Families Impacted by Police Violence Join Progressive and Community Organizations in Slamming State Legislative Leaders and Governor Cuomo for Failing to Pass the Safer NY Act
New York – Today, New York families impacted by police violence joined progressive and community organizations to slam the state’s legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo for failing to pass the Safer NY Act, a package of bills designed to increase police accountability and enhance public safety for all New Yorkers.
A number of families and advocates are part of a statewide coalition of over 100 organizations that spent the past several months urging Cuomo and the state legislature to prioritize passage of the entire Safer NY Act, which includes the following bills:
- PoliceSTAT Act (A-Lentol/S1830A-Hoylman) requiring statewide reporting on policing of low-level offenses and deaths in police custody;
- Repeal of 50-a (A2513-O’Donnell/S3695-Bailey), which was endorsed by the New York Times editorial board last week;
- Strengthening and expanding the Special Prosecutor Executive Order (A1601-Perry/S2574-Bailey);
- Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (A1617-Peoples-Stokes/S1527-Krueger), which would legalize marijuana under a marijuana justice framework.
- Reducing Unnecessary Arrests (A4053-Aubry/S2571-Bailey) by banning custodial arrests for non-criminal violations; and the
None of these bills in the Safer NY Act passed in State Senate. Only the PoliceStat Act passed in the Assembly, which has happened for four years in a row. The Perry Special Prosecutor bill has also passed the Assembly in two prior sessions, but was not put to a vote this year.
“We thank Speaker Heastie for passing the Police STAT Act in the Assembly - and we are very angry that Leader Stewart-Cousins did not move any of the Safer NY Act bills. We don’t want to hear any excuses or explanations as to why our state’s legislative leaders and Governor couldn’t pass the Safer NY Act bills. Both the Police STAT Act and the Perry/Bailey special prosecutor bills have passed out of the Assembly multiple years in the past - but neither were enacted into law. We have a police secrecy crisis in New York state but 50-a was not repealed. The Democrats are in power in Albany for the first time in a decade, but they failed to make any progress on police accountability. That’s just wrong and unacceptable, period. Their lack of focus and commitment on enacting the entire Safer NY Act package is shameful and offensive to us as families whose loved ones were killed by police," said several family members whose loved ones have been killed by police in New York state, including: Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Valerie Bell & Oniaja Shephard, mother and aunt of Sean Bell; Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo; Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez, Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham; Hertencia Petersen, aunt of Akai Gurley; Natasha Duncan and Angie Hicks, sister and aunt of Shantel Davis; Victoria Davis, sister of Delrawn Small; Jennifer Gonzalez, mother of the son of Kenny Lazo; Hawa Bah, mother of Mohammed Bah.
"We’ve been treated as if our intense pain, our losses, and our struggles for justice don’t matter – or matter less than the concerns of police unions and police departments. Make no mistake: we will hold Governor Cuomo and legislators accountable for their failure to advance real police accountability during this legislative session. We have no intention of going away or remaining silent. We will continue to fight and raise our voices until we pass the Safer NY Act,” said these family members impacted by police violence.
“While other important legislation was passed, the failure of the legislature to pass any police accountability priorities from the Safer New York Act into law - while passing police union priority bills, including limiting police discipline, is shameful. New York state cannot claim to be a progressive beacon for criminal justice reform, or end mass incarceration and immigrant deportations, without addressing abusive and secretive policing. Instead of bowing to baseless fear-mongering by police unions, Governor Cuomo and our state's legislative leaders should spend more time helping to advance safety and justice of families and communities impacted by daily police violence. We will organize to ensure this happens in the next legislative session.
"We thank Assembly Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Joe Lentol for prioritizing passage of the Police STAT Act in the Assembly, for the fourth year in a row. However, Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins' refusal to schedule a floor vote on any police accountability priorities prevented even this common-sense transparency bill from becoming law. And Governor Cuomo's last-minute attempts to undermine the Perry/Bailey special prosecutor legislation was a slap in the face to families and communities who have been fighting to address gaps in the existing executive order," said groups involved in Communities United for Police Reform and the Safer NY Act coalition, including Arab American Association of New York, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Popular Democracy, Citizen Action of New York, Drug Policy Alliance, FIERCE, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Justice Committee, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Make the Road NY, Picture the Homeless, Rockaway Youth Task Force, The Jewish Vote, and VOCAL-NY.
"The failure of Governor Cuomo and the state legislature to pass Safer NY Act legislation this session means that Eric Garner's mother, police violence survivors and the public will continue to be kept in the dark about police misconduct and discipline of officers who kill, brutalize and sexually assault New Yorkers. Black and Latinx communities will continue to be disproportionately harmed because NY has not legalized marijuana or enacted community reinvestment to address past harms of disparate marijuana enforcement. Low-income New Yorkers of color - particularly immigrants, LGBT and gender nonconforming, women, homeless people and others -- will continue to face daily humiliation, abuse and violence by officers who face no consequences for their actions. These harmful practices will continue until the Safer NY Act is passed,” said these groups involved in Communities United for Police Reform and the Safer NY Act coalition.
Below are additional statements from Safer NY Act coalition members:
"As a Black-led organization working in the largest Black community in New York City, we are outraged by the Governor and state legislature’s failure to enact the priorities within the Safer New York Act. It’s striking how casually our state government looks upon the lives of Black and Brown lives that are daily in the cross hairs of abusive policing and a hyper-criminalizing “justice” system. The dereliction of duty by our elected officials towards our community will not be forgotten nor go unaddressed," said Mark Winston Griffith, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center.
“Despite a highly productive legislative session, the legislature missed an opportunity to increase transparency within police departments and begin to repair the harms done by the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana. By failing to pass the STAT act, the Senate has allowed police departments to continue to conceal information and evade accountability. And while a last-ditch effort to decriminalize marijuana was passed, falling short of legalization is a glaring missed opportunity to address current disparities in marijuana enforcement while reinvesting in the communities that have suffered the most harm,” said Michael SIsitzky, Lead Policy Counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union.
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.Topics: Police STAT Act Repeal 50-A Safer NY Act