On December 10, both Jay Z and Russell Simmons were part of a group that met with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo amid protests over the lack of indictments in recent high-profile deaths involving the police. In his recent State of the State address, Governor Cuomo called for policies allowing district attorneys the ability to issue reports explaining proceedings in hearings where officers are investigated but not indicted. Cuomo also took measures to have such cases reviewed by independent monitors.
Jay Z commended the measures in the following written statement given to the Capitol Confidential blog:
‘The criminal justice reform package proposed by Governor Cuomo today is a huge step forward in restoring fairness, protection, sensitivity and accountability for all under our justice system. I commend Governor Cuomo for his bold leadership in taking this issue head on at this critical time. This package presents comprehensive steps to protect and improve relations amongst all citizens. We cannot be divided, as every single human being matters. Together, we can move forward as a community, with mutual respect for each other and continue to make this great state stronger than ever before.’
The combined deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and other unarmed black males with no indictments of the officers involved in the encounters led to protests, die-ins, and in some cases civil unrest.
On a local level, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was the subject of pointed criticism from Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. Officers turned their backs on de Blasio during funerals for slain officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Pro-police factions with ‘I Can Breathe’ shirts countered those protesting under the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘I Can’t Breathe’ movements.