As temperatures get heated for the summer, so were hundreds of New Yorkers across the city on the steps of City Hall on Monday June 24, urging their City Council legislators to pass two key bills of the Community Safety Act, that will directly reform the way police conduct their stops.
These two bills: the End NYPD Discriminatory Profiling Act (Intro. 1080) will ban discriminatory profiling that is based on race, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, disability or housing status and the Independent NYPD Oversight Act (Intro 1079) ask to create an office of the Inspector General who will oversee the NYPD.
The rally had scores of community activists from religious, LGBTQ, and local grassroots civil rights movement groups, and was led by Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, co-vice-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus for the New York City Council. Williams, who is also the main sponsor of the Community Safety Act, said he expect to have a vote on Wednesday June 26 or Thursday June 27 to have both bills passed by the New York City Council. A discharge vote was done after the rally on Monday morning.
This discharge was an attempt by Williams and fellow Brooklyn Councilman Brad Landers who co-sponsored the bill, to resist Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., Chair of the Public Safety committee who stands in opposition and refused to bring the bills to a vote because it will allow New Yorkers to sue the NYPD.
Donna Lieberman executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union who strongly opposed the NYPD controversial Stop and Frisk policy, said she believes that the bill will be passed.
“There is no question about whether the bill will be passed by the council, because there has been a huge majority of support,” said Lieberman.
She further went on to say, “The real question is that because this mayor is stubborn and has a tenure for the massive community outcry against this abuse; is whether he is going to veto the bill, which requires a supermajority of the council. That is what we’re working on now,” said Lieberman.
Williams said he has the support of his colleagues in the council, and is sure that the bill will be passed as well.
“We have enough support in City Council so we can pass this legislation,” said Williams. “We also anticipate an override and we will get pass the override as well.”
Among the hundreds of New Yorkers was Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society, who said he supports the Community Safety Act. He said his staff have handled more than three hundred thousand of legal defence, juvenile matters and civil rights cases.
“Everyday we [my staff] see the impact of the policies that this legislation designed to stop,” said Banks. “It’s time to stop leaving New Yorkers with indelible scars being run through the criminal justice for no reason. This type of policing has to stop and this legislation will help to do that.”
Banks later asserted that “the F.B.I., C.I.A., the New York Fire Department and the Los Angeles Police Department all have an Inspector General, so what about the NYPD?” he asked. This legislation ask for an Inspector General just like any other city agency.”
When the Community Safety Act was proposed at the council’s first hearing in Oct. 11 last year, neither Bloomberg nor Police Commissioner Ray Kelly were present, although they were invited, according to published reports.
Both have publicly opposed the idea of having an inspector general that will oversee the actions of the NYPD. According to the New York Times, Bloomberg said there is no need for such an office in New York because crime is at an all-time low and the department is working well under its current leadership.
In his belief, Williams said the reason why Bloomberg opposed the legislation is because he [Bloomberg] thinks it is a threat to his legacy as mayor. “That’s the only believe I have” he said.
According to published reports, City Council speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn supports Intro 1079, but not Intro 1080 that ask for an Inspector General. Nevertheless, she will bring the legislation to floor after it is discharged and also vote to have into law reports said.