Safety first
La seguridad ante todo

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Safety first Policing bills pass in the Council

Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer

On Wed., Jun. 26th, the New York City Council passed two bills, collectively called the Community Safety Act, prompting a firestorm of controversy. One of the bills (Intro. 1079) mandates that the city appoint an Inspector General to oversee the New York Police Department as a means to increase oversight and the second, and the second (Intro. 1080) bans officers from relying on race, sex, age, religion, ethnicity and other factors as a probable cause for police action and stop-and-frisk.

Supporters of the Community Safety Act gathered outside City Hall before the vote.

Supporters of the Community Safety Act gathered outside City Hall before the vote.
Photo by Robin Elizabeth Kilmer

The first bill passed 40 votes to 11, and the second 34 votes to 17.

The number of votes in favor of the bills virtually ensured an override in light of the expected veto from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been sharply critical of them both.

The vote came after the passage of the city budget, in the wee hours of the night.

Despite the late hour, most Councilmembers opted to explain their vote, highlighting the bills’ significance.

“Today is the result of decades of civil rights advocacy from historically disenfranchised communities that seek equality in justice, equality in security and equality in law enforcement,” said Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who, together with Councilmember Brad Lander, was a lead sponsor of the bills.

Ahead of the vote, various groups converged on the steps of City Hall; among them were the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Picture the Homeless, and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ).

They stressed the need for the Safe Communities Act, citing the 600 percent increase in the use of stop-and-frisk during Mayor Bloomberg’s administration and the Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

90 percent of those stopped are young black and Latino males.

“No one in this city, where the Statue of Liberty stands, should anyone be afraid to walk these streets because of the color of their skin,” said Hazel Dukes, the president of the New York Conference of the NAACP.

“Our idea of better policing is a better relationship. Our youth should be respected as people, not as criminals,” argued Kendall Lewis of YMPJ, a Bronx-based organization.

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“Today is the result of decades of civil rights advocacy from historically disenfranchised communities,” said Councilmember Jumaane Williams, the bills’ lead sponsor.
Photo by Robin Elizabeth Kilmer

“Homeless people live on the streets, and that is where the police work, so homeless people, through no fault of their own, interact with the police more than anybody,” said Gene Rice, the head of Picture the Homeless, a homeless advocacy group.

Due to increased interaction, the homeless are increasingly harassed by the police, he argued.

He was glad that action was taken to increase protections against police bias, but he is hoping the fight could be taken to a national level.

Terry v. Ohio is the 1968 legislation that legitimizes stop-and-frisk policies in the United States.

“Much to my dismay, it is absent from this discussion,” said Rice.

Still, the passage of the bills angered the Mayor, who called the legislation “horrendous” and has vowed to veto them.

But they are a step in the right direction, insist others.

Frank Antonio López said he will feel more comfortable walking the streets of the city as a result of the legislation.

López, a Bronx community organizer, has himself been stopped and frisked three times.

He said that stop-and-frisk policies are against the Fourth Amendment,which protects against unlawful searches and seizures, and believes an Inspector General will help enforce the rules.

“It’s about accountability, and establishing a legitimate relationship between cops and the community,” he said.

And for López, it was personal.

“I hope to have a better relationship with the police.”

Endorsers of the Community Safety Act:

