A subtle change in New York State law could stop #BlackLivesMatter in its tracks.
On Sunday, The New York Postand NY1 reported that the NYPD’s push to make resisting arrest a felony had officially been introduced as a bill before the New York State senate. After both Commissioner Brattonand NYPDpolice union simultaneously trial-ballooned a similar law change a few weeks ago, the plan to make “aggravated” resisting arrest a felony is officially moving forward after State Senator Tony Avella proposed Bill S04260, that would render anyone who “resisted arrest” more than twice in a ten year span a felon. As the Post spelled out:
Resisting arrest will lead to harsher penalties under legislation proposed by a Queens Democrat. State Sen. Tony Avella is behind a bill that would create a felony charge — “aggravated resisting arrest” — for people who have been convicted of resisting arrest twice in a 10-year period.
The justification for the new measures, in typical NYPD victim-blaming spin, is being presented a a way of preventing future Eric Garners:
The legislation is in response to protests last December following a Staten Island grand jury decision not to charge a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
The bill is based off a letter the Lieutenants Benevolent Association sent to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in January requesting an “aggravated resisting” charge.
“This helps everybody,” LBA President Louis Turco told The Post. “Civilians don’t get hurt and officers don’t get hurt.”
Setting aside the now all-too-routine fact that police policy is largely directed by the unelected NYPD brass and then later driven through by compliant state legislators, such a policy would have deeply troubling implications. First off, making resisting arrest a felony would severely and disportionately affect communities of color. As WYNC reported last December, resisting arrest - like all facets of our justice system - is not applied evenly among class and race:
NYPD officers appear to be far more likely to file resisting arrest charges against black suspects than white suspects — with dramatic differences in some parts of the city, according to a WNYC Data News analysis of court records.
Law enforcement experts say resisting arrest charges are a strong indicator that an arrest went bad and a cop had to use force. So, with the death of Eric Garner over the summer during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes, WNYC's Data News team analyzed court records to look at who gets charged with resisting arrest.