Progressive Caucus Members denounce PBA’s divisive tactics

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Council Members in the City Council Progressive Caucus contest the recent efforts by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association to illustrate an adversarial relationship between the Administration, Legislature and the essential, public servicemen in the NYPD. The false dichotomy illustrated by these sensational, publicity efforts is a danger to the collaboration and cohesion necessary at this critical moment. The PBA’s organized efforts to exclude elected officials, who have advocated on behalf of police officers, are detrimental to community unity and a failure of their leadership.

 WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“It is deeply troubling that The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association issued a petition against Mayor De Blasio and City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito based on a perceived lack of support for officers from the administration, “ said Council Member Donovan Richards, Co-Chair of Progressive Caucus. “The police must partner with legislators to ensure that all New Yorkers are treated with respect in accordance to the law. If we fail to stand united on issues such as police accountability, it will become increasingly difficult to achieve the needed reforms in the system that justice demands.”

“In this trying time, the NYPD should be working even more closely with the administration to seek reforms that will improve its relationship with communities. The PBA’s efforts to undermine this are counterproductive, offensive, and do nothing to improve the NYPD’s relationship with New Yorkers,” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso.  

“The incendiary rhetoric of the PBA is inappropriate and completely not conducive to the goals our city is trying to reach. It only makes it harder for Mayor De Blasio, Commissioner Bratton, and Speaker Mark-Viverito to move our city forward and achieve true police reform. I expect more from a respected organization like the PBA, our police officers deserve better than these bombasts,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

“I’m a strong supporter of our local officers and I have a deep appreciation for the members of the NYPD who sacrifice their safety for ours on a daily basis,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “ I know from personal experience working with the precincts in my district that the NYPD can keep our community safe while respecting the civil rights of all New Yorkers. I commend the leadership of Mayor Bill De Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito who have stood up for police officers and shown strong support for the NYPD on many occasions. The incendiary rhetoric coming from the Policemen’s Benevolent Association is only serving to divide and polarize the city at a time when what we need most is to heal.”

“This Administration and Council have clearly displayed a value for working people and, in particular, public employees, many of whom provide critical services to the residents of New York City,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “Any implication to the contrary would be disingenuous, at best.”

“I’m proud to have a strong relationship with the NYPD precinct leadership in my district, and I truly value the work NYPD officers do every day in our neighborhoods,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I also know that Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito hold the same deep respect for NYPD officers, as they have shown throughout their careers in public service. We all want to bring real, positive change to community/police interactions throughout the city—and we’re going to do it by working together with community leaders and our partners in the NYPD. The recent negative tactics and rhetoric used by the Policemen’s Benevolent Association simply do nothing to help get us closer to a brighter future.”

“The rhetoric from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has gone too far,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “The NYPD makes our City a better, more peaceful place. But this recent rhetorical shift from the PBA, demanding that Mayor de Blasio & Speaker Mark-Viverito be preemptively disinvited to the funerals of officers killed in the line of duty is over the top and unnecessary. We all want a safe and peaceful City. A return to civil discourse is necessary to advance our City to a better & safer place.”

“At this difficult moment in police-community relations, we must stand together so all people in all neighborhoods are treated with the same dignity and respect,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“What a day it will be when the PBA and other police unions decide to sit down as productive partners for police reform, instead of disseminating disrespectful and dangerous rhetoric that halts any progress being made. I call on the PBA to end their disgraceful tactics and come to the table like productive adults,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

“Now is the time to unite in our common pursuit of a safer and more just city, not to allow ourselves to be divided. We can and must move forward together, as New Yorkers, to tackle the challenges before us,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“At a time when we should be joining together to enact meaningful policing reforms, these types of stunts are in poor taste and extremely counterproductive. I’m confident these inflammatory sentiments are not held by a majority of the brave men and women on the force, and I hope the PBA will be more careful with its rhetoric in the future,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“New York police officers are hard-working public servants. They keep us safe at great potential peril to their own well-being. Their courage warrants the presence of our highest elected officials – the Mayor and the Speaker – if one has given the ultimate sacrifice for the people of NYC,” said City Council Member Daniel Dromm. “They deserve leadership who will keep certain sacred traditions outside of political maneuvering. I am confident that cooler heads will prevail and members of the police force will respect that the office of Mayor and Speaker and honor the people’s elected officials. “

