The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association wants the city and federal government to investigate the Bronx Defenders role in a music video that depicts the shooting of a white police officer.
The PBA said the public defenders advocacy group, which received about $41 million in city contracts over the past two years, and $1.5 million in federal justice grants, should be investigated for their involvement in the Eric Garner tribute video, called “Hands Up,” by Brooklyn rappers Uncle Murda and Maino.
PBA President Pat Lynch sent letters to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Attorney General Eric Holder on Jan. 23. Lynch said the PBA is independently investigating Bronx Defenders’ involvement in the “Hands Up” video.
The video, posted on YouTube Dec. 3, shows footage of Garner being choked on Staten Island and other videos of police using force against people of color. The video depicts two men pointing guns at the front and the back of a white police officer’s head, and lyrics including “a cop got to get killed.”
The Bronx Defenders office is featured as grief-stricken woman walks through the door and is comforted by an attorney.
The Bronx Defenders put out a statement two days after the video was released saying they regretted appearing in the video, and only learned of the song’s content after the video was posted online.
“The Bronx Defenders does not endorse the use of violence against the police under any circumstance,” the Bronx Defenders told Metro in an email on Sunday. “We are an organization committed to preserving life, dignity and respect for all people. We are cooperating fully with the Department of Investigation.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak told Metro in an email that the city Department of Investigation has spent six weeks investigating the Bronx Defenders’ involvement in the music video, and findings are expected in the near future.
“One fact is already clear: New York City taxpayers are funding an organization that has lent its name and resources to an effort that encourages the murder of police officers,” Lynch wrote in his letter to city officials. “Not a single additional cent of City money should support the parties who played a role in this video.”
Lynch’s letter also said the “inciting” speech puts both the public and police officers at risk, and continued financial support would “constitute a violation of the public’s trust.”
Lynch was not available for comment on Sunday, PBA spokesman Albert O’Leary said.
"As Mayor de Blasio has said repeatedly, threats and acts of violence against police officers are absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Walzak said on behalf of the mayor’s office.