Billie Eilish, Rihanna, Ariana Grande and more urge New York police statute reform in open letter

The statute conceals police misconduct from the public

Billie Eilish, Rihanna and Ariana Grande are among hundreds of music industry personnel who have signed an open letter calling for New York state to repeal statue 50-A, a civil law that conceals police misconduct records from public scrutiny. The letter was shared yesterday (June 8) alongside an online petition, which can be found here.

The letter is addressed to New York State House and governor Andrew Cuomo, and follows the wake of protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.

“We mourn the killing of George Floyd and the unnecessary loss of so many black lives before his,” reads the letter.

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“We must hold accountable those who violate the oath to protect and serve, and find justice for those who are victim to their violence. An indispensable step is having access to disciplinary records of law enforcement officers. New York statute 50-A blocks that full transparency, shielding a history of police misconduct from public scrutiny, making it harder to seek justice and bring about reform. It must be repealed immediately.

“It is not enough to chip away at 50-A; this boulder in the path of justice has stood in the way for far too long and must be crushed entirely. It is not just a misreading of the statute; it is not just an inappropriate broadening of its scope. It is the statute itself, serving to block relevant crucial information in the search for accountability. We were pleased to hear the Governor’s statement that 50-A should not prohibit the release of disciplinary records.

“But, clearly, it is not enough. 50-A has been used far too often in the past and, without repeal, it will continue to be used to block justice. When the Legislature returns this week, we urge members to recognize the moment, take one loud, bold, and meaningful step in addressing this systemic problem, and swiftly repeal 50-A.”

Find the full letter with its entire list of signees here.

After almost a fortnight of protests, the city of Minneapolis has pledged to disband its police department, with the decision backed by a majority of city council members. Former officer Derek Chauvin has since been sacked and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three of his colleagues, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Keung are now all facing charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

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