  • 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
  • 5 Borough Defenders
  • A Call to Men
  • Adhikaar for Human Rights
  • After Hours Project, Inc.
  • Amnesty International USA
  • Arab American Association of New York
  • Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
  • Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
  • Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
  • Audre Lorde Project
  • BAYAN-USA
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Black Women’s Blueprint
  • Bronx Defenders*
  • Brooklyn Community Pride Center
  • Brooklyn Movement Center
  • Brotherhood/Sister Sol
  • CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
  • Campaign to Stop the False Arrests
  • Center for Anti-Violence Education
  • Center for Community Alternatives
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Center on Race, Crime & Justice of John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Chhaya CDC
  • Child Welfare Organizing Project
  • Children’s Defense Fund of New York
  • The Clergy Campaign for Social & Economic Justice
  • Coalition for the Homeless
  • Color of Change
  • Community Service Society
  • Community Voices Heard
  • Council on American Islamic Relations-New York
  • Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility
  • Criminal Justice Clinic at Pace Law School
  • Damayan Migrant Workers Association
  • Day One
  • Desis Rising Up & Moving
  • Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York
  • Drug Policy Alliance
  • El Puente
  • Families Against Stop & Frisk
  • Families for Freedom
  • FIERCE
  • The Fortune Society
  • The Game Changers Project
  • Gay Men of African Descent
  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis • Girls for Gender Equity
  • HAMS Harm Reduction Network
  • Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Immigrant Defense Project
  • Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness
  • Jews Against Islamophobia
  • Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
  • Justice Committee
  • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement – NYC
  • Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn • Latino Commission on AIDS
  • LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Legal Action Center
  • Legal Aid Society
  • Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center
  • Make the Road NY
  • Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
  • Manhattan Young Democrats
  • Marijuana Arrests Research Project
  • Metropolitan Community Church of New York
  • MCCNY Charities, Inc.
  • NAACP-Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • National Action Network
  • New York City Anti-Violence Project
  • New York Civil Liberties Union
  • New York Harm Reduction Educators
  • Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  • NY Communities for Change
  • Peoples’ Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability
  • Persist Health Project
  • Picture the Homeless
  • PROS Network
  • Public Science Project
  • Queers for Economic Justice
  • Red Umbrella Project
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York
  • RightRides for Women’s Safety
  • SEIU 32BJ
  • Sistas & Brothas United/ Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
  • Streetwise & Safe • St. Anne’s Corner of Harm Reduction
  • Sylvia Rivera Law Project
  • Tribeca for Change
  • Trinity Lutheran Church
  • T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
  • Turning Point for Women and Families
  • UPROSE
  • VAMOS Unidos
  • VOCAL-NY
  • Washington Heights CORNER Project
  • Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice
  • Youth Represent

La seguridad ante todo Se aprueban proyectos de ley policiales

Historia por Robin Elisabeth Kilmer

Provocando una gran controversia, el miércoles 26 de junio el Concejo de la ciudad de Nueva York aprobó dos proyectos de ley de manera colectiva, llamados Ley de Seguridad de la Comunidad. Uno de los proyectos de ley obliga a que la ciudad designe un inspector general para supervisar al Departamento de Policía de Nueva York (Intro. 1079), y el segundo, prohíbe a los oficiales basarse en la raza, sexo, edad, religión, etnia y otros factores como causa probable de acción policial y de detención y cateo (Intro. 1080).

El primer proyecto fue aprobado por 40 votos contra 11, y el segundo 34 votos contra 17.

Presidente de LatinoJustice PRLDEF Juan Cartagena. Foto por Robin Elizabeth Kilmer

Presidente de LatinoJustice PRLDEF Juan Cartagena.
Foto por Robin Elizabeth Kilmer

La votación se produjo después de la aprobación del presupuesto de la ciudad, en las primeras horas de la noche.

A pesar de la hora tardía, la mayoría de los concejales optaron por explicar su voto, destacando la importancia de los proyectos de ley.

“Hoy es el resultado de décadas de defensa de los derechos civiles de las comunidades históricamente marginadas que buscan igualdad en la justicia, igualdad en la seguridad y la igualdad en la aplicación de la ley”, dijo el concejal Jumaane Williams, quien, junto con el concejal Brad Lander, fueron los patrocinadores principales de las leyes.

Antes de la votación, varios grupos se reunieron en las escalinatas del ayuntamiento, entre ellos la Asociación Nacional para el Progreso de la Gente de Color (NAACP por sus siglas en inglés), Picture the Homeless y Ministerios Juveniles para la Paz y la Justicia (YMPJ por sus siglas en inglés).

Hicieron hincapié en la necesidad de la Ley de Comunidades Seguras, citando el aumento del 600% en la utilización de las detenciones y cateos durante la administración del alcalde Bloomberg y el comisionado de la Policía Ray Kelly.

El 90% de las personas detenidas eran jóvenes negros y latinos.

“Nadie en esta ciudad, donde la Estatua de la Libertad se encuentra, ninguna persona debe tener miedo de caminar por estas calles a causa del color de su piel”, dijo Hazel Dukes, presidente de la Conferencia de Nueva York de la NAACP.

Nuestros jóvenes deben ser respetados como personas, no como criminales", sostuvo Kendall Lewis de YMPJ.

Nuestros jóvenes deben ser respetados como personas, no como criminales”, sostuvo Kendall Lewis de YMPJ.

“Nuestra idea de una mejor actuación policial es una mejor relación. Nuestros jóvenes deben ser respetados como personas, no como criminales “, sostuvo Kendall Lewis de YMPJ, una organización del Bronx.