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Progressive Council Members Williams and Johnson Co-lead Fair Chance Legislation

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Yesterday, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader, and Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, was joined by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Members Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Daniel Dromm, Andy King and advocacy groups, during a press conference prior to a Council hearing on the New York City Fair Chance Act. Council Member Williams is the co-lead sponsor of the Into. 318, which will ‘Ban the Box’ from employment applications, ensuring that all New Yorkers, even those with a criminal record, have an equal opportunity to compete for a job.

The legislation fits into a national trend of expanding access to employment as a way to lower recidivism and ensure employers consider all qualified applicants and not overlook the candidate who might become their best employee. To date, 13 states and nearly 90 cities and counties have adopted fair-chance ordinances, including Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Buffalo, and Rochester. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“I am proud to work with such a vibrant group of advocates and elected officials to get the New York City Fair Chance Act passed,” said Council Member Williams. “Once enacted into law, this bill will ensure that all New Yorkers, including those with convictions for previous mistakes, will have an equal opportunity to compete for jobs they are qualified for. Though the legislation does not require employers to hire any particular applicant, it delays the background check, thus supplementing preexisting law that says employers cannot deny a job because of a record unless there is a direct relationship to the job. Not only does employment strengthen communities and lower recidivism, but employers will have access to a broader range of qualified candidates to consider.”

“I want to express my gratitude to Chair Mealy for hearing Intro 318, which will give all qualified applicants a fair chance to compete for jobs by deferring questions about criminal history. More than five million New Yorkers with records will benefit from the chance to demonstrate their qualifications, and employers will be presented with a broader range of candidates from which to choose. Many employers report that it is people with criminal records who often work harder, are more willing to stay at a job for a longer period of time, and develop into valuable leaders,” said Council Member Corey Johnson.

“Too many New Yorkers, particularly young men of color, are denied the opportunity to be employed due to their criminal history. We have a responsibility to expand access to jobs for all New Yorkers, especially because employment reduces recidivism and strengthens our communities,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“New Yorkers believe in the power of a second chance. Having started a prisoner re-entry program when I ran the Fifth Avenue Committee, I’ve long witnessed the barriers that formerly incarcerated individuals face when trying to get back on their feet, said Council Member Brad Lander. “The Fair Chance Act will remove a key barrier, make sure we stop punishing those who have already served their time, and offer the chance at a fresh start to New Yorkers who need it most.”

IN  THE NEWS

NY Observer: Pols push bill banning businesses from inquiring about convictions

NY Post: New bill would stop criminal record disclosure on job applications 

Capital NY: Administration backs ban on criminal-background job questions

NY Daily News:  City Council debates ‘ban the box’ legislation

The National Law Review: New York City Council Debates Expansive “Ban the Box” Bill

Law and the Workplace: NYC Council Debates Expansive “Ban the Box” Bill

 

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Progressive Caucus Members respond to the grand jury decision in the case of Eric Garner

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Photo by William Alatriste

NEW YORK, NY – Members of the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council are extremely disheartened by the outcome in the case of Eric Garner. The grand jury decision to not indict the officer responsible for his death is a sad and disappointing one. Members feel that a major injustice has been committed and that the challenges regarding police and community relations is one in dire need of solutions. Council Members agree that the result in the case of Eric Garner’s death is another racial injustice stemming from systemic problems including institutionalized discrimination, hostile relations with public safety agents and failed police accountability.

