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article imageNYC Council passes Community Safety Act, overrides Mayor's veto Special 

By Matthew DeLuca     Aug 23, 2013 in Politics
In an historic vote today, a proposal to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act passed the New York City Council.
The bills took an unprecedented route to the Council floor, passing through discharge and override proceedings due to of opposition from both the Mayor and Council Speaker.
The Community Safety Act consists of two bills, Intro-1079 and Intro-1080. The first creates the position of Inspector General, which will act as an independent monitor of police activity in the interest of improving transparency and accountability of the NYPD. The second bill strengthens the City’s racial profiling law and allows individuals to pursue civil actions against those liable for racially-based policing practices and instances of racial profiling.
Due to opposition from the Mayor, the Council Speaker and the leadership of the public safety committee, who presided over the bills, the bills faced an uphill road to passage. The bill was allowed to receive a vote only after members supporting the bill rallied to hold a discharge vote, which would bring the bill to the floor without committee approval. Once the bill was passed the it was immediately vetoed by the Mayor, forcing the council to override the veto in order to effect the law--to do so, 34 of 51 council members would need to support the override.
On August 22, the coalition of council members supporting the Community Safety Act got their chance. Before the day’s stated meeting, a press conference was held on the steps of the council chambers, in which citizens council members and community leaders came out to rally support for the bill. Many spoke of stop and frisk as the prime example of racially biased policing in the city. Despite the recent court decision that declared stop and frisk an unconstitutional practice, those present felt that more was needed to ensure true accountability.
They were ultimately successful in getting both bills passed, as Intro-1080, the more controversial piece of the Act, received the necessary 34 votes, the bare minimum required for passage. Chief sponsor of the bill, Jumaane Williams, became emotional as he cast his vote, thanking his mother and brother for their ardent support during the long process.
As those councilmembers in support of the bill cast their votes, many alluded to justice and safety and even invoked the dream of the great Martin Luther King. One council member remarked that the lead co-sponsors themselves, one black one white, coming together from vastly different backgrounds to accomplish something for justice, reminded him of the dream that was proclaimed in Washington D.C. 50 years ago.
On the other side of the debate, opponents of the bill, such as council member Eric Ulrich, lambasted his colleagues for not supporting the police department and worried that the bill would handcuff police and make the city less safe. Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg joined him in his condemnation after the vote, saying:
“Today, the City Council adopted legislation that will make it harder for our police officers to protect New Yorkers and continue to drive down crime. Make no mistake: the communities that will feel the most negative impacts of these bills will be minority communities across our city, which have been the greatest beneficiaries of New York City’s historic crime reductions.”
Despite the fear of a few key policy makers, many of those in support felt they were doing the right thing to make the city safer for their children and communities of color. Council member Deborah Rose (D-Staten Island) spoke of her concerns: "I stand here today as the mother of a son who has more hoodies in his closet than dress shirts, and as a mother who prays every time he is out of the house," she said, referring to the case of Trayvon Martin, the 16 year-old, who was shot and killed while walking home from the store.
Council member Rose, who has been accused by the police union of blindfolding police officers, responded that “my vote is to remove the blindfolds that allow the police to blindly target people of color,” and as many council members and citizens echoed throughout New York--today, we are removing the blindfold.
More about community safety act new York city, stop and frisk, jumaane Williams, bread Lander, Deborah rose
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