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Families Of People Killed By The NYPD Rally For Police Reforms At City Hall

A photo of protesters at City Hall on June 9th, 2020

Protesters at City Hall on June 9th, 2020

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Protesters at City Hall on June 9th, 2020
Sydney Pereira/Gothamist

8:45 p.m. The marchers who walked over the Brooklyn Bridge with Jumaane Williams earlier today met up with another group at City Hall for a rally with the families of people killed by police. Over a thousand people gathered in the early evening with nearly 20 family members of NYers killed by police between 1973 and 2019—including Eric Garner's mother Gwen Carr, Ramarley Graham's mother Constance Malcolm, Kimani Gray's mother Carol Gray, Amadou Diallo's mother Kadiatou Diallo, and more—to call for significant cuts to the NYPD.

Those speakers included Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell, who was killed by NYPD in 2006. "Everybody knows about the 50 shots...I don't like talking about that," she said. "But in order to talk about it, we have to make changes. I woke up this morning at 4:56 a.m., that's the time my son died. He woke me up knowing I was going to come out here today. He woke me up saying, 'Mom, you've got this.' That was his favorite saying."

"We say 'Black Lives Matter' because they're killing us all for no reason. It's been happening for 400 years or more. I'm sick and tired of it," she continued. "Fight for what is right. We're sick and tired of what is being done to our people. Every time I hear about a killing, it just opens up my wound again."

A photo of the families of people killed by the NYPD leading a march through lower Manhattan on June 9th, 2020

Family members of people killed by the NYPD leading a march through lower Manhattan on June 9th, 2020

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Family members of people killed by the NYPD leading a march through lower Manhattan on June 9th, 2020
Sydney Pereira/Gothamist

"We are sick and tired of decades of systemic racism and injustice," said Natasha Duncan, the sister of Shantel Davis, who was killed by a police officer during a stop in Brooklyn in 2012. "We are here in solidarity with George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and all the families who have lost a loved one to police brutality."

You can watch a few speeches from the event below:

After the families spoke, they led the marchers through lower Manhattan. That included them walking by the Manhattan Detention Complex, chanting, “free them all” & “you are not alone."

You can check out a few more photos and videos from the march below.

Kalief Browder's Brother Speaks At Black Lives Matter Vigil In The Bronx

7:30 p.m. A few hundred people turned out in the late afternoon to Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx for a peaceful Black Lives Matter/George Floyd remembrance vigil. Ed Clarke, a father of two who is in an interracial marriage, was one of the speakers, and he said that protesting right now is especially important so that there's "not another vigil" in the future. "We're in the beginning stages of a movement," he said.

Among those in attendance included Akeem Browder, the brother of Kalief Browder, the young man who committed suicide after spending three of his late teen years imprisoned on Rikers Island waiting to be tried for a petty robbery charge that was ultimately dismissed. Browder noted that June 6th marked the fifth anniversary of his brother's death.

A photo of Akeem Browder at a Black Lives Matter vigil in The Bronx on June 9th, 2020

Akeem Browder at a Black Lives Matter vigil in The Bronx on June 9th, 2020

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Akeem Browder at a Black Lives Matter vigil in The Bronx on June 9th, 2020
David Cruz/Gothamist

Browder had just come back from Albany, where he was advocating to ensure the 50-A repeal was passed. He called it a good first step, but said he wanted even greater accountability, especially when cops are in trouble—he doesn't just want a cop fired, but to go to prison. "If you gave us no justice, expect no peace," he said, who added that marches are not sustainable for the long run. "We have to move toward progression and next steps."

Another attendee, Olusegun Williams, agreed about the need to repeal 50-A: "They have skeletons in their closet," the 27-year-old said. He noted that he wants reallocation of the police budget toward after school programs and internships.

A photo of Olusegun Williams at the Black Lives Matter vigil in The Bronx on June 9th, 2020

Olusegun Williams at the Black Lives Matter vigil in The Bronx on June 9th, 2020

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Olusegun Williams at the Black Lives Matter vigil in The Bronx on June 9th, 2020
David Cruz/Gothamist

Janelly Mercado, one of the organizers of the vigil, said that a true measure of change will be removing the "privilege" that officers feel when they don the uniform and break the laws they're sworn to protect. Her group, Bronx Justice Collective, ended the vigil with an eight-minute moment of silence corresponding with the number of minutes Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against George Floyd's neck.

Cops Back Down & Allow Over A Thousand Marchers To Walk Brooklyn Bridge Roadway

6 p.m. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams hosted a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall this afternoon, which culminated in over a thousand people marching across the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the ongoing Black Lives Matter marches. In between speakers at the rally, people celebrated the arrest of Vincent D'Andraia, who was seen on video shoving a female protester seemingly without provocation, and the repeal of 50-A.

