arbiter of discipline is still the NYPD Commissioner because of State Law. This may change soon as it is being disputed in Court; may move to the CCRB’s jurisdiction 
  • The above laws are helpful and useful information for folks in this space
  • Any opportunities for the CCRB to host a virtual presentation on any of this would be great and the Director would love to collaborate. She’ll be sending links/contacts to us 

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