Espaillat, Peoples-Stokes, Williams, Benjamin and Richards Address Recent and Pending Legislation
(NEW YORK CITY – June 22, 2020) Recent demonstrations for reforming policing and criminal justice have created a unique opportunity for passing legislation and enacting policies that have been years in the making, a panel of New York’s elected leaders explained during a June 18th virtual town hall.
“I know that we’ve never seen the kind of outpour of support like we’ve seen today,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat (D, New York). He referred to the Justice in Policing Act that is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as a Republican-led bill in the U.S. Senate. Among other measures, the House bill would ban chokeholds by police and no-knock warrants, as well as racial, religious and discriminatory profiling. The Senate bill leverages funding to compel policing reforms.
Said Espaillat, “I believe very strongly that the Senate is somewhat open to these changes. I think that the public sentiment right now – not just in urban settings but across America — is one that lends itself to sitting down and negotiating and being able to pass some of these legislations into law. I believe strongly that something will happen in the Senate and we’re looking forward to sitting down and discussing each and every one of these initiatives in the House bill.”
Meanwhile, reform bills have passed in New York State and in New York City which also ban chokeholds, among other reforms. Touting the raft of reforms, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams addressed calls to “defund the police” by placing policing within a broader context of funding the services it takes to ensure community well-being, such as education, housing, health, mental health. “The fact is we’ve been asking police to do the job of so many agencies for such a long time and they don’t have the tools to do that,” he said.
“So when we talk about ‘defund the police,’ I don’t want to get mixed up in these words. I’m comfortable saying defund the police, divest from the police, reinvest in the police — it all means the same thing, which is we have too much money in people who have tools like batons, guns, handcuffs and summonses, but not enough of the resources are going toward the social infrastructure that we really know defines public safety. Were have to stop equating public safety with policing,” added Williams.
Espaillat and Williams were joined on Thursday’s free, public panel by New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, State Senator Brian Benjamin and New York City Council Member Donovan Richards. The evening was co-moderated by Arva Rice, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Urban League; and Rose Pierre-Louis, Chief Operating Officer of the NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.
The lead sponsors for the event were: Greater New York Chapter of the Links, New York Urban League, National Action Network
and the NYU McSilver Institute.
The community co-sponsors who helped to spread the word are listed below.