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NYPD Response to George Floyd Protests Inflamed Tensions with Public: Report

Protesters on Queens Boulevard (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Dec. 18, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The NYPD used excessive force in responding to the George Floyd protests over the summer and further inflamed tensions with the public, according to a scathing new report.

The NYC Department of Investigation (DOI) released a report Friday detailing the NYPD’s response to the protests that were triggered by the brutal death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by members of the Minneapolis Police Dept.

The report said that police officers failed to de-escalate tensions with protesters and suppressed New Yorkers’ First Amendment rights.

“[The] NYPD’s use of force on protesters — encirclement (commonly called “kettling”), mass arrests, baton and pepper spray use, and other tactics — reflected a failure to calibrate an appropriate balance between valid public safety or officer safety interests and the rights of protesters to assemble and express their views,” the 115-page report states.

DOI also said officers often failed to determine who were “lawful, peaceful protesters and unlawful actors” when using force or making arrests.

The report further states the the NYPD deployed officers who lacked sufficient training on how to police protests and that training established after the protests focused on the same “disorder control methods” without a de-escalation component.

Furthermore, the NYPD failed to utilize its community affairs officers to better connect to protestors and ease tensions. DOI said current protest response training still lacks a community affairs aspect.

The report earned the praise of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

“I’m pleased the report confirms that the NYPD’s tactics were unnecessarily aggressive and I agree with its conclusion that the Department needs major structural change in the way it deals with protests,” Richards said.

“The ability to speak out against injustice is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment, and the NYPD has a duty to safeguard that right,” Richards added.

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