Rihanna, Ariana Grande & Hundreds More in Music Sign Open Letter Urging New York Police Reform

50-A protest
Scott Heins/Getty Images

A protester holds a sign calling for the repeal of 50-A during a protest in New York City on June 2, 2020.

Artists, managers, executives and more are calling for New York state to repeal statute 50-A, the law that shields police officers’ personnel and disciplinary records from public view.

Hundreds of members of the music community, including artists, managers, publishers, trade groups, executives and record labels, signed an open letter Monday (June 8) calling for New York state to repeal statute 50-A, the state law that shields police officers’ personnel and disciplinary records from public view.

The decades-old law has long allowed misconduct and disciplinary records of police officers to remain hidden from public view, and its dissolution has become a key piece of calls for police reform in the weeks since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

"We mourn the killing of George Floyd and the unnecessary loss of so many black lives before his," states the letter, which was signed by Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Migos, Post MaloneMegan Thee Stallion, Justin Bieber, Meek Mill, Nas, Demi Lovato and more. "We must hold accountable those who violate the oath to protect and serve, and find justice for those who are victim to their violence. 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 It must be repealed immediately."

The letter will be sent to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Over the past few days, Cuomo has touted the reform of 50-A as part of his four-part reform package and the New York legislature is set to vote on a series of reform bills Monday.

But the signees to the letter, as well as many activists, do not believe that reforming the statute goes far enough, and prefer its full repeal. Cuomo has said he will sign whichever bill the legislature passes.

"We were pleased to hear the Governor’s statement that 50-A should not prohibit the release of disciplinary records," the letter continues. "But, clearly, it is not enough. 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 has been signed by more than 300 artists, actors and athletes, as well as more than 200 additional organizations and individual supporters. The letter also is accompanied by a petition, which can be found here.

See the full text of the letter below and at this link, where the full list of signatories can also be found.

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. 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.

It is not enough to chip away at 50-A; this boulder in the path of justice has stood in the way for far too long and must be crushed entirely. It is not just a misreading of the statute; it is not just an inappropriate broadening of its scope. It is the statute itself, serving to block relevant crucial information in the search for accountability.

We were pleased to hear the Governor’s statement that 50-A should not prohibit the release of disciplinary records. But, clearly, it is not enough. 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.

Thank you.

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