We are now a month into Flyod v. City of New York, the federal class action law suit filed against the NYPD that claims they engaged in racial profiling and uncalled for stop and frisks on law-abiding New Yorkers – and the impact that stop and frisk practices have on African-American and Latino communities is more prevalent than ever. Mott Haven’s 40th precinct has one of the highest rates of stop and frisk in the city.
This evening, Melissa will be at aTown Hall meeting in the Bronx that she is co-sponsoring, demanding there be an end to discriminatory NYPD practices and calling for a more effective approach to community safety and the passage of the Community Safety Act. It’s time that the NYPD takes accountability for their actions. The Bronx Defenders and the Vacamas Programs for Youth will be hosting tonight’s meeting.
In the wake of last week’s tragic accident that resulted in the death of a 6-year-old boy named Amar Diarrassouba, it is imperative that we address and correct the causes of this tragedy to ensure that an accident like this does not happen again in our district. Melissa, along with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, held a press conference outside of Diarrassouba’s school. They called on the DOT and NYPD to take a zero tolerance measure against large trucks on non-designated streets, such as the narrow, one-way residential East 117th Street towards First Avenue, where the accident occurred; and to address the possible need for additional crossing guards at busier intersections.
Following the press conference, Melissa wrote to Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan of the DOT and Commissioner Ray Kelly of the NYPD, to open up conversation about traffic enforcement and to make some requests. Please find the letters below. We will make sure to keep you updated on our further collaborative work with the DOT and NYPD on this matter.
We are happy to announce that two bills sponsored by Melissa will be passed by Council tomorrow.
STREET VENDOR BILLS (INTRO 16)
Intro 16 will require the reporting of data related to vendor licenses and permits, as well as the outcomes of vendor adjudications. This bill is integral to the future of the reforming vendor policy in NYC because of the information collected. In addition to Intro 16, Council Member Steve Levin’s bill, Intro 434, which Melissa has supported, will also be passed tomorrow. Intro 434 will cap the maximum fine at $500 and reform the unfair escalation of fines. These bills are a critical first step towards efforts to provide greater support to our vendor community who has played an essential part of the fabric of NYC life for generations. Today, punitive fines leveraged against vendors can easily add up into the thousands, making it nearly impossible for vendors to make a living.
“Our city needs to support and not criminalize our hardworking street vendors,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am proud that the Council is taking a stand to lower the punitive fines that make it difficult for vendors to earn a living and I thank the Street vendor project for their incredible advocacy. Under the bill I am sponsoring, the Council will receive annual reports on vending licenses and fines. My hope is that this data will help inform future policy changes to our city’s vending system. I thank Speaker Quinn, Council Member Levin and Chair Koslowitz for their leadership and support.”
SECURE COMMUNITIES/ICE BILL (INTRO 989)
We’ve previously discussed our objection to Secure Communities in this blog. Melissa’s Intro 989 amends current law to ensure that immigrants that pose no danger cannot be detained by the Department of Correction. Intro 982, sponsored by Speaker Quinn and co-sponsored by Melissa, focuses on being detained by the NYPD. Whether we like it or not, we are still in the secure communities program. But with this legislation, we will not use our personnel or resources to hold immigrants that pose no danger to our city.
“Today, the Council reaffirms its commitment to protecting our immigrant communities,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We will not allow our city’s resources to be used to facilitate the unjust deportations of hardworking New Yorkers that pose no threat to public safety. These pieces of legislation place limits on our city’s collaboration with the Secure Communities enforcement program, as we await Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I thank Speaker Quinn and Chair Dromm for their leadership on bringing this legislation forward, as well as the Bloomberg administration for their support. I also thank Make the Road New York and the Cardozo Law School for being a critical driving force in passing these important bills.”
