A wide cross-section of the Jamaica, Queens community viewed the gut-wrenching injustices meted out to minorities in the criminal justice system, in a free public screening of the Netflix original documentary film — 13th Amendment, presented by York City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, and the 18b Assigned Counsel Association of Queens Family Court.
The April 7, outreach of the Assigned Council Panel at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, was one of many programs that include a winter coat drives, and community forums, organized by the professional panel, committed to fairness and equality, and who felt it was imperative to educate the community about this primary document of the 13th Amendment to the Unites States Constitution – abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude.
However, President, Sara A. Tirgary Esq, said the film clearly shows that the abolition of slavery was replaced with an increased prosecution of the minority community, making mass incarceration a substitute for slavery.
As such, the body has recognized the need to work with community groups, organization, political lenders, and its clients to raise awareness to squash intolerance, and demand all be treated fairly, equally, and with respect, said Tirgary.
Titled – “From Slave to Criminal with one Amendment,” the film by Ava Duvernay, director of the Civil Rights movie, “Selma,” was narrated by academics, historians, and professionals, who, painted a bleak picture of the lives of millions of black and Latino men and women who are behind bars for minor crimes, and who spend countless years waiting for their cases to be heard.
Council Member Miller said he hoped the film stimulate and inspire all to further engage, and become strong advocates to bring the issue of mass incarceration to the forefront, adding that the community must recommit to bring about justice and reform.
“Everyone should take something from this film with them to share in the community, and share with those who have been affected by the injustices of the prison system,” he added.
“I look forward to working with each and everyone in the community to bring about reform,” Councilman Miller, said.
Rorary L. Lancman, District 24 council member and chair of the New York City Council Committee on Courts and Legal services, commended, Council Member Miller, for helping to reform the criminal system, “where thousands of people are sitting in prison awaiting trial because they cannot make $500.00 bail money, because they are poor,” said Lancman.
“More people are incarcerated in the United States than in any other part of the world,” said Lancman, adding that this is a special burden on lawyers, whom he thanked for the work they do, day in, and day out.
Guyanese-born Andrea Ogle Esq. who has been a member for 18 years, and who was emcee, noted that the panel has just began to take steps to reach out to the community by holding events such as the screening, educating attorneys on issues such as immigration, and participating in fundraisers to carry out the group’s mission to support members with the best services available so that they in turn, can give quality legal representation to those who need it.
To honor the 49th Anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., some members of the panel recited Maya Angelou’s poem “I Rise.”
The organization which started in 1972 comprises private practice attorneys of diverse backgrounds, minority, including women, who are former judges, court attorney referees, support magistrates and former supervisors for a number of NYC agencies and community organizations. They brought this stirring documentary to the screen to educate the community about the legal system and to help those in crisis and unable to afford legal representation.
The screening was held in conjunction with Congressman Gregory Meeks, NYS Sen. Leroy Comre, NYS Assemblewoman Alicia Hyndman, and NYS Assemblyman Clyde Vanel.
Assigned Council members included: Andrea S. Ogle, Esq.
Robert Silverberg, Esq. Maria De La Cruz, Esq.
Valadimir Cadet, Esq. Anthony Agustus, Esq.
Ade Agbayewa, Esq. Maricel Gonzalez, Esq.
Eugene Crowe, Esq. Toba Beth Stutz, Esq.
Lance Dandridge, Esq. Sarah Tirgary, Esq.
Patrick Griffiths, Esq. Debora Garibaldi, Esq.
Sandra Munoz, Esq.Daniel Moskowitz, Esq.
Diana Kelly, Esq. James Gavin, Esq. and past president Crystal L. Screen, Esq.
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