State, Local Officials Call for Comprehensive Police Reform

Legislators want to repeal section 50-a of the civil rights law

Brendan Keany
June 04, 2020 - 10:23 pm
Niagara Square Police Reform

[WBEN Photo - Brendan Keany]

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BUFFALO (WBEN) - Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes was joined by several city, county and state leaders Thursday afternoon in Niagara Square as part of a statewide call for comprehensive police reform.

While there are numerous legislative issues officials want to attend to, one of the focal points of Thursday's rally is the goal to repeal section 50-a of the civil rights law, which would make disciplinary records of police officers available to the public.

"There's one thing we stand on getting done right away, preferably Monday, and that would be to repeal section 50-a," said Peoples-Stokes.

"A half-century ago, segregation was repealed, yet disparities in how services are delivered, frankly, throughout government, but more importantly today, throughout law enforcement, has been very disparit," she continued. "We're asking simply for equal justice under the law - it's real simple - equal justice under the law."

"If you are ready for standing together to lead to something that is actually going to make a difference in the lives of the young people that live in your community of your black brothers and sisters of the people of color that have been suffering for far too long at the hands of police officers that are not doing what they swore an oath to do, hold your hands high," said Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin. "Repeal 50-a Monday and let that trickle down to our councilmembers proactively activating change, to the legislature where I stand activating change - let what the state legislature is doing trickle down to home here in Buffalo."

"The reason that brings us here is the death of George Floyd and everything that happened," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "We wish that George Floyd was alive today. but because he isn't, we need to ensure he did not die in vain. We need to ensure that there are the proper mechanisms put in place to ensure that police brutality is something that no longer exists."

"I'm afraid because I've got two brown boys that live in my house, 10 years old and 12 years old, that I can't watch every day," said Buffalo Council President Darius Pridgen. "I want those who are sworn to serve and protect to serve and protect them also.

"I'm afraid not to be here today," Pridgen continued. "I have no choice because the one thing I can't change is the color of their skin. I cannot change and make them anything other than what they are. So yeah, I'm afraid - I'm afraid to be silent."

Listen to the full press conference below:

Later on, Mayor Byron Brown told reporters that he is banning choke holds. Choke holds are not taught by the Buffalo Police Department, but the use of force manual did not explicitly ban them.

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