Black Lives Matter activists occupied police union offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City on Wednesday morning for what protesters say is the unions' role in defending police violence against minorities and opposing police reform legislation.
In D.C., activists with the local chapters of the Black Youth Project 100 and Black Lives Matter blocked the entrances to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) legislative headquarters and the nearby intersection.
Meanwhile, the New York City chapters of the BYP100 and Million Hoodies occupied the lobby of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, which represents New York City Police Department officers.
Standing outside the FOP's legislative office in D.C., local Black Youth Project 100 activist Clarise McCants called the FOP "the most dangerous fraternity in America."
"We're here today to make sure that no legislation that will continue to criminalize black people and protect killer cops is created," McCants said. "When police officers kill us, they call their police union rep first, so the unions, especially the Fraternal Order of Police, are one of the main hindrances to keeping police accountable."
McCants referenced the police shooting of Akai Gurley in 2014. After a rookie cop shot Gurley in a dark stairwell in a Brooklyn housing project, he texted his union representative and waited six and a half minutes before radioing for help.
Activists said they targeted the FOP because it has been a driving force behind "blue lives matter" bills, which aim to make assaults on police officers hate crimes, as well as opposition to policing reforms. McCants called the FOP "the ALEC of police," a reference to the American Legislative Exchange Committee, a free-market network that has funneled model bills through statehouses across the country.
The protests in D.C. urge police officers who support policing reforms to stop paying dues to the FOP. In New York, protesters are also calling for the immediate firing of police officer Wayne Isaacs, who was recently stripped of his gun and badge after he fatally shot a motorist while off-duty.
The Fraternal Order of Police and the Patrolman's Benevolent Association did not immediately return requests for comment.