Bay Ridge City Councilman Vinnie Gentile, the Democratic Party candidate for the vacant 11th Congressional District seat, this week, called for calm in the wake of rioting in Baltimore and a large protest in New York City that included a number of arrests, following the death of Freddie Gray – yet another black man who died in police custody.
Gentile said the country is in need of some national healing and offered solutions to the increasing discussion over the need for justice reform on a national level.
“We can accomplish this through community policing and encouraging partnerships between law enforcement and the people they serve. Partnerships like these will help communities find solutions to problems through improved public trust and collaborative problem-solving,” said Gentile.
“Developing Partnerships like these will help communities find solutions to problems through improved public trust and collaborative problem-solving. Developing community partnerships with various local youth groups, church groups, pastors, and prominent civic organizations can all play a role; when everyone has a skin in the game and a seat at the table. When we can appreciate that we’re all in this together, that’s how we can move forward, together. As one,” he added.
Gentile’s comments came as Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, this week, proposed a bill to prohibit police departments across the country from utilizing choke holds -a technique intended to suffocate a person that was utilized in the death Eric Garner.
Garner’s death, in which Staten Island police restrained him using a choke hold, was caught on video and caused a national uproar. Gentile’s Republican opponent Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan convened a grand jury that exonerated any police from criminal charges in Garner’s death.
Jeffries’ bill, dubbed the Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act, would define use of the choke hold as a civil rights violation under federal law. Choke holds have been prohibited by the New York Police Department since 1993, but in the years since then thousands of New York City residents have filed complaints about the use of a choke hold. A substantial majority of the complaints were from precincts in which most residents are African American or Latino.
“Councilman Gentile strongly supports the ban that has been in place for more than twenty years by the New York Police Department and would support any effort to explicitly ban this maneuver on a national level,” said Gentile spokesperson Justin Brannan.
Donovan did not comment on the Jeffries’ bill. He did acknowledge in an earlier KCP post this week that are cases of police abuse and that a healing between some communities and the local police departments that cover those communities is needed.
The district covers Staten Island and parts of Southwest Brooklyn. The special election is on Tuesday, May 5.