Williams arrested protesting Court nominee

New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams being arrested outside Trump Tower in Manhattan during a protest of the nomination by President Trump of Brett Kavanagh to the US Supreme Court.
Kyle O’Leary

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams was arrested this week for protesting United States President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

New York State Lt. Gov. candidate Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, was arrested Monday night outside Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan as he protested Trump’s nomination of District of Columbia’s Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in America.

Williams was charged with disorderly conduct and released from New York Police Department (NYPD) custody shortly after midnight.

Before being arrested with a group of protesters, Williams called on Democrats to find the moral conviction to stand up to Trump and what Williams characterized as Trump’s “extremely conservative Supreme Court nominee.”

“My message is to the Democrats who think resistance is just a hashtag,” he said to protestors outside of Trump’s skyscraper on Fifth Avenue and East 56th Street. “We have fought for protections for so many, fought hard for black, brown, LGBT, for women.

“All of that is now at risk, not because of bigoted Republicans, but because of Democrats who refused to step up because they were afraid,” he added. “I am begging all Democrats – all those who claim leadership – to take a risk, show courage. If you are in your comfort zone, you are not doing enough.”

During the rally, Williams emphasized his concern that the right-leaning Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion a constitutional right.

He also criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “failing to advance legislation that would protect women’s rights on the state level by empowering the right-leaning Independent Democratic Conference (IDC).”

“Establishment Democrats, like the Gov. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Hochul have led us to where we are today,” Williams claimed. “They have had every opportunity to pass progressive legislation that ensure women have access to safe and legal abortion, but lacked the moral courage to advance what’s right, putting their own personal political gain ahead of those they represent.

“Now that the political winds have swayed and more progressives are demanding action, I would not be surprised to see the establishment follow our lead,” Williams added. “But, come September, New Yorkers will decide if they want elected officials who follow or lead at the helm of our state’s government.”

Williams on Tuesday participated in a rally in Union Square in lower Manhattan calling urging New York State legislators to advance reproductive justice measures, such as codifying Roe v. Wade and passing the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act.

Just before Trump announced his nominee for the Supreme Court Monday night, Cuomo unveiled a new campaign calling on the State Senate to codify Roe v. Wade into New York law, “or be voted out of office.”

The campaign includes a new digital ad “Vote for Roe or We’ll Vote You Out,” as well as robust six figure TV ad buy championing what the governor said is his “record on women’s rights.”

With Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement, Trump nominated Kavanaugh, a politically connected member of Washington’s conservative legal establishment, who is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court’s ruling on a woman’s right to abortion.

“As Trump’s extreme conservative Republican Party continues their attacks on women’s rights, the need to protect a woman’s right to choose is more important than ever,” Cuomo said.

“New York has made tremendous progress in the fight for women’s rights – the Women’s Equality Act, the groundbreaking ‘Enough is Enough’ law to stop sexual assault on college campuses, the nation’s most comprehensive paid leave program, pay equity and safeguards for reproductive health rights,” he added.

“We will not let Trump’s ultra-conservative Supreme Court take us backward,” Cuomo continued. “In New York, we are going forward. We are going to stand up, fight back and protect a woman’s fundamental right to make her own decisions about her health.

In presenting Judge Kavanaugh, 53, at the White House Monday night, for primetime television viewing, Trump described him as “one of the finest and sharpest legal minds in our time.”

But soon after the announcement, Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said: “I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have.”

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