Though this story is about specific organizing in NYC, I think it’s important to share the steps that are being taken there by a broad based coalition of progressive activists, which can be applied across the U.S.
New York City’s Stop and Frisk laws are racist, and negatively affect black, brown, and gay New Yorkers. A majority of those who have been targeted are young people. Communities United for Police Reform is organizing to stop this.
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, bringing 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 most unfairly targeted by the NYPD. This groundbreaking campaign is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers. We are a movement that is here to stay – a Campaign that will be a visible, lasting presence on the streets of neighborhoods citywide. We will be in communities and on the streets, educating people about their rights; and in the courts and on the steps of City Hall and the state capitol, demanding change to the NYPD — until these policies end.
The New York Daily News had this article covering steps being taken to challenge candidates running for mayor and to get out the youth vote.
The stop-and-frisk movement is banking on Brooklyn and the Bronx to sway the race for mayor to the left.
Armed with voter-registration forms, civil rights advocates are visiting neighborhoods with high counts of police street interrogations, reasoning that young people will help elect a candidate who will revamp the controversial NYPD practice.
“We want a mayor who is going to pursue criminal justice policies that are not just about solving crimes or stopping crimes,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
NYCLU is part of Communities United for Police Reform, a patchwork of about a dozen nonprofits leading the sign-up-to-vote drive across the city.
Volunteers poured into 13 neighborhoods across the city since they kicked off their campaign last week.
About 1,000 new voters have already been signed up.
Getting young voters engaged and registered to vote is key. Demanding that politicians running for office state their positions clearly about where they stand on stop and frisk and whether or not they support the Community Safety Act is part of the process.
The Community Safety Act is a landmark police reform legislative package that currently consists of four bills aimed at ending discriminatory policing and bringing real accountability to the NYPD. New Yorkers want to live in a safe city where police officers treat all residents equally and respectfully, and are not above the law. These four bills were introduced in the City Council in 2012, a hearing was held on the full package in October 2012, and the bills are now awaiting a final hearing and vote. The Community Safety Act includes
1. Protecting New Yorkers against discriminatory profiling by the NYPD (Intro. 800a)
Establishes a strong and enforceable ban on profiling and discrimination by the New York City Police Department.
Expands the categories of individuals protected from discrimination. The current prohibition covers race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin. The bill would expand this to also include: age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status.
A meaningful “private right of action” would be created for individuals who believe they have been unjustly profiled by the NYPD.
New Yorkers would be able to bring intentional discrimination claims and/or disparate impact claims, though not for monetary damages.
Similar laws exist in Illinois, West Virginia & Arkansas. This bill is also similar to the federal End Racial Profiling Act.
2. Establishing independent oversight of the NYPD (Intro. 881a)
Assigns responsibility for NYPD oversight to the Commissioner of the Department of Investigation. (In NYC, the DOI currently oversees about 300 city agencies – including the Fire Department, Department of Education and Human Resources Administration – but not the NYPD.)
Oversight would include reviewing NYPD operations, policies, programs and practices.
Reports would be made public and revisited annually to see if recommendations have been followed.
There is independent monitoring of the FBI, CIA, LAPD and every major New York City agency except for the NYPD.
3. Protecting New Yorkers against unlawful searches (Intro. 799)
Ends the practice of the NYPD deceiving New Yorkers into consenting to unnecessary searches
Requires officers to explain that a person has the right to refuse a search when there is no warrant or probable cause
Requires officers to obtain proof of consent to a search.
Similar laws exist in Colorado & West Virginia.
2. Requiring officers to identify and explain themselves to the public (Intro. 801)
Requires officers to provide the specific reason for their law enforcement activity, such as a stop-and-frisk
Requires officers to provide document to the person with the officer’s name and information on how to file a complaint at the end of each police encounter
Similar laws exist in Arkansas, Minnesota and Colorado
NYC is not the only city in the country where police actions, combined the War on Drugs are having a negative impact on communities of color. Local elections have consequences.
We need to re-double efforts to get people in communities bearing the brunt of these actions to mobilize, and vote.
cross-posted from Black Kos