Both houses of the New York State Legislature passed a bill to repeal New York Civil Rights Law section 50-A—which keeps police disciplinary records from the public—as hundreds of artists and art organizations signed an open letter urging Governor Cuomo to commit to repealing the statute. The letter includes signatures from actors and musicians, including Miguel, Pepe Aguilar, Anitta, Kelis, Mariah Carey, Princess Nokia, Lauren Jauregui and more.
“We mourn the killing of George Floyd and the unnecessary loss of so many black lives before his. We must hold accountable those who violate the oath to protect and serve, and find justice for those who are victim to their violence,” the letter reads.
“An indispensable step is having access to disciplinary records of law enforcement officers. New York statute 50-A blocks that full transparency, shielding a history of police misconduct from public scrutiny, making it harder to seek justice and bring about reform. It must be repealed immediately.”
50-A has been in effect for more than 40 years and, according to Gothamist, “severely restricts the disclosure of police personnel records, as well as those of corrections officers and firefighters.” Essentially, it limits transparency: If someone is arrested and wants to see if the cop has been accused of misconduct in the past, the statute blocks their disciplinary file and protects the cop.
The letter asks Cuomo not just to “chip away” at the law but to dismantle it completely, given how it blocks “relevant crucial information in the search for accountability.”
“50-A has been used far too often in the past and, without repeal, it will continue to be used to block justice. When the Legislature returns this week, we urge members to recognize the moment, take one loud, bold, and meaningful step in addressing this systemic problem, and swiftly repeal 50-A,” the letter says.