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:

“The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aptly stated, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’,” said Co-Chair to Progressive Caucus, Council Member Donovan Richards. “Little did Dr. King know that the threat of injustice against men of color remains a pervasive threat fifty-one years after he penned those words. It is with a heavy heart and sincere disappointment that I acknowledge once more that our judicial system has failed to administer justice on behalf of those most vulnerable. It is imperative now for the communities of color and our allies to collectively voice our concerns on excessive policing and work diligently to enact systemic change.”

“This verdict is a disgrace. It sends a message to New Yorkers that the NYPD is above the law. It is yet another example of the failure of our justice system to serve everyone equally,” said Co-Chair Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“I could not have been more shocked, angered and saddened than to hear today’s news. We held out hope, and hope was denied. I offer my heartfelt sympathy to Eric Garner’s family and the grief that this news must be bringing to them. Our criminal legal system will not hold responsible those involved in the death of a man, but we continue to demand justice,” said Council Member Debi Rose, representing Staten Island. “We call on the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, loudly, clearly and peacefully, to pursue justice where justice was denied. We will get to the other side, peacefully.”

“Like so many others across our city, I’m beyond outraged to learn that the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner has not been indicted,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson? It’s shameful to allow NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo a free pass rather than force him to stand trial for his actions. It’s a miscarriage of justice for the family of Eric Garner. It’s a disheartening blow to every New Yorker of color who knows that, for them, true equality has sadly not yet come. Today I stand in solidarity with the family of Eric Garner. And alongside them, I call on all New Yorkers outraged by this decision to express their feelings peacefully. We must remember that violence is not the answer to today’s shameful decision. Instead, we must continue to demonstrate and raise our voices in the name of justice, equality and fairness. It’s what our city deserves.”

“I guess I should not be stunned. But I am stunned and angry. With video of a prohibited chokehold, and the coroner ruling it a homicide, this is simply not justice. We must stand united together — peacefully but with honest anger — to demand steps toward justice,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

“I am absolutely disappointed, appalled, and ashamed by the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Once again, it has been demonstrated that the threshold for indictment when it comes to black lives at the hands of police has been elevated to an unattainable standard,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “It appears in this case, as in the most recent case of Michael Brown, that the process has failed us. And for that reason, I assure you that the process is not over and I will continue to stand with those who remain to fight for the justice that is deserved by the mother, father, wife, and children of Eric Garner. Once again, I am forced to quote W.E.B. DuBois: ‘A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect’. For this reason we, as legislators, will continue to take a serious look at policing policy and measures of accountability, as indicated by a series of recent City Council bills.”

“I am deeply disappointed and saddened by today’s grand jury decision, and I stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Eric Garner. Today’s decision sends a clear message to communities of color across our city that the police are above the law. I hope this occasion compels an open an honest dialogue about what can be done to curb police misconduct, to end the culture of impunity that pervades the NYPD, and to restore trust between law enforcement and communities of color,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“As shocking and inexplicable as the Ferguson grand jury decision was, Staten Island’s is even worse because there was actually video. We are never going to be able to rebuild trust between police and communities unless we can hold accountable those few police officers that abuse their authority and use excessive force. Today’s announcement is a painful setback toward reaching that goal. We must enact tougher laws that give grand juries the tools to indict,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“It is a difficult holiday season for any American who holds steadfast to the principles of our nation’s founding–to ‘establish justice and insure domestic tranquility.’ In two devastating decisions back to back, first in Ferguson and now in the Eric Garner case, the victims’ families, our cities, and our nation in mourning deserved the opportunity to find the facts surrounding these tragic deaths. Martin Luther King said, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Now that injustice hits so close to home, we in the New York City Council stand with our fellow New Yorkers and our brothers and sisters in Ferguson as two cities facing similar pain, injustice and loss,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“The non-indictment decision on the Eric Garner case is tragic miscarriage of justice, particularly in the face of strikingly similar events across the country. In the spirit of Eric Garner, and all of the young men of color who share his heartbreaking fate, we must charge forward demanding justice at every stop, for every person,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.  Harsh and disproportionate policing in our communities cannot continue to derail justice, and reproduce broken relations. It defies logic that in a case with an incredible amount of evidence—including shocking video footage of Eric Garner’s death—the legal threshold for an indictment was not met. My heart continues to be with the family and loved ones of Eric Garner.”

