Over 750 people, companies and organizations in and around the music industry — including Anderson .Paak, singer and fashion mogul Rihanna, rapper and prison reform advocate Meek Mill, tech billionaire Elon Musk, "super-manager" Irving Azoff and all three of the major labels and their myriad sub-labels — have signed a petition to repeal Section 50-a of New York state's Civil Rights Law. The coalition claims the statute has been used to shield police officers from accountability. Notably absent from the rolls — a full list of signatories can be found here — are two of the world's leading event promoters, Live Nation and AEG.
"It is not enough to chip away at 50-A," the letter reads, "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."
Since 1976, the statute has prevented the personnel records of any police officer, corrections officer or firefighter from being made public. The law was intensely criticized following the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner at the hands of then-NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose disciplinary history was prevented from being released by the 50-A statute.
The open letter, sent Monday evening, followed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for a ban on both 50-a and chokeholds by the police. Several bills to address police oversight, including a repeal of 50-a and a ban on the use of chokeholds by officers, are expected to move quickly to Cuomo's desk, where he is expected to sign them into law.