Seeing a wall of blue in courtrooms can influence jurors. So, it’s not unreasonable to ask officers not to wear their uniforms during a trial involving a police shooting.
That’s the argument of a Black Lives Matter activist who was told not to wear a T-shirt with the movement’s logo during a trial of a New York City police officer, the New York Daily News reported.
Hawk Newsome, the regional head of Black Lives Matter, told the newspaper that an assistant attorney general directed him to turn his T-shirt inside out because of a logo ban.
Newsome was sitting in the courtroom gallery during jury selection for the trial of Office Wayne Isaacs. He faces up to life in prison for fatally shooting a man in a 2016 road rage encounter.
However, Newsome noted that the courtroom was full of officers attending in support of Isaacs. No one told them not to wear their uniforms.
“How fair is it that police can visibly support another cop who was indicted for murder and manslaughter, but family and activist can’t wear a particular shirt?” Newsome told The Daily News. He filed a complaint with the administrative judge, saying that the police presence can influence the jury.
It’s not unprecedented to ban officers from wearing police uniforms in a mass show of support for a fellow officer during a trial.
The New York Times reported that a federal judge issued that order during the 2006 trial of a man accused of killing two undercover detectives on Staten Island.
A juror in a separate case told the newspaper that she voted to convict a man accused of killing two Brooklyn detectives in 2004 because of the police presence in the courtroom.
“It sort of felt like we were expected to return a verdict as we did: a guilty verdict,” she told The Times.