New York State Legislature Votes To Repeal 50-A “Police Shield” Law

Rihanna, Meek Mill, Megan Thee Stallion, and other musicians called on Governor Cuomo to back the change in the statute.

(AllHipHop News) Police reform activists, #BlackLivesMatter protestors, and many recording artists advocated for New York politicians to rescind section 50-A of the state’s Civil Rights Law. 50-A has shielded police disciplinary records from public viewing for 44 years.

Weeks of demonstrations in the streets and the entertainment industry’s call to action helped pressure both houses of the New York State Legislature to repeal 50-A after bills stalled in the body for years. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign the legislation.

“The Legislature just voted to repeal 50-A and I will sign it into law this week. The countless voices for reform united and were heard. NOW is the moment for real change,” read a tweet from Governor Cuomo’s verified Twitter account.

Public demands for more accountability from police departments have spiked in recent weeks. The on-camera murder of George Floyd by now-charged Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin and the countless viral videos showing unnecessary aggression towards peaceful protestors by law enforcement ignited international outrage.

Buffalo, New York police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were recently charged with second-degree assault following the two cops being seen shoving Martin Gugino to the ground and causing the 75-year-old man to suffer serious head trauma. Like with the George case in Minneapolis, the initial BPD police report concerning Gugino contained outright lies about the incident.

A statement from the Buffalo Police Department last Thursday claimed a person “was injured when he tripped and fell” even though a video clearly shows Gugino was purposely pushed by the cops. The initial Minneapolis statement about George Floyd’s death did not even mention that Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes even after the 46-year-old man was visibly unconscious. 

“I can’t breathe” were some of Floyd’s last words before passing away because of the conduct of Chauvin as well as the three other officers at the scene – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. “I can’t breathe” was also among the final words of Eric Garner who was killed by New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in 2014. 

According to reports, New York’s 50-A statute is the reason the public was not able to learn about Pantaleo’s long history of misconduct before choking Garner on a sidewalk in Staten Island. Leaked documents later revealed that Pantaleo had at least seven complaints filed against him with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Police unions, representing over 200,000 New York officers, vehemently opposed the repeal of section 50-A. General Counsel’s Office of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York suggested the law change was an “attack on law enforcement.”