Melissa Mourns the Loss of Tato Laviera

“I am truly saddened to hear about Tato Laviera’s untimely passing. Tato was one of our most prominent Nuyorcian poets and novelists — a tremendously gifted, inspired artist.

“His beautiful words, which flowed swiftly between Spanish, English and Spanglish, chronicled the experience of millions of Puerto Ricans who have migrated to and grew up in the states. His love for my community of El Barrio could be felt in every verse he wrote.

“In the final years of his life, Tato suffered from health problems and endured homelessness. However, nothing could break his spirit.

“We as a community will find the appropriate way to pay tribute to his life and work. Que en paz descanse.”

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Witness History: Watch the Passage of the Community Safety Act

Last night, in a historic City Council session, we not only adopted the Fiscal Year 2014 budget (more on that soon!) and overrode a mayoral veto on the Earned Sick Time Act, but we also passed the Community Safety Act with a veto proof majority. In a meeting that extended past 2:00 a.m., legislation that would create an Inspector General for the NYPD and add teeth to the city’s ban on bias-based profiling, passed with the 34 votes needed to override the mayor’s expected veto. Melissa joined lead sponsors Council Members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander in co-sponsoring both pieces of legislation.

Click here to watch the three-hour video, but feel free to skip ahead to the 44:30 mark to watch one of Melissa’s floor speeches from last night.

These bills came out of a sustained grassroots movement in response to the city’s overzealous stop and frisk policy, and could help make a real difference in combating unjust police practices at a more systemic level.

Melissa Mark-Viverito Community Safety Act

Melissa Releases Statement on the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center

“The Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center is among El Barrio’s most precious cultural resources. In seeking a new operator of the space, the intention has been to completely re-activate the Center and ensure that it receives the investment it needs to be preserved for the future. However, the City still has not arrived at a final agreement with the new operators of the Center: a coalition of Puerto Rican-led groups with the Hispanic Federation serving as fiscal conduit. During this long transition period, these vital spaces have unfortunately been without programming.

“I share my community’s frustration with this extensive delay, which was caused by a combination of our city’s typical bureaucratic processes, the impact of Hurricane Sandy and changes of leadership at both the city’s Economic Development Corporation and the Hispanic Federation. Both parties are nearing a final lease agreement, and critical capital upgrades funded by my office will soon commence.

“I could not be more confident in the vision and capacity of the Julia de Burgos Arts Alliance, with the assistance of Hispanic Federation, to fully activate this Center, as was intended in its founding. And I remain committed to securing additional capital resources for the Center.

“However, in the meantime, I have proposed to the City’s Economic Development Corporation that we immediately develop a mechanism for cultural groups to rent out the spaces at Julia de Burgos during this interim period, and EDC has agreed to make the space available to rent to local organizations. I expect more details to be available in the next week.”

Melissa Hosts “Beyond Bullets” Media Arts Workshop, Tomorrow

Melissa will host the second in a series of media arts workshops with Downtown Community Television (DCTV) in East Harlem on Friday, based around DCTV’s Beyond Bullets documentary. These workshops, which will be held at local youth organizations, help facilitate discussions on gun violence in the community. The workshops include a short screening of the film and a discussion that covers topics ranging from gun laws, police-community relations and community solutions for violence. The first workshop in this series was held on Thursday at Harlem RBI and a third workshop will take place at Peace on the Street in East Harlem. There is also plans for one in the Mott Haven area in the coming weeks. We hope to see you there!

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WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and DCTV
WHAT: Beyond Bullets Media Arts Workshops
WHEN: Friday, June 14, 2013, 10:30 AM
WHERE: Youth Build, 206-08 East 118th Street, East Harlem