Earlier this month, New York City Council Member Erik Dilan, whose council district includes parts of Bushwick, held a press conference to announce his strong commitment to the Community Safety Act. This act addresses racial profiling by the NYPD. We recently informed you that because both of the bills comprising the act were vetoed by Mayor Bloomberg in July, the Community Safety Act will have to be voted on by the City Council again with a veto-proof majority (at least 34 votes) on Thursday, August 22, in order for the bills to pass.
For Bushwick, which is prime “stop-and-frisk” territory, the Community Safety Act would change a lot. Justin Serrano, 18, said, “As a young person from the district who has been stopped and frisked many times, I thank CM Erik Dilan for holding his ground on the Community Safety Act…Council Member Dilan understands that dignity and respect don’t have to be lost to maintain safe streets.”
The Community Safety Act includes basic reforms of the NYPD that are meant to counter racial profiling in the city. It involves appointing an inspector general who would be able to oversee the police department and make recommendations. It also says you can’t be targeted or profiled based solely on certain characteristics, such as sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability and immigration status. This reform expands on our current anti-discrimination law that bans discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity. Furthermore, New Yorkers who feel they have been unjustly targeted by the NYPD would be able to bring intentional discrimination claims to court (although they won’t be able to sue for money).
Although there were suspicions about whether Mayor Bloomberg was going to use his influence to persuade council members (specifically, Erik Dilan) to vote differently, Dilan spoke out with Jumaane Williams and other community members, including representatives of Make The Road New York, and declared his strong support for the Community Safety Act. At the press conference on August 8, Erik Dilan said, “It is my hope that these bills would increase police accountability and improve police-community relations” after expressing his intent to once again vote yes for both bills.
On August 12, federal judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in the Floyd, et al case that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program is “a policy of indirect racial profiling” and is unconstitutional. She called for an independent monitor to bring reforms to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. Despite this ruling, the Community Safety Act is still necessary. For one, monitors appointed due to case verdicts are usually not permanent. The Community Safety Act will enact two permanent laws to address the discriminatory policing in New York City. With Intro 1080, specifically (the racial profiling bill that extends rights to LGBT, immigrants and other communities), the act goes way further than just the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. Many communities in the city experience racial and gender-based profiling outside of the stop-and-frisk program, such as the transgender communities who were targeted and charged with prostitution for carrying condoms. Although the federal-appointed monitor called for by Judge Scheindlin can help bring about change, the Community Safety Act is one necessary step further.
The Community Safety Act will be voted on this Thursday, which means we have four days to call our city council members and ask for their support.
You can find your city council member and their contact information here.
Or, for even greater impact, you can call or email the council members who voted “no” the first time around.