“There is something to be said about the ethics of our justice system when a man dies at the hands of a police officer and there isn’t, at the bare minimum, a fair trial; it is disappointing and unacceptable. For Eric Garner and all the men of color I represent, Commissioner Bratton must work hard to make amends and improve the training of the NYPD,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

“My thoughts are with the family of Eric Garner following today’s grand jury decision,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “For all of us seeking justice for Eric and his family, today’s decision is deeply disappointing, to say the least. There is much work to be done until our society is truly equal for all men and women.”

“It is so deeply disturbing: four police officers subdued Eric Garner—an unarmed civilian—and one applies a chokehold which leads to his death. And the grand jury does not feel these facts – preserved on a video we’ve all seen – call for a jury trial. A trial is not a conviction. A trial can provide a more public and thorough discussion of what happened and why. A trial is something Eric Garner, his family, and New Yorkers deserve,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.  “It is a loss to people of all backgrounds and in all neighborhoods that Eric Garner’s death will not be investigated as part of the American jury trial system.”

“I am deeply disturbed that there will be no indictment in the Eric Garner case,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “Police officers must be held accountable when using lethal force. A father of six children is dead and justice has been denied to a family. My thoughts and prayers go to the Garner family at this difficult time.”

“As a person who cares about justice my heart aches today. I am profoundly saddened by the news coming out of Staten Island. Eric Garner died after being stopped for selling loose cigarettes. Neither the activity he was engaged in nor his response to the police officers who apprehended him warranted the force that was applied – force that ultimately resulted in his death.
As I have said before I know good people of all races are offended by injustice. Our criminal justice system must be one that every person believes in. We have a major problem in our City and country when people of color, black men in particular, believe that the justice system consistently fails them. I have great respect for police officers and the very difficult work they are charged with, but today’s announcement does not represent equal justice for all under the law.
When we witness a wrong we should raise our collective voices until we make it right. As a Council Member I remain as committed as ever to working with my colleagues to build better police-community relations and advancing laws that improve justice for all,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

IN THE NEWS

Captital NY: Councilmembers shaken by Garner decisionCouncil stages ‘die-in’ to protest Garner decision

International Business Times: Eric Garner Grand Jury Update: No Indictment For NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo In Chokehold Death

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: NYC pols react to Eric Garner decision

JP Updates: NYC Elected Officials Comment On Eric Garner Chokehold Verdict 

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Progressive Caucus Members’ Statement for Committee on Zoning and Franchising Hearing Regarding Cablevision

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Photo by William Alatriste

At 2pm today, the New York City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will held a hearing entitled, “Oversight – Cablevision Franchise Agreement and Collective Bargaining”. As the City Council is central to approving franchises, the committee will serve to evaluate the qualifications of the Cablevision Systems Corporation to participate in contracts with the City of New York. The City currently requires that its franchisees must recognize the right of “employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing”.

Yet reports have persisted regarding bad labor practices at various Cablevision locations, including a well-documented incident earlier this year where a Brooklyn-based employee and active member of CWA 1180 named Jerome Thompson was fired for voicing his displeasure regarding management’s treatment of employees.

Over the last twenty months the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued complaints against Cablevision on multiple issues, Mr. Thompson’s case included, all relating to anti-union activities. Other instances include holding an illegal union decertification vote, bad faith bargaining through unnecessary delays, and seeking to undermine unionization votes.

