Activists at City Hall called for Police Commissioner William Bratton's resignation Monday following the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner.
They say the so-called "Broken Windows" policing policy creates a pattern of brutality in the NYPD.
Bratton pioneered that policy when he was commissioner under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
It focuses on making arrests for low-level crimes in order to deter more serious ones.
"And so I hope this very human tragedy created the new political space for a fundamental re-examination of the department's top to bottom reliance on 'Broken Windows'-based policing," one activist said.
"He's selling cigarettes now. In the near future he'll be selling packs of cigarettes? Or he'll be selling crates of cigarettes? What is the next crime he's gonna do?" another activist said.
Bratton first introduced the policy during his last term as police commissioner in the 90s.