Queens Lawmakers On The Move Sept. 24, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Jeffries Introduces Anti-Chokehold Legislation

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Coney Island, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach in Queens), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, last week introduced a bill to ban the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers.

The Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019 amends a civil rights statute section entitled “Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law” to include chokeholds as a “punishment, pain or penalty”. The bill defines a chokehold as “the application of any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce the intake of air,” consistent with the current New York Police Department standard.

The proposed measure came following a Judiciary Committee hearing on September 19, where Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, called upon Congress to pass the civil rights legislation. Garner, a father of six, died in Staten Island as a result of a chokehold administered by Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo on July 17, 2014.

The deployment of a chokehold has been banned by the New York Police Department for more than twenty years. Presently, several major police departments throughout the country prohibit, limit or discourage chokehold use. In addition to New York, these cities include Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. However, there is no national standard on the excessive use of force, as guidance in restraining a suspect has traditionally been left to local law enforcement officials and municipalities.

“The overwhelming majority of police officers are hardworking individuals who are on the job to protect and serve. Yet, persistent instances of police violence have undermined the relationship between law enforcement and communities throughout America, including in New York City. The chokehold is a poster child for violent police tactics. It is an unreasonable measure. It is an unnecessary measure. It is an uncivilized measure. The Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act will make it an unlawful measure,” said Jeffries.

Constantinides, School Officials Kick Off Solar Installation 

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights celebrated Climate Week in Astoria yesterday with the construction kick-off to install new solar panels on P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst. 

“Western Queens will be a cleaner, greener place thanks because of the partnerships we formed to make schools such as P.S. 171 more energy efficient,” said Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “With half of this school’s energy coming from these panels, we can show students how renewable power directly impacts their lives while keeping costs down. Thanks to Speaker Corey Johnson, the Department of Education and Principal Stone for your support and collaboration on this investment.” 

P.S. 171 is the first of six Council District 22 schools that will receive solar panels within the next two years. This is part of a commitment to make western Queens schools run on clean, affordable power that also teaches tomorrow’s leaders about the impact of renewable energy on their daily lives. Constantinides secured the funding for this project in partnership with Speaker Corey Johnson. The New York City Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability is overseeing the solar implementation. 

Construction is scheduled to wrap up in December, and the panels should be operational by Spring 2020 with a lifespan of more than 20 years. Once they’re running, the solar panels will generate more than half P.S. 171’s annual energy consumption to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The building is estimated to emit 50 metric tons of CO2 less each year — the equivalent of avoiding the burning of almost 55,000 pounds of coal. A monitor panel placed in the building will show how much energy has been generated from solar as well as the share of greenhouse gases that were not emitted. 

Sanders Holds Community Development Day

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) this week will host a Community Development Day, which is a process where people come together and work collectively towards finding solutions to problems that affect them. 

The day recognizes that some people, some groups, and some communities are excluded and oppressed by the way society and structures are organized. It then proceeds to teach how to start and grow nonprofits and small businesses that challenge these structures to ensure fairness for all citizens.

Learn how to:

  • Start a non-profit or business
  • Gain startup capital
  • Master financial management
  • Find and write grants
  • Fundraise
  • Develop relationships with your elected officials 

The event is slated for 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26 at the Rochdale Village Community Center (Rooms 11,12,13), 169-65 137th Avenue in Jamaica.

Lancman Sees Courts Order NYPD Release Of Fare Evasion Data

City Councilman Rory Lancman

City Councilman Rory I. Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) yesterday saw State Supreme Court Justice Arthur F. Engoren order the New York Police Department (NYPD) to release the data mandated by New York City Administrative Code §14-172, a law Lancman sponsored, requiring the NYPD to post on its website quarterly statistics on the number of arrests and MTA summonses made in each of the 400+ subway stations in New York City.

Lancman successfully ushered the bill into law in order to address the vast racial disparity in fare evasion enforcement, whereby 89% of those arrested are people of color.

The suit was filed after the city missed numerous reporting deadlines and flatly refused to comply with the law, Lancman and the Community Service Society of New York (CSSNY) filed two lawsuits to force the NYPD to disclose the data, one seeking the data under the law itself and the other relying on the state Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”). 

“The Court has confirmed what every New Yorker already assumed: that the NYPD must comply with the law, and that the Council and the public are entitled to the information they need to address racially biased policing in New York City,” said Lancman, chair of the Committee on the Justice System. “It is unacceptable that fare evasion is enforced almost exclusively against people of color, and I expect this data to help us bring about real change.”