In advance of today’s subcommittee hearing, the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council issued the following statement:

Collective bargaining has been an essential instrument in promoting the advancement of the American worker. Yet repeatedly, it appears that Cablevision refuses to come to the table and bargain with the duly elected representatives of the workforce they employ.

In particular, CWA 1180 has repeatedly attempted to engage the corporation in negotiations regarding their Brooklyn-based tech workers over the past three years. Yet, Cablevision management has sought only to delay talks in an attempt to frustrate workers. Most recently, the corporation even held an illegal vote of those within the Brooklyn shop in an attempt to decertify their union representation.

While Cablevision has afforded 14% compensation increases to other tech workers under its employment, it has excluded the Brooklyn workers from this enhancement. The corporation instead seeks to trade disciplinary rights for monetary compensation with the unionized workers, failing to understand that freedom of speech and due process are already constitutionally protected. The notion that one could trade these rights for compensation and benefits is completely invalid.

Given their history, it appears as if the strategy Cablevision is attempting to pursue is one to disturb, disrupt, and disassemble the power of collective bargaining. If so, then action must be taken to ensure that our City does not illegally engage in contracts with this employer. Here in New York City we value workers and those who refuse to bargain with them do not deserve our business.

While today’s hearing will be a step towards determining the worthiness of Cablevision to participate in our franchising process, a breach of federal labor laws will ultimately require action from the NLRB. With that in mind, we look forward to learning more from the upcoming judgments on the Board’s complaints against Cablevision.

The Progressive Caucus includes four sitting members of the nine-member Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, including Co-chairs Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards and Council Members Jumaane Williams and Ritchie Torres.

As well as:

Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair, Civil Service and Labor Committee

Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Caucus Vice-chair for Budget

Council Member Ben Kallos, Caucus Vice-chair for Policy

Council Member Margaret Chin, Caucus Treasurer

Council Member Corey Johnson, District 3

Council Member Mark Levine, District 7

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, District 10

Council Member Stephen Levin, District 33

Council Member Brad Lander, District 39

Council Member Debi Rose, District 49

Council Member Carlos Menchaca, District 38

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, District 26 

IN THE NEWS

NY Observer: Progressive Caucus batters Cablevision lawyer in insult-filled hearing

NY Post: Cablevision battle spills into City Hall 

NY Daily News: Cablevision, Council Members clash at heated hearing 

Capital NY: Council Members, Cablevision reps clash during hearing 

Fierce Cable: NY City Council meets Tuesday about possible Cablevision franchise violations

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NYC Council Members Announce Legislation to Improve Communication between Police & Residents

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The Right to Know Act, new commonsense legislation introduced in the City Council, will improve communication between police officers and residents, and defuse conflict before it escalates. It is designed to rebuild trust between communities of color and the NYPD.

New York, NY— New Yorkers often have no idea why they are being questioned, stopped or searched, and don’t feel empowered to ask the identity of police officers interacting with them.

The Right to Know Act, legislation introduced by Council Members Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso, would help solve that problem. It has strong support from Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), community groups, local residents, and advocates.

The Right to Know Act will do two key things that are beneficial for civilians and officers: 1) require NYPD officers to identify themselves and explain their reason for subjecting a civilian to law enforcement activity and 2) require explanation of New Yorkers’ constitutional right to refuse a search when no legal basis exists for it except their consent. When such searches are conducted, there must be objective proof of the individual’s voluntary and informed consent. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“Although some recent progress has been made toward improving community-police relations, the experience on the ground for many young people of color has not changed. Even recent statistics show that young people of color are targeted for stops at much higher rates than the rest of the population. Today, we are introducing legislation to help ensure that all New Yorkers are aware of their right to consent to or refuse a search, in the absence of legal justification for the search. Most New Yorkers are not aware that they have this constitutional right. The Right to Know Act will also require officers to identify themselves in law enforcement encounters, which is a simple way to improve police-community relations.” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, a lead co-sponsor of the bill.

