The Daily Grind Video

Let me begin with a very clear message: I am not anti-police, never  have been, never will be. In fact, I think for many people who come from communities like the one I grew up in, Hollis, Queens, becoming a police officer is a great ambition that leads to a steady, well-paying job with great benefits.  We certainly would want to encourage young men and young women who grow up in the five boroughs to continue to dream of becoming a police officer one day. And I am well aware that the vast majority of the officers in the NYPD are well-intended, good people who want to serve and protect the people of New York City.  I am also a yogi and am a daily practitioner of ahimsa (non-violence).  The violence in this country and this world saddens me deeply, and I will always denounce any and all acts of violence towards any human being or animal

on this planet.

The decades of violence, whether within our own communities or whether conducted by the state, should be all of our concern. However, over the past few months, since the death of Mike Brown, something glaringly wrong with our system has shined upon our nation like a blinding light.  It has become apparent to most Americans that our justice system is not working the way it was designed to work.  A large portion of the public believes cops act with a sense of impunity, no matter if we witness the death of an unarmed civilian on video or not. Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the inherit flaws in the broader criminal justice system, where it is near impossible to indict a police officer.  It is now evidently clear to the people of New York and the people of this nation, that a local district attorney cannot and should not be the ones presenting a case to a grand jury that involves any sort of force by a police officer.  The working relationship between a district attorney’s office and the police is far too incestuous for there ever to be fairness in the process.  Simple put, those who work with the police cannot be the ones to police the police.

Governor Cuomo must support a special prosecutor’s office for these type of cases moving forward.  I have spoken to him personally, and he promised me that he would introduce legislation at the beginning of the next legislative session.  Whether it is through an executive order or legislation, it needs to get done immediately.  I urge New York City Mayor de Blasio and Police Commisioner Bratton to publicly support this effort. Furthermore, the public has lost confidence in the ability for police departments to discipline their own officers for violations of their own policy.  There needs to be a new set of guidelines for this as well.  As a life-long New Yorker, I am looking for my home state to lead.  I am counting on those who sit in positions of power to make changes that protect the most vulnerable.  And I am relying on the young people to continue to provide innovative solutions that we will all listen to and take into consideration when correcting these problems.

The lack of indictments of the officers in Ferguson and Staten Island have energized young people from Missouri to New York, Oakland to Miami, and Los Angeles to Washington.  Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets over the past few months to peacefully protest their government, something I support (and it should go without saying…but just so there is no misunderstanding, anyone engaging in violence during any protest has no place in my heart).  But, let us not mistake anger for violence.  One can be angry, outraged, furious and still not be violent.  That is what I have seen on the streets. I have met and spoken with many of the peaceful protesters and organizers, and their anger is understandable, as it doesn’t stem from being anti-police; the anger, frustration, pain and sadness stems from being anti-police brutality and feeling the justice system is no longer protecting them.  We all must work together to fix the flaws in our system, so it there is truly justice for all in America.  But, we must do it now!

-Russell Simmons