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Helping New Yorkers stand up against police misconduct: Part I

As the holidays approach, many New Yorkers are taking to the streets. But they are not going out to buy Christmas presents or to look at the spectacular holiday displays. They are taking to the streets to protest police brutality.

The killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and here in New York have reignited the issue of racism in the criminal justice system. We say “reignited” because the tensions between law enforcement and communities of color have always been an issue in the United States. The acquittal of the two officers responsible for the killings has confirmed for many Americans that police misconduct involving minority suspects seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

Earlier this year, ProPublica released the results of an investigation into the frequency of fatal police shootings. The Propublica report found that compared to white suspects, young black males were 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police officers.

Sometimes police shootings are necessary to protect officers or others at a crime scene from violence perpetrated by the suspect. But in many of the individual cases studied, suspects were simply trying to flee police. Moreover, a significant number of police shooting reports list “undetermined” circumstances. No justification or explanation is given.

As we mentioned above, officers involved in suspicious killings rarely face criminal charges. But there are other avenues to justice, including a civil lawsuit. Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion about police misconduct and civil rights violations.

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