Melissa released the following response to the Mayor’s comments on marijuana arrest policy and stop and frisk:
“In today’s State of the City Address, Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to change the city’s marijuana arrest policy while we await action by the State Legislature to finally decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in public view. Under the new policy, anyone who is able to present identification and clear a warrant check will be released with a desk appearance ticket, rather than being held in custody overnight.
“This policy shift is greatly encouraging and a step in the right direction. I thank Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly for recognizing the fundamental problem with the city’s marijuana arrest policy, which has resulted in record numbers of arrests – up to around 50,000 per year – of mostly black and Latino males. The way the city has carried out this policy in recent years is a corruption of the intent of state law, which decriminalized small amounts of marijuana decades ago. I still recall a time when we were not seeing this level of openness within the administration and the NYPD to look at what the City could do to reduce the number of marijuana arrests. I also thank the Drug Policy Alliance, VOCAL-NY and all of the advocates who have brought this issue to the forefront, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for this change at the state level to completely end small-time marijuana arrests.
“In spite of the welcome news on marijuana arrests, I was disappointed by the Mayor’s delusional defense of the city’s stop and frisk policy. The suggestion that without our current stop and frisk policy New York’s murder rate would equal Detroit’s is absurd and unfounded. It is time to stop irresponsibly cultivating fear as a way of drumming up support for this policy, which has damaged community-police relations and has made our young black and Latino men feel more alienated than ever.”
The State of the City Address doesn’t begin until around the 35-minute mark.
Please join us tonight, Tuesday, February 5th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM for a Know Your Rights! training that will be hosted by Picture the Homeless. Here, you will learn your rights with the NYPD and how to exercise those rights as safely as possible. We will also be holding a Cop Watch! training next Tuesday, February 12th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, hosted by the Justice Committee. At this training, we will learn how to observe and document police activity in your neighborhood. The ultimate goal of these trainings are to help end discriminatory policing – we believe in standing up and being a part of the solution.
On Thursday, January 17th, Melissa will be co-sponsoring a town hall event about discriminatory policing with the Justice Committee. At “East Harlem Stand Up!”, community members will be encouraged to speak out against the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk policy, and the program will also include Know Your Rights training and a discussion of the Community Safety Act which Melissa is co-sponsoring. East Harlem is disproportionately impacted by this policy, with the highest number of stops in Manhattan.
WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, The Bronx Defenders, Picture the Homeless, and the Justice Committee WHAT: Town Hall on Discriminatory Policing WHEN: Thursday, January 17th, 6:30 – 8:30 PM WHERE: Taino Towers in the Crystal Room – 240 East 123rd Street * For more information, call 347-676-1878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org * Spanish translation, childcare and free food will be provided!
Melissa, along with the Progressive Caucus and many members of the City Council, believe that there is a need for more police accountability in New York City. Progressive Caucus Member Jumaane Williams, with the support of the Progressive Caucus, is sponsoring four bills that collectively make up the Community Safety Act.
The Community Safety Act includes the following:
Int 0799-2012: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring law enforcement officers to provide notice and obtain proof of consent to search individuals.
Int 0800-2012: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to prohibiting bias-based profiling by law enforcement officers.
Int 0801-2012: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York in relation to requiring law enforcement officers to identify themselves to the public.
Int 0881-2012: A Local Law to amend the New York city charter, in relation to establishing an office of the inspector general for the New York city police department.
Following the recent disturbing, violent attacks towards women in our parks, Melissa, along with Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Council Members Gale A. Brewer and Jessica Lappin, will be sponsoring a Free Self-Defense Training run by The Center for Anti-Violence Education. This workshop is open to all over the age of 13, including seniors, although it is geared towards women and the LGBT community. Here’s your chance to learn how to defend yourself – RSVP today & make sure to wear comfortable clothes!
WHAT: FREE Self-Defense Training Workshop WHEN: Sunday, October 7th, 2012 from 2 – 4 PM WHERE: North Meadow Recreation Center in Central Park (Mid-Park at 97th Street) RSVP: email@example.com or 212.788.6871