Families of Eric Garner, George Floyd, and Gary Hopkins came together on the steps of City Hall on Thursday, March 9, when members of the Mothers of the Movement, a group of women whose African American children have been killed by police officers or by gun violence, rallied against racism, inequity, and policies targeting people of color. 

The mothers and families are pleading with Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and asking New York legislators not to support a ban that will increase both smoking and crime. 

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a necessary, bold, and comprehensive approach to holding police accountable, ending racial profiling, changing the culture of law enforcement, empowering our communities, and building trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. Our communities need this. 

As proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York City Council, the menthol cigarette ban is not an education-first approach. The prohibition will increase crime and negative interactions between law enforcement and communities of color. In addition, a new 2023 study of a similar Massachusetts menthol ban found that it led to a “58.6% relative increase in smoking among [B]lack women; the menthol cigarette ban led to a net increase in smoking among [B]lack adults,” according to JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine.

“Our communities need reform and education, not racial profiling and increased police interaction. When women and activists stand together, systems change, and barriers are dismantled,” said Gwen Carr. “Our elected officials must pass legislation that helps heal and to do better for our communities.”

The rally followed an Eliminating Racism & Inequality Collective (E.r.i.c.) Initiative Foundation retreat hosted by Carr before the foundation’s annual New York philanthropy event on September 16, 2023. The foundation is in honor of her son and is dedicated to youth empowerment and education. 

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