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More Than 1,000 New York City Residents Claim to be Victims of Banned NYPD Chokeholds

The NYPD's use of chokeholds, like the one that recently killed Eric Garner, is increasing.
 
 
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According to the New York Daily News, numbers from the Civilian Complaint Review Board reveal that more than 1,000 New York City residents claimed to be victims of NYPD chokeholds in the past five years. The numbers were unveiled as the Board prepares to conduct a study of the allegations.

The Daily News wrote:

As of July 1, the CCRB had received 58 chokehold complaints against the NYPD this year, but had only substantiated one of them.

Out of the 1,022 chokehold allegations reported between 2009 and 2013, only 462 of the complaints were investigated. Out of that number, just nine were substantiated, according to the CCRB.

There wasn’t enough evidence to prove a chokehold was used in 206 of the cases investigated, officials said.

TheNew York Times reported that chokehold allegations in the city have increased from a decade ago, despite the fact that NYPD banned the use of the chokehold 20 years ago.

The city’s police commissioner, William J. Bratton, admitted that it appeared a chokehold had been used on Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six who died last Thursday. A video captured of the scene shows NYPD officers alleging that Garner was illegally selling cigarettes. Garner says he’s done nothing wrong, that he’s sick of police harassment and that such harassment “ends today.” Officers proceed to arrest him, while one throws his arm around Garner’s neck from behind. Garner says repeatedly that he can’t breathe before his body goes limp.

“It ends today” became the rallying cry for anti-police brutality protesters. Last weekend, Reverend Al Sharpton rallied more than 300 people to call for justice for Eric Garner. And on Wednesday, protestors held a candlelight vigil for Garner on the eve of his funeral and then marched to the precinct stationhouse where the involved officers were stationed.

Following Garner's death, Bratton announced that all 35,000 officers will undergo retraining while the department reviews its tactics. But a senior police official told the New York Times that one of those tactics they are thinking of increasing is the use of tasers—a practice that has been fatal in the past and is dangerous for people with heart problems.

Perhaps even more egregious is the attitude some cops have taken toward the case. As PolicyMic reported, a look at police officer forums reveals some officers’ defending the NYPD’s handling of Garner. “Harsh words from public figures are good on paper, but they will become meaningless if the attitudes of these police officers don't change,” the author of the piece wrote.

This culture of violence is the outcome of the “broken windows” policing Bratton helped introduce and popularize, says Nick Malinowski, member of New Yorkers Against Bratton, an ad hoc group of parents who have lost children to police violence, activists, social workers, etc., formed after NYC Mayor DeBlasio announced he would bring back Bratton as NYPD Commissioner.

New Yorkers Against Bratton held a press conference outside city hall Monday, demanding that Bratton resign after Garner’s death, and to “move away from this idea that the police officers involved — this was just a bad cop sort of a thing” and understand it as a systemic issue, Malinowski told AlterNet .

Malinowski said the group also demands a federal investigation into NYPD’s culture of brutality, especially as the city’s promises of investigations, reviews and retraining often amount to empty rhetoric.

“Bratton, when he first came in, said that they were doing a unit by unit review of every aspect of the NYPD and they had this new guy they brought in to do the training,” Malinowski said. “Somehow they didn’t uncover all these issues and have to do another review of the department. So I don’t quite understand.… You would think that use of force, which has been an issue with the NYPD forever, would have been something they identified as a problem in a training initiative in the first review of the department.”