“While Mayor de Blasio’s recent announcement about curbing marijuana arrests is a step in the right direction, none of the policies set forth so far have dealt with the on-the-ground interactions between police and people, particularly the young men of color who are targeted at the highest rates. The Right to Know Act will go a long way toward improving these interactions. This legislation requires the police to obtain voluntary and informed consent in order to conduct searches, ensuring that all people are aware of their rights,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, a lead co-sponsor of the bill.

“All New Yorkers deserve better policing and safer streets. Everyone deserves to feel that their public safety and civil rights are protected. That was the mission of the Community Safety Act which I co-sponsored and that passed in 2013, and is the mission of the Right to Know Act, led by Council Members Torres and Reynoso. These bills do not change the framework cops need to engage in good policing, and does not change the existing legal requirements of probable cause for a search and reasonable suspicion for a stop. These bills are simply meant to continue the Council’s discussion about how the NYPD can engage in better and equitable police practices in all communities across the city. We all deserve that,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

“The ‘Right to Know Act’ embodies the NYPD motto of courtesy, professionalism, respect. The small acts — police officers identifying themselves, explaining the reason for a stop, and making sure individuals know their rights before a search — have the potential to significantly reduce abuses and bring major improvements to community-police relations. As part of the coalition that came together to pass the first Community Safety Act, I applaud this step forward toward respecting the rights and enhancing the safety of all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

IN THE NEWS

Capital NY:  Progressives push police reform bill opposed by de BlasioPolicing bills test de Blasio, and Council progressives

CBS NY: Bill requiring cops to get consent for some searches riles up NYPDNYC Council Bills Take Aim At Police Chokeholds, Stop-And-Frisk

New York Observer: Progressives Push ‘Consent’ as Antidote to Racial Bias in Drug StopsCity Councilman Rails Against Police Unions Spreading ‘Mass Hysteria’

New York Post: NYPD not asked about bill require permission to search

WABC TV NY; New York City Lawmakers Introduce NYPD Transparency Bill 

Epoch Times: NYC Council Introduces Bills on Chokeholds, Police Stopping and Questioning

Latin Post: New York City Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Improve Resident-Police Relations, Police Commission Calls it an Intrusion

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NYC Progressives respond to grand jury outcome in Ferguson

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Photo by William Alatriste

City Council Progressive Caucus members express disappointment to the refused indictment of Officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot unarmed, Black teen Michael Brown. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“Every year, hundreds of civilians lose their lives to excessive police force,” said Caucus Co-Chair Council Member Donovan Richards. “Despite the evidence detailing the pervasive use of tactics that prove fatal, successfully prosecuting police officers who kill in the line of duty is highly unusual. The tragic circumstances surrounding Mike Brown’s death, the grand jury’s misguided decision and the subsequent burning of Ferguson is a telling reminder that in America liberty and justice for all continues to be an elusive dream for those who are poorer and of color. As a nation we cannot afford to continue to miss opportunities to challenge and dismantle systems of governance, enforcement and law that skew in favor of one group over another.”

“It’s unfortunate that justice is not served equally. Quick, meaningful change is necessary to bring confidence back to a system that seems to oppress those disenfranchised communities it is meant to help the most. My heart goes out to the families of Mike Brown and victims throughout Ferguson,” said Co-Chair Antonio Reynoso.

“The heartbreaking decision by the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri resonates with everyone who believes in equality and justice,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Caucus Vice-Chair for Budget. “We still have a ways to go to ensure police accountability and the safety of the people the police are meant to protect. I commend the New Yorkers who led by example last night in a peaceful protest in Times Square.”

“‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, … and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity’ did establish this great nation. And yet, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said.  Justice was not served in Ferguson,” said Council Member Ben Kallos an attorney and Caucus Vice-Chair for Policy. “I stand with my colleagues, the city, and the nation in decrying the decision in Ferguson.”

