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Demonstrations were held in numerous cities including New York, following the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man accused of passing a fake $20 note, by a police officer in May 2020.
New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) has condemned the NYPD’s aggressive response to the protests, during which officers were recorded using violence to control peaceful crowds.
Police were filmed beating and roughhousing protesters, some of whom said they were left with bruises, scrapes, fractures and nerve damage, reports the Washington Post.
Hundreds of misconduct allegations were investigated by the board after the protests, which included improper use of force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and making untruthful statements. Complaints against 65 officers were substantiated by the board.
Mr Floyd died after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, in a murder that was captured on camera by bystanders. The shocking footage sparked racial justice protests nationwide and across the world.
“After fully investigating over a hundred cases, the CCRB continues its commitment to investigating, and when necessary, prosecuting the officers responsible for committing misconduct against New Yorkers during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests,” CCRB chair Fred Davie said in a statement to press.
The board recommended serving charges, which is the most serious type of discipline against 37 officers. If found guilty, they could be fired, suspended or lose vacation time. The other 28 officers were accused of less serious misconduct but could still lose vacation days or have to participate in mandatory training.
Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of New York City, defended officers, telling The Washington Post they were sent into the crowd “with no plan, no strategy and no support.”
“As a result, dozens of cops were injured, and now dozens more are being made into scapegoats,” he said in an emailed statement. “It’s time for the NYPD to stop allowing CCRB to use its disciplinary process as a political tool.”