CPR Statement Re: Speaker Christine Quinn’s Announcement on Public Safety

Contact: Mandela Jones 646.200.5316 mandela@berlinrosen.com

Communities United for Police Reform released the following statements in response to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s announcement that she will not support an amended version of the anti-profiling bill – Intro 800 – of the Community Safety Act pending in the City Council.

“While we applaud Speaker Quinn for supporting the establishment of an inspector general for the NYPD, we are deeply disappointed that she does not support legislation to protect New Yorkers from being unjustly profiled by the police,” said Joo-Hyun Kang of Communities United for Police Reform. “New Yorkers need to know that the police can't treat people differently because of their race, sexual orientation, immigration status, or other protected categories – and that requires passing this legislation. Community leaders and hundreds of organizations from across the City, as well as a strong majority of Council members, support this bill.  Without strong protections from discriminatory treatment, even the best Inspector General will not be able to ensure New Yorkers are not discriminated against and targeted for abuse because they are Black, Latina/o, gay, transgender or immigrants.  The City Council should promptly pass both the legislation to ban discriminatory profiling and the bill to establish an inspector general.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the speaker will not support a strong ban against profiling by the NYPD,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “But we expect that the anti-profiling bill, like the Inspector General bill, which both enjoy the overwhelming majority of support in the City Council, will get the vote it is entitled to. While racial profiling is currently banned, it is a law with no teeth. The anti-profiling bill that is part of the Community Safety Act makes it illegal for cops to use race as a reason to stop someone – unless there really is a suspect description. Since fitting a description was the reason for a stop-and-frisk just 16 percent of the time in 2011, this will force the Department to explain why 90 percent of people stopped are black and Latino. But just as importantly, this bill broadens the communities that are protected against profiling.  So whether you’re black or Latino, Muslim or Arab, gay or straight, this legislation will protect you against profiling by the NYPD. This bill will allow New Yorkers to actually hold the NYPD accountable when acts of discrimination happen. New Yorkers should insist that every candidate for mayor takes a clear and unequivocal position on this crucial issue, and that the City Council promptly holds a vote on this basic civil rights legislation.”

“The police have stopped me in the street and harassed me simply because I'm a transgender woman; this happens frequently to me and other people in my community just because of who we are,” said Jennifer de la Cruz, a 24-year-old member of Make the Road NY originally from Mexico. That's why we need the city to take action to stop this type of police abuse and pass a strong law to end profiling based on someone's race, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”

“Discriminatory profiling by the police doesn’t work, wastes resources, violates civil rights and distracts from solving and preventing crime,” said Kevin Finnegan, Political Director, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in New York and the nation. “We need both an Inspector General to safeguard against unfair police practices, and also the ability for individual plaintiffs to bring suits against policies that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status or other protected categories. Both these measures together will ensure that the safety and rights of all New Yorkers are protected.”

“The membership of 32BJ is disappointed to learn Speaker Quinn will not be supporting the ban on racial profiling,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “We live in communities where racial profiling is rampant and has contributed to the deterioration of trust between residents and the police. This hurts public safety and undermines communities. Working people of color should be able to travel in, out, and around their communities without fear of harassment.”

“As we stand here yet again asking our leaders to stand up for justice and what’s right by the people, and again we are met with political posturing and back room deals,” said Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference and member of NAACP National Board of Directors. “The question that everyone should simply answer is are you for racial profiling or are you not. We can’t allow political verbiage to stand in the way of justice. Any would-be mayor must answer the question are you for racial profiling or are you against it.”

“Police profiling is a critical issue for LGBTQ communities, reducing trust in law enforcement, safety, and access to support for LGBTQ survivors of violence,” said Ejeris Dixon, New York City Anti-Violence Project Deputy Director in charge of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy. “The New York City Anti-Violence Project applauds Speaker Quinn’s support for the Inspector General Bill and urges her to support the profiling bill which prevents profiling on both sexual orientation and gender identity,”

“The police target Blacks, Latinos, and homeless people for no reason,” said Sara Diallo, member of Picture the Homeless. “Passing the profiling bill would force the NYPD to focus on stopping crime and keeping people safe, rather than harassing and discriminating against people who have done nothing wrong.”

