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NYPD Pulls Over the One Guy They Maybe Don’t Want to Pull Over Right Now

The cop never told Councilmember Yusef Salaam why he pulled him over.

9:07 AM EST on January 29, 2024

Body camera footage of Councilmember Yuself Salaam being pulled over on Friday night.

Body camera footage of the NYPD pulling over Councilmember Yuself Salaam in Harlem on Friday night (screenshot)

On Friday night, just as Mayor Eric Adams was making his last stand to try and prevent the City Council from overriding his veto of an NYPD transparency bill involving police stops, the cops happened to pull over the newly minted chair of the council's public safety committee, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly seven years, Dr. Yusef Salaam. 

In a press release sent out on Saturday morning, Councilmember Salaam said that he was driving with his family in his Harlem district and listening to a conference call the council was having to discuss the How Many Stops Act, when he was pulled over.

"I introduced myself as Councilman Yusef Salaam, and subsequently asked the officer why I was pulled over. Instead of answering my question, the officer stated, 'We’re done here,' and proceeded to walk away," Salaam said. "This experience only amplified the importance of transparency for all police investigative stops, because the lack of transparency allows racial profiling and unconstitutional stops of all types to occur and often go unreported."

Hours later, the NYPD issued its own statement about the stop, which noted that Salaam was driving a car with Georgia license plates and illegally tinted windows. The department also released the stop report and the body camera footage, proving that the NYPD is capable of warp-speed transparency—when it means covering its own ass. 

On Saturday evening, just before Mayor Adams was about to lead a handful of councilmembers on a "ride-along" with the NYPD to show how harmful the bill requiring NYPD officers to document low-level encounters with civilians would be, the mayor insisted that Salaam's stop showed that the current system works.

"We saw, really, a picture-perfect example, how civilians and police officers responded," Adams said. "Professional, courteous, communicative." 

Except, not really.

Mayor Adams praised the cop for using his "discretion" here, but discretion to do what? Let a City Councilmember go for a minor violation of traffic laws that are rarely enforced against police officers and public servants anyway? (It's time to get a New York license plate, councilmember!)

Crucially, the NYPD officer never tells Salaam why he was pulled over in the first place. Salaam asks "Is everything OK?" to which the officer replies "Yep! You're working, right?" 

This is what proponents of the bill say is so important about requiring NYPD to take a few extra minutes every month to log low-level interactions with the public— it will show who exactly the police are interacting with, and why.

The City Council is set to override the mayor's veto on Tuesday afternoon.

Here are some links that are "picture-perfect" examples of stories you want to read:

And finally, Table of Success member Kaz Daughtry is getting a taste of immortality:

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