A resolution introduced by House Democrats — and supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and many other members of New York’s congressional delegation — links “broken windows” enforcement against low-level crimes with police brutality.
The broken windows policy, famously enforced by the NYPD, is credited by many with helping dramatically slash the crime rate in New York City from the 1990s to present. The theory is that going after the small offenses leads to reductions in serious crimes.
“Police brutality and the use of excessive and militarized force are among the most serious ongoing human rights and civil liberties violations in the United States and have led to community destabilization, a decrease in public safety, and the exacerbation of structural inequities,” reads the resolution, introduced by AOC’s fellow “Squad” member Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), as the nation has been rocked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
“The system of policing in America, and its systemic targeting of and use of deadly and brutal force against people of color, particularly Black people, stems from the long legacy of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws, and the War on Drugs in the United States and has been perpetuated by violent and harmful law enforcement practices,” it reads.
The resolution then continues, “Contemporary police practices that employ policing for low level offenses or so called ‘broken windows’ policing, as well as expanded and excessively militarized policing, has led to mass criminalization, heightened violence, and mass incarceration that disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people.”
Broken windows enforcement was championed by William Bratton, who served as police commissioner under two mayors — Republican Rudy Giuliani and Bill de Blasio, a left-leaning Democrat.
Pressley — part of the quartet of first-term leftist female House members who call themselves “The Squad” including Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — boasted that 135 Democrats signed on to the resolution.
New York City House members backing the resolution include Ocasio-Cortez, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velazquez, Jerrold Nadler, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng and Carolyn Maloney.
Also signing on were moderate Long Island House members Kathleen Rice, the former Nassau County District attorney, and Tom Suozzi.
But Rep. Peter King (R-Nassau) said it was wrong to lump in broken windows enforcement with police brutality.
“It was the broken windows policing that turned around New York City from having 2,000 murders a year to 300 murders. It saved lives — especially the lives of African Americans,” said King, who plans to oppose the resolution.
Critics complain that strict enforcement of low-level offenses — such as fare-beating, vandalism and pot possession — disproportionately impacts young blacks and Hispanics.
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