June 8, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Intent to Sign Criminal Justice Reform Introduced by State Legislature

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Intent to Sign Criminal Justice Reform Introduced by State Legislature
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Governor Cuomo: "People are saying enough is enough, and it is enough. It is enough. It's been the same point over and over and over again. Bring reforms to the criminal justice system. Bring reforms to policing. We've seen the same situation happen 20, 30, 40 times. How many times do you have to see the same situation before you act?"

Cuomo: "We worked with the legislature over the weekend. I think we have an agreement on the bills that are going to be introduced. If they pass the bills that we discussed, I will sign the bills and I will sign them as soon as they're passed. I want to thank both of them for their leadership."

Cuomo: "This is not about what an individual state can do. It's actually broader than that. New York State will take this legislative action— and I hope it then becomes a model for other states to follow. We've done that in New York a number of times. We did it with marriage equality, we did it with free college tuition, we did it with raising the minimum wage. New York acts and then it provides a spur for progressive action by the rest of the country."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced his intent to sign a set of bills on criminal justice reform introduced by the New York State Legislature. The reforms will include:

  • Allow for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by reforming 50-a of the civil rights law;
  • Banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers;
  • Prohibiting false race-based 911 reports and making them a crime; and
  • Designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

It's also day 15 of the civil unrest after the murder of Mr. Floyd and now we're dealing with the two situations simultaneously. In many ways, they both compound each other. It's not just the protest, it's protests happening during the COVID situation. We have to deal with both. The protests continued yesterday all across the state. They were by and large peaceful. The protesters are basically right. It's not just a New York State phenomenon or an American phenomenon, it's happening all across the globe. It is amazing. I was watching this morning protests in Rome, protests in Spain - it's all across the globe.

People are saying enough is enough, and it is enough. It is enough. It's been the same point over and over and over again. Bring reforms to the criminal justice system. Bring reforms to policing. We've seen the same situation happen 20, 30, 40 times. How many times do you have to see the same situation before you act?

We're going to act in the State of New York. Transparency of disciplinary records for police officers - what they call the repeal of 50-a. Which, by the way, what 50-a says is the records of police officers will no longer be exempt from disclosure so the records of police officers will be like every other public employee. They'll be like teachers; they'll be like CSEA employees or DC-37 employees in New York City. Their records will be available. If people make complaints about them, they will be in the record and they will be released. Ban chokeholds. We went through that with Eric Garner. How many times? But pass a law that says that.

The Attorney General as special prosecutor. Five years ago, I did an executive order that said the Attorney General should investigate cases where police kill an unarmed person. Why? Because the local District Attorney— and I have tremendous respect for the District Attorneys; I was an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan— but a District Attorney works with that police force day-in and day-out. How do you expect the public to think that the local District Attorney as an arbiter is going to be unbiased? Attorney General: statewide elected official who can do the investigation of police misconduct and give the people of the State confidence that it's a fair investigation. And banning false-based 911 reports. We worked with the legislature over the weekend. I think we have an agreement on the bills that are going to be introduced. If they pass the bills that we discussed, I will sign the bills and I will sign them as soon as they're passed. I want to thank both of them for their leadership.

This is a difficult time. People are angry. People are angry on multiple issues.

And feelings are intense on multiple issues. So, in the midst of it, you have to find out what's right, rather than what's politically expedient. And I want to praise the Senate Leader and the Assembly Leader, the Speaker for their leadership. And I hope we have a good productive week this week.

But this is not about what an individual state can do. It's actually broader than that. New York State will take this legislative action— and I hope it then becomes a model for other states to follow. We've done that in New York a number of times. We did it with marriage equality, we did it with free college tuition. We did it with raising the minimum wage. New York acts and then it provides a spur for progressive action by the rest of the country. But this is also bigger than what states can do. What this protest really is about is systemic racism, and systemic injustice and systemic inequality. Yes, when it comes to policing. But frankly, it's worse than just policing. It's the fundamental institutions in our society that systematize discrimination. It's the fact that we have two education systems— one for the rich and one for the poor. And poor children receive a different education than rich children. Because there's a gross funding disparity.

It's the lack of an affordable housing agenda, where the federal government just doesn't provide affordable housing anymore. They used to provide Section 8 vouchers. They used to provide what's called project-based Section 8 vouchers so you could build. They used to build public housing. That's all stopped. That's all stopped. It's the healthcare system: what we saw with COVID— that you have inequality in the healthcare system and that the neighborhoods that COVID ravaged are the neighborhoods that had less healthcare to begin with. That's not a coincidence. That's the fundamental cause of the injustice and that's what we should be addressing along with policing issues. And there is a moment to do this. There's a global moment— there's certainly a national moment— for that change.

Carpe diem? Carpe momentum? Seize the moment! There's a moment Change comes in a moment. When did we pass gun safety? Right after Sandy Hook. Why? Because people said, enough is enough! People are saying enough is enough again! Seize the moment and end the systemic injustice and inequality. Education, healthcare, housing, policing, and criminal justice.

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