Activists outline plan for police accountability

Kirsten John Foy of the Public Advocate’s Office (left) and Councilman Jumanne Williams at a news conference held after the original arrest on Labor Day.
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Photo by Tequila Minsky

A meeting co-convened by several activist organizations and leaders met Thursday, Sept. 29, in Manhattan to develop a strategy to determine the next steps in the police accountability movement.

The meeting was specifically triggered by the arrest on Labor Day of Councilman Jumanne Williams and Kirsten John Foy of the Public Advocate’s Office, who, after having passed two police checkpoints at the West Indian Day Parade, were arrested in a “frozen zone,” even after showing their official city-issued identification. They are now dubbed the “Labor Day 2.”

The two, among many others, have previously been vocal against the stop-and-frisk tactics of the police department, which particularly impacts young men of color. The evening meeting’s agenda focused on tackling some of the pervasive problems that face communities of more color, particularly this issue.

John Foy released the joint statement regarding the strategy meeting convened by New York City leaders to determine the next steps in the police accountability movement.

He said, “We had a productive conversation focusing on strategies to tackle the problems with this city’s police culture together as a broad coalition of voices. This is the beginning of our involvement in a longer effort to organize New Yorkers around the police accountability movement.”

A series of short and long-term goals were formulated. Foy and Williams are looking for a public apology and reprimand regarding the incident at the West Indian Day Parade.

Foy emphasized that, from the beginning, “This is not about justice for either of us, but rather justice for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers that have been discriminated against by this police culture. We are still seeking a meeting with Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly and young Black and Latino New Yorkers that have been affected by unfair policing tactics.”

There are plans to have town hall-style meetings in each of the five boroughs to give affected New Yorkers a chance to come forward and have their stories on the record. Additionally, the movement leaders are looking for the Department of Education to mandate “Know Your Rights” training in middle and high schools.

Foy reiterated, “This is a fight for civil rights, and we are hopeful that civil rights will ultimately prevail.”

The meeting was co-convened by the National Action Network, the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic Legislative Caucus Chair Assembly Member Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn), Make the Road New York and the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Council Member Williams and Mr. Foy.

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