I have been working to change the narrative. As a country, we must reformulate how we speak and act as we witness the dreadful and never ending news of African-Americans being killed for no reason. In June of 2020, we did our part when our office and community painted a massed Black Lives Matter mural in Bed-Stuy, showing the world that compassion for all is possible. It was transformative to read the names of the lives cut short simply because of the color of their skin.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge another transformation. Our City still shows shocking disparities depending on what neighborhood you live in. This week for the first time, a New York Police Department Commissioner confronted this. Commissioner Dermot Shea spoke bluntly of the NYPD’s “historical role at times in the mistreatment of communities of color.” He called for “a hard, honest moment of truth” that recognized the role law enforcement had played in our racial history.
What will this apology accomplish? It will not let anyone out of jail who shouldn’t be there. But systemic change will also require new language in how the NYPD speaks about itself. Commissioner Shea’s words are an important step in the right direction. Could anyone imagine a Police Commissioner saying this twenty years ago? There are many roles we all must play to make New York a more just city. I want to thank Commissioner Shea for helping change the narrative in a positive direction.