But just as they were about to reach the bridge, police lined up to stop people from crossing. After some discussion, Williams was able to convince the cops to let them cross on the actual roadway. "It felt almost like a victory lap," noted reporter JB Nicholas.

Marchers took a knee on the bridge in honor of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor:

You can get a bird's-eye view of the bridge march below, and check out photos from that march in the gallery up above.

Police Union Chief Says Officer Not To Blame For Assaulting Protester

Pat Lynch, the head of the Policemen's Benevolent Association, holds a press conference to attack police reforms.

Pat Lynch, the head of the Police Benevolent Association, holds a press conference to attack police reforms.

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Pat Lynch, the head of the Police Benevolent Association, holds a press conference to attack police reforms.
Gwynne Hogan / WNYC

2:30 p.m. Pat Lynch, the head of the police New York City Police Benevolent Association, pushed back on Tuesday against nearly two weeks of mass street mobilizations calling for a defunding of the NYPD, an end to police brutality and a host of other reforms.

He began by decrying the assault charges filed against Officer Vincent D'Andraia Tuesday by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Cellphone video from a demonstration against police violence on May 29th near Barclays Center showed the officer violently shoving a protester to the ground, where she subsequently smacked her head on the curb and had a seizure.

“Who the DA did prosecute was a police officer whose boss sent him out there, to do a job, was put in a bad situation during a chaotic time,” Lynch said during a press conference on Randall's Island. “Bring the facts in, give us our day."

He said he was angered by not being brought into current conversations about the repeal of the state's 50-a law that shields police disciplinary public records from view or other police reforms on the city level, though police unions in New York have resisted those reforms for years. 

Lynch declined to give specifics when asked what reforms the union would support. 

“We in this police department have been reformed time and time again and that’s being ignored,” he said. “The problem is we want to come to the table, we haven’t been invited to the table.”

As he ended his speech, Lynch turned to address a gathering of around one hundred NYPD, correction officers and other law enforcement officials, flanking him. 

“Never ever apologize for being a New York City police officer,” he said, and went on to reference the “thin blue line,” the controversial symbol, often used by law enforcement but often criticized as a symbol of white supremacy. 

“That blue line in the flag, that blue line on the sticker on the back of our cars, that’s not just a slogan it’s not just a line, that’s you,” he said.

Another officer, Mike O'Meara, said he believes the press is "vilifying" the police, among other things.

De Blasio Pledges Support For Four City Council Bills On Police Reform

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he would support and sign four pieces of City Council legislation involving police reform set to be voted on next week.

"The only change is the change that can happen now. Deeds, not words," de Blasio said at a press briefing at City Hall.

New York City is now on the 13th day of protests over police violence. The demonstrations have spurred local governments across the country to consider new legislation that would abolish violent tactics like chokeholds to allowing for the public disclosure of police officer records.

On June 18, the City Council is slated to vote on four bills: placing a ban on chokeholds; affirming the right of an individual to record their conversation with the NYPD; requiring police officers to make visible their shield number and rank designation while in uniform; forcing the NYPD to track and evaluate officers so as to identify ones that may be in need of enhanced training, monitoring, or reassignment.

The New York state legislature is also currently in the process of passing police reform legislation, including a ban on chokeholds as well as the repeal of 50-a, a law that allows police to keep their officers' records secret. Governor Andrew Cuomo said he expected the bills to pass this week and said he would sign them immediately.

Criticized for his handling of the protests, de Blasio, a lame duck mayor, has promised to bring about reform. He has pledged for the first time to cut funding from the NYPD's annual $6 billion budget and reallocate the money to youth programs. On Tuesday, he invited several activists of the Black Lives Movement to appear with him at his press conference.

In a proposal that is likely to be viewed more cynically, de Blasio said that he planned to name streets in each borough in honor of the Black Lives Movement. (Studies have shown that of the roughly 900 streets named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the wake of his assassination, most tend to be poorer and more racially segregated.) He also said that the city would paint protest slogans on street pavements, similar to what activists have done in Washington D.C.

"We are going to relentlessly change this city and this police department over the next 18 months," he said.

Here's a running list of protests scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th:

BROOKLYN

12 p.m.: Children's March at Barclays Center

2 p.m.: Jumaane Williams Rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall

7 p.m.: McCarren Park

MANHATTAN

4 p.m.: Washington Square Park

5 p.m.: Families March at City Hall

7 p.m.: Vigil at Carl Schurz Park with ASL interpretation

QUEENS
6 p.m.: East Elmhurst Playground

6:30 p.m.: Juniper Valley Park

BRONX
4:30 p.m.: Vigil at Pelham Bay Park

Compiled by Annie Todd