THE BLOG
01/08/2015 09:55 am ET Updated Mar 10, 2015

Dear Governor Cuomo, Fix Our Justice System Now!

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dear Governor Andrew Cuomo,

First and foremost, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to you and your family on the passing of your incredible father, Governor Mario Cuomo. I have known you and your family for a very long time, and you have always treated me like one of your own, and for that I am eternally grateful. Your father was a great man and an incredible icon of progressive politics who inspired millions in the empire state and across the nation. His torch that you carry burns even brighter with your leadership on so many critical issues that millions of New Yorkers face.

One critical issue that is at the current forefront of freedom for so many in our state, is that of excessive use of force, often deadly force, by police officers in departments across New York. This issue has had enormous impact on the confidence or lack thereof that many have in our justice system and with police. Sadly, it has become a shared belief in communities of color that police act with impunity, no matter how obvious the violation and/or crime (and many white people share this thought as well).

As I mentioned in the immediate aftermath of the heinous murders of Officer Liu and Officer Ramos, we can grieve for the fallen while remaining steadfast in our fight for the living. It is with this urgency that we call on you to make good on your promise. Less than a month ago, you promised the people of this state that you would put forth a package before the legislature at the beginning of this session to create a special prosecutor for all complaints of excessive force by a police officer against a civilian. Now is the time to put forth that package. I know a lot has happened since you made that promise and I understand that these are politically charged times, but there is no more time to waste. I have learned that the Senate Democrats presented a package yesterday, certainly a good starting point, but this issue needs your leadership. If not, then step out of the way, and allow Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to oversee all of these cases immediately until the New York State legislature can get it together. Make no mistake, this is not only an issue for the state of New York; the entire country is watching how we dismantle a flawed system where police and their friends police themselves. This must end. The taxpayers are looking to you, Governor Cuomo, to lay out the blueprint for national change, to be an example for the rest of the country. And police officers need a better system of accountability, so it can remove the negative stigma that so many good officers have received by the actions of a few.

If the status quo does not change, trust me -- we will march with more ferocity and with more people than the state has ever seen in the streets of cities and towns from Long Island to Buffalo. We will march for Akai Gurley. For Eric Garner. For Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. Tamir Rice. Mike Brown. Because though the seeds of justice have long ago been sown, they have only recently sprouted anew. Because we the people have seen our collective voice manifested in the streets, entering the consciousness of the indifferent, and soon the legislature. The change we are asking for will inevitably happen. The only question is when. And for that we turn to you. Governor Cuomo, the floor is yours.