Press Release: GGE Applauds Civilian Complaint Review Board in Taking Steps Towards Addressing NYPD Sexual Misconduct

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FEBRUARY 20, 2018

CONTACT: mobilize@ggenyc.org or 718-857-1393

Civil Complaint Review Board Takes First Steps to Address NYPD Sexual Misconduct

New York, NY – Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) applauds a pivotal first step taken by the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) in adopting a resolution to immediately begin to investigate claims of NYPD sexual harassment and extortion and committing to create a city agency plan to begin addressing more serious forms of sexual misconduct. As an independent city agency authorized by the New York City charter to investigate and report on claims of abuse of police authority including racialized slurs, physical harm, deaths in custody, and other forms of police misconduct, it was well within the purview of power of the CCRB to include cases of sexual misconduct claims. This move comes as the Governor introduces language in his budget to address a state law that currently permits officers to use the defense that consent was given even if a person is in police custody.

The CCRB Board voted unanimously to begin to investigate NYPD sexual misconduct involving sexual harassment, sexual harassment using physical gestures, taking unwarranted photographs or videos, sexual humiliation, sexually motivated traffic stops, street stops, summonses or arrests, and sexual extortion or romantic propositions. Girls for Gender Equity stands with Anna Chambers, who is one of many survivors of NYPD police violence, as well as with all survivors who have experienced sexual misconduct by officers, rooted in racial and gender discrimination.

According to the the CCRB, the agency “received 117 complaints with allegations of possible sexual misconduct between January 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017 and referred all of these complaints to the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) for investigation. The complaints included a variety of allegations, from catcalls and sexual propositions to unwanted touching and rape.”

GGE urges the CCRB to engage community members – including youth – who have direct experience with gender-based violence. We urge the CCRB to seek their expertise as the agency prepares to roll out a trauma informed plan that supports survivors of violence as they move toward addressing claims of sexual misconduct by NYPD officers involving over-the-clothing groping during frisks, sexual assault, forcible rape, and on-duty sexual activity.

Gabrielle Larochelle, Young Women’s Advisory Council member at GGE stated:
“New Yorkers need a separate entity that is not affiliated with the NYPD to police the police when they have failed us. There is a story in the news currently about a young woman named Anna Chambers, who is actually my own age, and was sexually assaulted by two NYPD officers.”

Amber Santiago, Young Women’s Advisory Council member at GGE stated:
“This issue directly affects myself and my community, as a young transgender woman of color, I worry about the safety of just getting from point A to B. So imagine how I and my trans sisters feel after hearing and seeing all these stories where police misuse their control.”

Megan Jean Louis, Young Women’s Advisory Council member at GGE stated:
“The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) plays one of the most instrumental roles in ensuring the public’s trust in the New York Police Department (NYPD). As such, the CCRB should hold oversight on the NYPD for sexual misconduct. The public should be aware of ways to report crimes committed by a police officer. Research on police sexual misconduct concludes that it is a systemic issue. It is also well known that marginalized youth are more likely to have interactions with the police. In 2000, a survey of nearly 1,000 New York City youth found that 2 in 5 young women — almost half of whom were black, Latina or Asian — reported sexual harassment by officers. Police also target women they don’t think would be believed if they came forward, including women of color, transgender women, women who use drugs or alcohol, and women involved in the sex trade.”

Andrea Ritchie, Researcher-in-Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality and Criminalization at the Barnard Center for Research on Women stated:
“The CCRB’s decision is the culmination of over a decade of advocacy by women, LGBTQ people, and people in the sex trades urging the nation’s largest civilian oversight agency to stand with survivors of sexual violence by police officers by offering them a safe, independent, and supportive option for investigation of their complaints. The Board should not delay in ensuring that this option is available as soon as possible to survivors of the most serious forms of sexual violence by police, and in embarking on a public awareness campaign to ensure that all New Yorkers know that the city is taking the issue of police sexual violence seriously.”

Roksana Mun, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform and the Director of Strategy and Training at DRUM-Desis Rising Up and Moving stated:
“When civilians are sexually assaulted and harassed by NYPD officers, it is senseless for their complaints to be investigated by fellow NYPD officers. The police department has historically proven that it cannot police itself, and we applaud the CCRB for voting to take over responsibility for investigating, and prosecuting when warranted, certain sexual misconduct incidents by officers. It’s critical that the CCRB provide comprehensive investigations and prosecutions and seek meaningful consequences that lead to the termination of employment for police officers who abuse their authority by sexually abusing civilians.”

Joanne N. Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity stated:
“GGE works with girls, young women, and LGBQI/TGNC youth of color to take the lead on eradicating structural, racial, state, and sexual violence and criminalization in order to build a future where they thrive. Daily, the New York Police Department survails and dehumanizes girls, young women, and LGBQI/TGNC youth of color during interactions in overpoliced schools and communities. These interactions are consistently gender-based, racialized, and violent. New Yorkers deserve a transparent and trauma-informed process when police misconduct occurs. GGE applauds the expansion of CCRB’s investigatory purview to include claims of NYPD sexual harassment and extortion and looks forward to continuing conversations with CCRB.”

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Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) is an intergenerational organization committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women. Through education, organizing and physical fitness, GGE encourages communities to remove barriers and create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives.

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