“I’m both saddened and angered by the lack of justice for Mike Brown and for too many other young men of color – including Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Tamir Rice, whose lives were taken when deadly force was not needed,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Most officers work hard every day, with good intentions and without incident, risking their safety for ours. But when it’s consistently an African-American young man who is killed, when there is every reason to believe that deadly force is not necessary, when there’s so rarely accountability through the justice system, it is time for us to acknowledge the systemic impacts of race in how we police and do something about it. Here in NYC, we should use the remedial process coming out of the Floyd stop-and-frisk trial to address tensions between the NYPD and communities of color – including body-worn cameras, changing the tenor of most street interactions, and recommitting to community policing.”

“The grand jury decision regarding the shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown has left millions of Americans disgusted, angry, and wanting for justice,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “My heart goes out to the family of Michael Brown and I join them in calling for peace in the wake of the grand jury’s decision last night. We must take every action to rid our nation of institutionalized discrimination and to a future where the color of your skin doesn’t determine your relationship with those who are meant to protect and serve us.”

“The events which have transpired in Ferguson bring to mind an old quote: ‘A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect’,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, echoing a sentiment given by W.E.B. DuBois. “With this in mind, it is vital that we here in New York City continue to aspire towards a more just and understanding community. Together we can overcome the troubled dynamics which have plagued the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Michael Brown and the Ferguson community. We stand with the peaceful protesters calling for reform of the systemic issues plaguing our justice system,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

“Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Akai Gurley.  We must redouble our efforts to to make sure no other names are added to this terrible list by taking on the systemic problem of how young men of color are treated by law enforcement in America,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“I stand in solidarity with Michael Brown’s family, and am deeply disappointed by Monday’s grand jury decision. From New York City to Ferguson, too many young men of color have been harmed due to discriminatory and excessive policing. I hope this occasion compels an open an honest dialogue about what can be done to curb police misconduct and to restore trust between law enforcement and communities of color,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“The decision to not indict Officer Wilson in the fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man is disappointing, and a great injustice for Mike Brown, but also for the countless others who understand this as a dangerous precedent,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “Our work to humanize the lives of people of color, and to transform police relations with our communities, is far from over. My prayers, thoughts, and solidarity continue to be with Mike’s family, and with the City of Ferguson.”

“After hearing the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson, I am ashamed and afraid of the world I am handing off to my son. But just as it is the responsibility of our police force to protect everyone, it is the responsibility of citizens to engage in lawful protest. We must be indignant against racism, poverty and lack of education, not people—that only perpetuates violence. As a nation, we must do better,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

“First and foremost, my continued prayers for peace and comfort go to the family and friends of Michael Brown, as well as the parents of every child our nation has lost due to gun violence,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Co-Chair of the Council’s Taskforce to Combat Gun Violence. “As we learned about the grand jury’s decision, the results for most of us were not surprising, but disheartening nonetheless. It is my hope that elected officials in Missouri and across the country must advocate for a cultural-systemic shift within their police departments to reform the broken system that consistently targets men and women of more color. We all must sustain our unity and have our emotions fuel a relentless pursuit of reform. In 2014, it should not be this difficult, by virtually every single statistical metric, to be black in America.”

Founded in 2009, the Progressive Caucus has pioneered reform of criminal justice policies to emphasize prevention, alternatives-to-incarceration and partnership with communities.

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Williams, Gibson, & Elected Officials Respond to Resignation of NYPD Chief Banks

15701328711_4fbaf9e2b8_oPhotos by: William Alatriste

New York, NY: 11/3/14, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader and Chair of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee, and Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx), Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety, were joined by State Assemblyman Karim Camara, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, State Assemblyman Walter Mosley, members of the Council’s Black Latino and Asian Caucus and members of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, additional elected officials and advocacy groups during a press conference to voice their concern with the direction of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in light of Chief Philip Banks’ resignation, and called on the Administration to ensure that the needs of Black and Brown communities in New York City are not overlooked.

