In a rare public statement, Jay Z commented on New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to improve relations between police and civilians, revealed in Wednesday’s State of the State speech. The rapper praised Cuomo’s initiatives, which include the recruitment of more minorities in law enforcement and an independent monitor to review cases in which police are involved in the deaths of civilians but are not indicted by grand juries, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
“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,” Jay Z said in a statement, via Capitol Confidential.
“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.”
Last month, Jay Z — along with producer Russell Simmons and rapper Common — met with Cuomo, asking him to reform the state’s criminal justice system. Separately, he also distributed “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts, in support of Garner’s case, to basketball players that same month.
Cuomo’s plans also include a statewide commission to review police and community relations and a request for race and ethnic data on how police operate across the state. The plan also benefits police, with the state set to fund replacement bulletproof vests, body cameras and bulletproof glass for police units operating in high-crime areas.
Regarding the way Cuomo wants to handle grand jury decisions with police and civilians, the independent monitor would have access to some, typically secret, grand jury information. Cuomo also wants to do away with a restriction on district attorneys releasing grand jury findings.
“The promise of equal justice is a New York promise, and it is an American promise,” Cuomo said in his speech. “We are currently in the midst of a national problem where people are questioning our justice system.”