“Unchecked policies from unwarranted surveillance of Muslims, to unlawful stop and frisks of Blacks, Latinos, and people of color, underscore the need for greater oversight and changes in the New York Police Department,” said Monami Maulik, Executive Director of DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving. “While we are encouraged by the Speaker’s support of the Inspector General bill, we continue to demand tangible policy reforms, such as the profiling bill, that will actually curb discriminatory practices.”

“Passage of the Inspector General bill will bring us one step closer to a more transparent and accountable police department but that alone is not enough,” said Linda Sarsour, Executive Director at the Arab American Association and member of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition. “New Yorkers want additional reforms that include a ban of profiling to bolster protections against discriminatory policing practices by the NYPD.”

“No one can look at the numbers and say with a straight face that the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk isn’t a blatant case of racial profiling,” said Alfredo Carrasquillo, VOCAL-NY Civil Rights Organizer, who has been stopped and frisked numerous times by the police. “We need to take a clear stance that New Yorkers won’t tolerate racial profiling by the police. It’s clear the tools we have now to prevent it aren’t working.”

“We welcome continued support of measures including the bill to introduce an Inspector General over the NYPD,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Advocacy Program Manager Nahal Zamani, “and urge the New York City Council to similarly work to pass the proposed comprehensive ban on profiling - a much needed step for justice for New Yorkers impacted by discriminatory policing practices.”

“While the Inspector General bill is an important step toward reforming the NYPD’s discriminatory practices, it is clearly inadequate without a ban on profiling,” said Brittny Saunders, Senior Staff Attorney for Immigrant and Civil Rights, Center for Popular Democracy. “Our communities cannot afford to let the NYPD continue to waste time, energy and resources on discriminatory tactics that don’t work. “If the Council wants to fix the problem of aggressive, wasteful and discriminatory policing, they should pass both the IG and the profiling bill this spring. Anything less is a cop out.”

BACKGROUND

The Community Safety Act contains four important bills. Intro 800-A (anti-profiling bill) would ban profiling based on race, religion, immigration status, housing status, sexual orientation gender identity or expression, and other protected categories.  Intro 881 (Inspector General bill) would create a strong inspector general, with subpoena power, to investigate the policies and procedures of the NYPD.  Intro 799 would protect New Yorkers against unlawful searches by requiring officers to inform New Yorkers of their legal rights. Intro 801 would increase transparency in police-civilian encounters by requiring officers to identify themselves and explain why they are stopping someone.

Significant amendments to the anti-profiling bill have been made since its introduction in February 2012 as Intro 800.

The amended version Intro. 800-A would prohibit bias-based profiling by law enforcement officers and the bill:

  • 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.  Intro 800-A 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.
  • Plaintiffs would be able to bring intentional discrimination claims and/or disparate impact claims.

Changes to Intro. 800-A

Several important changes have been made in Intro. 800-A to improve the bill from the original version (Intro 800, originally introduced on February 29, 2012), based on feedback at the City Council hearing (October 10, 2012), and many conversations with stakeholders.  With those changes, Intro 800-A would:

  • Not allow plaintiffs to seek monetary damages, but instead injunctive and declaratory relief (i.e. changes to policy, training, etc. to address the problem)
  • Utilize the definition of profiling currently in the NYC Human Rights Law, that prohibits using the profile as a “determinative factor,” rather “to any degree” (i.e. it would clearly be permissible to include identifying information about suspects in descriptions). 
  • Not include supervisors amongst those that action would be obtained against.
  • The categories of language, socioeconomic status and occupation, which were included in Intro. 800, would not be added as new protected classes.

A summary of the changes to the bill from Intro 800 to Intro 800-A can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/h2zgfbcuyl4k308/Intro%20800-A%20-%20NYPD%20Profiling%20Bill%20-%20Summary%20of%20Changes.pdf

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.

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