BK Lawmakers Demand Accountability For NYPD Officers Involved In Saheed Vassell Death
City Council members Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg, Bushwick), Robert Cornegy (D-Northern Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant), Inez Barron (D-East New York), and Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) and other elected officials today will demand real accountability for New York Police Department (NYPD) officers who killed Saheed Vassell in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
The rally will commemorate the one-year anniversary of Saheed’s death. On April 4, 2018, Saheed Vassell, who suffered from mental illness, was fatally shot by a spray of ten bullets from by plainclothes and Strategic Response Group NYPD officers, while wielding a metal pipe that resembled a gun. Four of the officers on the scene reportedly shot at Saheed immediately upon arriving and exiting their cars.
The New York State Attorney General’s office investigated the killing of Vassell as the special prosecutor in this case, but officially declined on March 29, 2019 to seek indictments and prosecutions of the officers involved in Saheed’s death, or related criminal misconduct.
According to the Vassell family, for the past year, Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD have refused to release the unedited footage of officers demanded by Saheed’s family, or explain why the hyper-militarized Strategic Response Group was deployed, while neighborhood officers who knew Saheed were not dispatched. No involved officers have been served administrative charges or placed on modified duty.
At the event, the coalition will call on the Mayor and the NYPD to deliver policy change, real accountability and meaningful disciplinary consequences for the police officers who killed Saheed and for those who engaged in related misconduct, including illegally leaking sealed records. So far, it has been reported that none of the officers involved in killing Saheed or in the cover-up have been put on modified duty or faced any other consequence for their actions, according to Progressive Cities.
The event is slated for 11 a.m., today, April 3, on the Steps of City Hall in Lower Manhattan.
Colton Applauds Ban of Plastic Bags As Part of FY’20 State Budget
Assembly member William Colton (D–Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) yesterday applauded passage and enactment of the 2019-2020 New York State Budget, including a ban on single-use plastic bags.
Over the weekend, the Democrat-controlled New York Legislature passed legislation that will make the state the second in the nation to have a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Lawmakers passed the measure Sunday afternoon, a little more than 12 hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the fellow Democratic leaders announced an agreement on a $175.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year that begins Monday, according to initial reports.
The measure will ban most plastic bags provided to customers at supermarkets and other retail businesses while also allowing counties to opt in on a 5-cent fee on paper bags.
“I strongly believe that this bill is a first solid step which moves us forward against climate change. I was happy to support the Environmental Part of the budget which resisted the calls of some to charge a fee on the environmentally harmful single use plastic bags but instead banned these plastic bags in all retail stores except restaurants and except where used to wrap meat, fish, etc. Also where a city or county decides to charge a fee for paper bag, consumers can avoid the fee by bringing their own bags. For instance retailers such as BJ’s and Costco’s do not offer bags but provide free boxes for consumers,” Colton said.
“Last year New York City tried to place a fee of at least 25 cents on each plastic bag. We rejected this because government should not place a financial burden on families buying food to solve this problem. This approach solves the problem without imposing such a fee,” added Colton.
Myrie To Hold Discussion On SD 20 Street Safety, Transportation Issues
State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-Central Brooklyn), Chair of Elections, alongside Senator Timothy Kennedy (D-Buffalo), Chair of the Transportation Committee, will meet with community leaders, advocates, and a broad group of local elected officials to discuss pressing transportation issues in Central Brooklyn’s Senate District 20.
The district includes parts of Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, and Sunset Park.
Parts of the district have a history of being transit deserts with many local residents having to rely on a few or in some cases a single train route for transportation.
Also expected at the event will be Assembly members Felix Ortiz, Jo Anne Simon, and City Council members Carlos Menchaca and Brad Lander.
The event is slated for 11 a.m., Thursday, April 4, at Sunset Park Library, Community Board Room, at 4201 Fourth Avenue (entrance at 43rd Street) in Sunset Park.
Nadler Holds Historic First Hearing On the Equality Act, Protecting LGBTQ Community
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Western Brooklyn, Western Manhattan), House Judiciary Committee Chairman, yesterday held the first ever hearing on H.R. 5, the Equality Act.
The measure is an historic civil rights legislation that would explicitly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community and strengthen non-discrimination protections for women and others.
At the hearing, Chairman Nadler also spoke directly to the LGBT community, saying: “Before I end, I want to take a moment to directly address many of those watching today’s hearing, who are undoubtedly about to hear their humanity and their right to exist questioned. To the transgender and gender non-conforming youth, teens, and adults who are about to have their right to participate in sports and be themselves in school, work and in their daily lives challenged; to the same-sex couples who are about to hear suggestions that they just take their business elsewhere, that they adopt children elsewhere, that they exist—elsewhere:
“We see you. We support you. And we believe in you. If you are feeling unsafe, afraid, or at risk, please reach out for help. You are worth fighting for, and we are here to fight alongside you, which is why we will be passing this bill.”
According to some initial reports, nearly 300 Democrats and a few Republicans support the bill. It is scheduled for hearings later this spring, and a vote this summer. The measure will likely pass the House, if not yet the Senate.
“I am deeply grateful to our witnesses today for sharing their stories and expertise. The discrimination and hardship faced by the LGBT community are heartbreaking, immoral, and require action. At the heart of the Equality Act are questions much broader than the individual provisions of the bill – who do we want to be as a country, and what is our willingness to take action to ensure that everyone, including the LGBT individuals, are able to fully participate in the American way of life,” stated Nadler.