Advocates for Police Reforms Launch Non-Partisan Campaign Targeting Thousands of Prospective Voters
Communities United for Police Reform launched a non-partisan citywide campaign today to encourage the thousands of New Yorkers impacted by stop-and-frisk and other discriminatory policing practices to become active in the 2013 elections. This week, the campaign will begin its efforts to register thousands of new voters – many of whom have been directly affected by discriminatory policing – and will be hosting a mayoral forum on community safety Thursday that is co-presented by the New York Amsterdam News, Gay City News and the website Global Grind.
“All New Yorkers deserve to be protected from both crime and being unjustly targeted by the police, but unfortunately during the Bloomberg administration at least hundreds of thousands of our neighbors have had their rights violated by those meant to protect them,” said Jose Lopez of Communities United for Police Reform. “We will be working to ensure New Yorkers impacted by these dangerously counterproductive policies know the positions of the candidates and make their voices heard on the critical issues of safety and discriminatory policing.”
Under the Bloomberg administration, the use of stop-and-frisk has increased by more than 600% with over 5 million stops occurring throughout its tenure. Nearly nine in ten of those stopped were neither arrested nor issued a summons, and nearly 90% of those stopped were Black or Latina/o. A disproportionate number of those stopped are young Black and Latina/o New Yorkers.
Many of the same New Yorkers who are being targeted by stop-and-frisk and other discriminatory policing practices are underrepresented among registered voters. A NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) report cited studies that found younger voters were underrepresented in the electoratecompared to their composition of the eligible voting population, but that their “low voter participation [was] in part attributable to the failure of political campaigns to target” them. Cited in the report was a Young Voter Strategies study that showed “turnout more than doubled where nonpartisan campaigns actively [targeted] the youth vote.”
The CFB’s report also cited analysis by political consultant and SUNY political science professor Bruce Gyory highlighting the pattern of communities of color comprising the biggest gains in registered voters. In 2009, Black, Latina/o and Asian voters were the majority of the electorate in New York City for the first time in a citywide race.
Communities United for Police Reform’s electoral campaign comes as stop-and-frisk and discriminatory policing are omnipresent issues throughout the city’s neighborhoods, government, and media. The New York City Council is considering the Community Safety Act bills to ban discriminatory profiling and establish an inspector general for the NYPD to provide effective oversight. The constitutionality of the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy is being challenged in federal court for violating the Constitution’s protections against racial discrimination and unreasonable searches and seizures. Unlawful searches during stops have resulted in the explosion of low-level marijuana arrests – costing taxpayers anywhere from $500 million to more than $1 billion and the NYPD approximately one million hours of police time during the Bloomberg administration – which are the subject of legislation currently being discussed in the state legislature. Such illegal searches have also resulted in the unjust arrests of New Yorkers as sex workers simply because they are in possession of condoms, jeopardizing public health and also the target of state legislation in Albany.
Over 100 organizations from across the city have endorsed the Community Safety Act that is pending in the City Council, and according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, a majority of New Yorkers are opposed to the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy and are seeking a change.
“Black and Latino youth are tired of being profiled and harassed by police who seem to view all of us as criminals,” said Aaron Hinton, VOCAL-NY member from Brooklyn who has been stopped and frisked at least 28 times. “We're going to mobilize the youth vote because their voices need to be heard. We want these abuses to end. We want an administration and a police department that respects and protects the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers, whether they're from East New York or the Upper East Side.”
“Our community has had enough and we are ready to stop stop and frisk! We have been packing the courts, educating our members about their rights and demanding that the City Council pass the Community Safety Act. Now we will mobilize our community to show their electoral strength,” said Tannavionne Cintron, a member of Make the Road New York. “By registering LGBTQ people of color we will educate our community about the impact that voting has on ending unfair policies.”
“The most important thing we can do to change the direction of policing in New York City is to demand that our candidates for mayor explain to voters where they stand on vital criminal justice issues,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Impacted communities must not be overlooked.”
“We continue to mobilize voters who are affected by lack of NYPD transparency and accountability. The communities we represent want an end to racist policies like stop and frisk and surveillance of Muslims,” said Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. “Our political power has gained so much momentum in the past years and we are not stopping now.”
“When we surveyed almost 500 Asian community members across the five boroughs last year, community safety was a top issue of concern,”said Vivian Truong, Asian Youth in Action Program Coordinator at CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. “In CAAAV's 28 years of organizing low-income Asian immigrants and refugees, we have seen limited English-speaking immigrants wrongfully searched and arrested, Chinatown street vendors ticketed out of their livelihoods, and our young people harassed and brutalized. This week and in the coming months, we will be mobilizing voters in our communities to speak out.”
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.
CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.