“Las personas sin hogar viven en las calles y ahí es donde la policía trabaja, entonces las personas sin hogar, por causas ajenas a ellas, interactúan con la policía más que nadie”, dijo Gene Rice, el jefe de Picture the Homeless, un grupo de defensa para las personas sin hogar.

Debido al aumento de la interacción, las personas sin hogar son acosadas cada vez más por la policía, dijo Rice.

Rice se alegró de que se tomaron medidas para aumentar la protección contra el sesgo policial, pero se espera que la lucha pueda ser llevada a un nivel nacional.

Terry v Ohio es la legislación de 1968 que legitimiza las políticas de detención y cateo en los Estados Unidos.

“Muy a mi pesar, está ausente de este debate”, dijo Rice.

Sin embargo, la aprobación de los proyectos de ley enfureció al Alcalde, quien llamó a la legislación “horrenda” y ha prometido vetarla.

Sin embargo, son un paso en la dirección correcta, insisten otros.

Frank Antonio López dijo que, como consecuencia de la legislación, él se sentirá más cómodo caminando por las calles de la ciudad.

López, organizador de la comunidad del Bronx, ha sido él mismo detenido y cacheado tres veces.

Dijo que las políticas de detención y cateo están en contra de la Cuarta Enmienda, que protege contra registros e incautaciones ilegales, y considera que un Inspector General ayudará a hacer cumplir las reglas.

“Se trata de la rendición de cuentas y de establecer una relación legítima entre policías y la comunidad”, dijo.

Y lo tomó personal.

“Espero tener una mejor relación con la policía”.

Promotores de la Ley de Seguridad de la Comunidad:

  • 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
  • 5 Borough Defenders
  • A Call to Men
  • Adhikaar for Human Rights
  • After Hours Project, Inc.
  • Amnesty International USA
  • Arab American Association of New York
  • Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
  • Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
  • Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
  • Audre Lorde Project
  • BAYAN-USA
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Black Women’s Blueprint
  • Bronx Defenders*
  • Brooklyn Community Pride Center
  • Brooklyn Movement Center
  • Brotherhood/Sister Sol
  • CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
  • Campaign to Stop the False Arrests
  • Center for Anti-Violence Education
  • Center for Community Alternatives
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Center on Race, Crime & Justice of John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Chhaya CDC
  • Child Welfare Organizing Project
  • Children’s Defense Fund of New York
  • The Clergy Campaign for Social & Economic Justice
  • Coalition for the Homeless
  • Color of Change
  • Community Service Society
  • Community Voices Heard
  • Council on American Islamic Relations-New York
  • Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility
  • Criminal Justice Clinic at Pace Law School
  • Damayan Migrant Workers Association
  • Day One
  • Desis Rising Up & Moving
  • Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York
  • Drug Policy Alliance
  • El Puente
  • Families Against Stop & Frisk
  • Families for Freedom
  • FIERCE
  • The Fortune Society
  • The Game Changers Project
  • Gay Men of African Descent
  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis
  • Girls for Gender Equity
  • HAMS Harm Reduction Network
  • Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Immigrant Defense Project
  • Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness
  • Jews Against Islamophobia
  • Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
  • Justice Committee
  • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement – NYC
  • Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn
  • Latino Commission on AIDS
  • LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Legal Action Center
  • Legal Aid Society
  • Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center
  • Make the Road NY
  • Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
  • Manhattan Young Democrats
  • Marijuana Arrests Research Project
  • Metropolitan Community Church of New York
  • MCCNY Charities, Inc.
  • NAACP-Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • National Action Network
  • New York City Anti-Violence Project
  • New York Civil Liberties Union
  • New York Harm Reduction Educators
  • Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  • NY Communities for Change
  • Peoples’ Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability
  • Persist Health Project
  • Picture the Homeless
  • PROS Network
  • Public Science Project
  • Queers for Economic Justice
  • Red Umbrella Project
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York
  • RightRides for Women’s Safety
  • SEIU 32BJ
  • Sistas & Brothas United/ Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
  • Streetwise & Safe • St. Anne’s Corner of Harm Reduction
  • Sylvia Rivera Law Project
  • Tribeca for Change
  • Trinity Lutheran Church
  • T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
  • Turning Point for Women and Families
  • UPROSE
  • VAMOS Unidos
  • VOCAL-NY
  • Washington Heights CORNER Project
  • Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice
  • Youth Represent