Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has received endorsements from three of central Brooklyn’s key state officials.
The Puerto Rican-born Gonzalez said Assembly Members Rodneyse Bichotte (42nd AD), Tremaine Wright (56th AD) and Latrice Walker (55th AD) have thrown their support behind him, citing his progressive reforms that protect Brooklyn’s immigrant communities, children and quality of life.
The three state officials represent the central Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Flatbush and more.
“Immigrant Brooklynites are our neighbors. DA Gonzalez understands this,” said Bichotte, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District.
“In the short time that he has been leading the district attorney’s office, Eric has addressed the concerns of the diverse immigrant communities of Brooklyn by opposing the Trump administration’s harmful proposals that can, at the very least, disrupt the daily life of some Brooklynites and at worst, break up families,” she added. “I am delighted to put my support behind Eric. He will sincerely continue to address issues that our immigrant communities are facing in Brooklyn.”
Last month, Gonzalez said he implemented a new immigration policy that seeks equal and fair justice for all Brooklyn residents, including the foreign-born.
Gonzalez hired full-time immigration lawyers to work with the assistant district attorneys to evaluate the unintended consequences of a plea, and train them to try to avoid giving someone the conviction that will get them deported.
“Brooklyn has made great strides forward in recent years, and Eric Gonzalez will continue that progress,” Wright said. “He has shown that he knows how to make Brooklyn safer, while making our criminal justice system fairer. I strongly support the reforms he’s implemented in the district attorney’s office and believe he is the best choice to move Brooklyn forward.”
In Brooklyn, studies have shown that black people were nine times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite the fact that there is virtually no racial disparity in marijuana use, according to Gonzalez.
“The human toll of these policies cannot be understated, as a criminal conviction serves as a lifelong impediment when it comes to education, housing and employment,” he said.
In 2014, then-Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson made New York history by announcing that the Brooklyn DA’s office would no longer prosecute cases involving the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
This policy, which Gonzalez said he wrote and implemented, was “a commonsense step forward for law enforcement in Brooklyn by freeing up police officers and prosecutors to focus on serious threats to public safety.”
“Eric has shown his deep commitment to reforming our criminal justice system,” Walker said. “His initiatives to keep young people out of prison and reduce the reliance on bail are innovative and important steps that address our mass incarceration problem. I know that he will work every day to ensure equal justice for the people of Brooklyn.”
Gonzalez said he developed the Young Adult Court, a ground-breaking initiative that handles cases of young people up to the age of 24 who are too old to be treated as juveniles, but who research tells us are like juveniles in important ways.
He said the Young Adult Court offers these young adults a wide array of services and alternative sentences based on their needs.
“This allows them to keep a clean record and on a better path,” he said, adding that this approach also improves public safety in the long run by strengthening community relations.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of three progressive and reform-minded legislators,” Gonzalez added. “Brooklyn is safer than it has been in years.
“Working together, we will continue to enhance public safety while still sending fewer people to jail and prison,” he continued. “In Brooklyn, we have shown that reducing incarceration and public safety are not incompatible when done smartly. I look forward to working proactively with the assembly members to address additional criminal justice policies and reforms.”
Gonzalez said he is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn. He was raised by a single mother for most of his youth, living first in Williamsburg.
During the 1980’s, he said his family moved to East New York during the height of the city’s crack epidemic.
Gonzalez is a graduate of John Dewey High School in Coney Island, Cornell University and the University of Michigan Law School, where he was president of the Latino Law Student Association. He is married to Dagmar, and they have three sons.
Gonzalez said he has also received the endorsement, among others, of Public Advocate Letitia James, the Working Families Party, the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association, the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, 32BJ Service Employees International Union, the United Federation of Teachers, the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, the Transport Workers Union.