The New York City Council has scheduled hearings on Oct. 10, to be followed by field hearings in Brooklyn and Queens, over the vexed question of police discrimination in the enforcement of the Community Safety Act and the NYPD’s stop and frisk program.
Fed-up with NYPD’s stop and frisk methods, social justice organizations, union members, youth, the elderly and activists of all backgrounds and hues, convened at the foot of City Hall Park Thursday, Sept. 27 to show their support for the Community Safety Act -- pending legislation in the New York City Council to combat police discrimination.
Demonstrators held up signs that read: Support and Respect our Youth, NYPD Keep Your Hands Off of Me, and Pass the Community Safety Act -- Text: “justice” 877877. They chanted: “No justice, no peace!” responding to a varied array of supportive speakers.
Among the City Council members who have signed on in support of the bills are Letitia James and Brad Lander from Brooklyn, Melissa Mark-Viverito from Manhattan, and Daniel Dromm from Queens spoke at the rally, joining Jumaane Williams who is spearheading passage of the Community Safety Act.
“The Community Safety Act is an important set of reform that will lead to better policy and safer streets for all,” Williams, himself subject to racial profiling said, repeating his message that he is not anti-police. “We can achieve better policing and safer streets in our city simultaneously.”
Legislation pending in City Council consists of four bills aimed at protecting against unlawful searches, creating a strong ban on profiling by the NYPD, and requiring NYPD officers to identify themselves and explain their actions. It also seeks to establish an inspector general for NYPD oversight.
“Stop and frisk is illegal, unethical, ineffective and gives license for officers to harass and intimidate black and brown youth,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said, framed his words carefully. “Our children should not have to fear both robbers and cops.”
Brooklyn-born rapper Talib Kweli was among those representing youth-those who are particularly impacted by the police stop-and-frisk policies. “We want guns and violence to stop. We are pro-community; we are pro people. We are not anti-police.” He asked, “Are getting guns off the streets worth sacrificing the relationship with the police?”
Later during the rally, rapper Jasiri X, who traveled from Pittsburg, sang “10 Frisk Commandments” a play on Notorious B.I.G.’s “10 Crack Commandments.”
Tamika D. Malloy, executive director of National Action Network, slammed the system, where, “Brothers and sisters are treated less than human …Let’s continue to fight together!” she said.