According to reports, Chief Banks reluctantly accepting a promotion to First Deputy Commissioner after threatening to resign amid ongoing friction over NYPD Commissioner William Bratton’s regime and the previous one under Ray Kelly. Banks’ resignation occurs nearly two months after the resignation of First Deputy Police Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, the highest-ranking Hispanic in the NYPD. Banks was promoted to Chief of Department in 2013 after a 28-year career with NYPD and was one of the highest ranking black law enforcement officials in New York City. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:

“Throughout Chief Banks’ tenure, his leadership has played a critical role in helping to navigate difficult relationships between NYPD and communities of more color as we attempted to deal with chronic issues in policing,” said Council Member Williams. “The resignation of the highest ranking Black and Latino officials in the department seems to provide a strong indication that much more work needs to be done within the NYPD. Ten months is not enough time to completely change a broken system, but it is enough time to see the direction being taken. I’m thankful that the Administration has shown a change in tone, willingness to listen and has taken identifiable steps toward change, but the time has come to move quicker from words to actions before the progress we’ve made is completely wiped away. “

“The resignation of the two top ranking minority officials Chief Banks and First Deputy Pineiro is a clear indication of departmental instability at a time when our communities need leadership in police reform,” said Councilmen Donovan Richards and Antonio Reynoso, Co-Chairs of the Progressive Caucus. “It is detrimental that Black and Latino representation is being compromised when diversity and cultural competence is at the very root of the discriminatory practices the NYPD is being held accountable to address.”

“Chief Phillip Banks’ resignation is particularly concerning in light of what appears to be disturbingly unequal law enforcement practices throughout the City. We should all have the expectation that no matter what street we are walking down, no matter what neighborhood we live in, no matter the color of our skin, the accent of our speech, or the clothing we wear – that we are all afforded the same respect, the same civil rights, and treated equally when dealing with the NYPD. Whether you live in my district on the UWS or CM Williams’ or CM Gibson’s district – the expectation of conduct by the police when interacting with each and every one of our citizens must be the same. I expect and we should accept nothing less – under any circumstances,” said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal. “Coming shortly on the heels of First Deputy Pineiro’s departure, Commissioner Bratton needs to take steps to assure all New Yorkers that day-to-day policing will adhere to standards of fairness and uniformity regardless of the borough and neighborhood where it takes place. Furthermore, the NYPD must be clear about whether or not NYPD First Deputy is a ceremonial position or not. If it is ceremonial, there is no reason that an experienced and trusted ‘boots-on-the-ground’ Chief should be asked to take that position.”

“We at the Council anxiously wait on information concerning Banks’ replacement,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “His successor should bring the same or a similar perspective to the NYPD and I call upon the administration to ensure that his replacement promotes the voice of New Yorkers of color. “

“I’m distressed by the resignation of Chief Banks, who was an important bridge between One Police Plaza and all of NYC’s communities, especially communities of color,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “This is a critical time for rebuilding bonds of trust between the NYPD and communities, based on principles of equal justice and safety for all New Yorkers. We must seize the opportunity created by the remedial process in the stop-and-frisk lawsuit, by the Community Safety Act, and by Mayor de Blasio’s election. And we must take a hard look at continuing problems with disparate marijuana arrests, broken windows enforcement, and use of force. I urge Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton to move forward courageously and inclusively to address the challenges facing the NYPD.”

IN THE NEWS

NYTimes: Politicians Show Frustration After a Police Chief’s Exit in New York

NY Observer: Minority Police Groups Blame Bratton for Banks’ Departure

New York’s PIX11: Public officials concerned about lack of NYPD minority leadership

CBS Local City: Council Members Voice Concerns Over Police Chief’s Resignation

NY Post: Minority leaders blast de Blasio over NYPD upheaval

Jamaica Observer: Grenadian/American legislator outraged over resignation of black NYDP chief

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