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STATEMENT FROM LISA SCHREIBERSDORF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES, ON THE GUILTY VERDICT OF DEREK CHAUVIN

“We fervently hope that the conviction this week of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, has brought some relief to George Floyd’s loved ones and people around the country who needed to see that it’s possible for a murdering police officer to be charged and found guilty.

We understand acutely that the conviction of a single police officer does not address the pervasive corrupt, racist, dehumanizing systems of policing that allowed for the killing of George Floyd to happen in the first place.  We must, as a national imperative, institute real changes that will protect all people from an unchecked police force that terrorizes our communities, specifically communities of color.

Right here in NYC, the NYPD continues to employ officers who have committed countless acts of violence, ranging from traumatizing young people by taunting them, knocking down people’s doors and destroying their homes, employing negligent investigation practices that trample on peoples’ rights, overcharging people so they are forced to go to jail for minor infractions, to targeting and surveilling communities of color with theories that result in mass incarceration, separation of families through foster care, ICE enforcement, torture in jail and prisons, failing to provide needed health care to someone in custody and thousands of other symptoms of a system that is set up to ensure the systemic dehumanization of Black and Brown people. This calculated system built on white supremacy and anti-Black racism sets up a culture where violence by enforcement agents is inevitable. 

The police and other enforcement agencies, including prosecutors, are tied together in cultural values that allow and support each of these acts every day, by teaching officers to lie so they can get away with wrongful acts, to trying to hide information from the public, the disempowerment of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and affirmative violation of standards by the Department of Correction. Prosecutors play their part by declining to prosecute police for serious offenses and rarely holding officers accountable for perjured testimony, illegal searches and seizures, shoddy police work and improper treatment of individuals in their custody.  

As defenders who represent people arrested within these structurally racist systems, we advocate for policy and legislative change to dismantle the application of unfair procedures and harsh outcomes for individuals. As we at BDS continue to do our part  to fight for a just future, we call upon our leaders to dramatically  reduce governments’  reliance on policing and invest the public’s resources into people, families and communities.”