Activists Monday rallied outdoors Metropolis Corridor to urge officers to shut down the controversial NYPD unit charged with responding to protests.
The group gathered on a chilly and wet morning after the Metropolis Council’s Public Security Committee postponed a listening to on the division’s Strategic Response Group for the second time. Greater than 100 members of the public had additionally signed up to communicate throughout the assembly, in accordance to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has been pushing for an oversight listening to for over a 12 months.
A number of officers mentioned the motive for the delay is numerous lawsuits pending in opposition to the NYPD for its response to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. A number of of these lawsuits are nonetheless unresolved, together with Lawyer Basic Letitia James’s swimsuit accusing the division of extreme pressure and two class-action fits introduced by NYCLU and the Authorized Help Society.
A Metropolis Council spokesperson mentioned the listening to will happen in March and won’t be delayed once more.
“If I’ve got to stand out here in the rain to pressure certain electeds to hold a hearing to disband the notorious, violent SRG, then that’s what I’m going to do,” mentioned Jon McFarlane with the advocacy group VOCAL-New York, flanked by about 40 folks on the steps of Metropolis Corridor.
The SRG launched as a counter-terrorism unit in 2015, however its tasks have grown over the years to embrace parades, shootings, financial institution robberies and “other significant incidents,” in accordance to the NYPD web site.
In newer months, the unit has sparked criticism for its remedy of counter-protesters outdoors an abortion clinic in SoHo and a library in Jackson Heights that hosts a “Drag Story Hour” occasion. Lawmakers are contemplating a invoice that would ban the unit from responding to nonviolent demonstrations.
“I think the public should have an opportunity to hear from people who have been brutalized, as well as hear from the NYPD why they think this is a justified unit,” Councilmember Sandy Nurse mentioned in an interview. She mentioned the SRG arrested her throughout a rally in Union Sq. in 2015.
Activists and progressive lawmakers have been asking for extra oversight — and even the dissolution — of the police unit for years. The NYCLU launched a marketing campaign to disband the group in 2021.
A police spokesperson referred questions to the metropolis’s authorized division, which declined to remark. However in an announcement to Gothamist final 12 months, the NYPD known as the unit a “critical asset” for the division.