MANH Lawmakers on the Move, June 22, 2020

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Johnson Calls for Juneteenth to Be Made a National Holiday

Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)
Council Member Corey Johnson

Last Friday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) issued a statement calling for Juneteenth to become a national holiday.

On June 19, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War was over and that Texas’ slaves were officially free. The holiday, also known as “Juneteenth” and “Freedom Day”, commemorates that day. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has already signed an executive order making it a state holiday; however, Johnson believes that it should have the same status nationwide.

“Observing Juneteenth reinforces our collective commitment to the fight for racial justice,” said Johnson. “It’s a day that reminds us of the importance and seriousness of the work that’s been done towards securing civil rights for all Americans, and all that we have yet to do. The Council will observe today as a holiday. Senator Kamala Harris announced last night that she will introduce a bill declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday, and I urge Congress to act quickly to make this happen.  

“Let’s stand together and do the work, as a city and as a country.”  

Comptroller Releases Shocking Report on NY Unemployment

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer (Photo credit: Thomas Good, CC BY-SA 4.0)
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

City Comptroller Scott Stringer (D) released a report last Friday showing a significant rise in unemployment in New York from April to May.

According to the report, the State’s unemployment rate rose from 15.8 percent in April to 18.3 percent in May. The report also revealed that workers of color and workers under 24 were disproportionately likely to have lost their job during this period.

The latest data on the city’s unemployment situation are alarming and further underscores the urgent need for swift, robust federal support,” said Stringer. “Communities of color and young people are bearing the brunt of our unemployment crisis; we need Washington to recognize the enormous scale of the losses we’ve suffered and get New York City the financial aid it needs.”

In addition to requesting more federal relief, Stringer’s analysis outlined what we, personally, can do to alleviate the problem.

“Here at home, there are a number of actions we can take to provide immediate relief,” said Stringer. “First, the City should restart our stalled capital program as a means of generating good-paying jobs, expanding the workforce, and meeting our growing infrastructure demands. We need to increase and streamline opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses who have suffered the most during the city’s slowdown, and restore the Summer Youth Employment Program so our children have viable pathways toward success. As our country and our city look toward reopening, we cannot leave behind the small businesses and workers that keep our economy running. We are the nation’s economic engine, and I urge Congress and City Hall to marshal our resources and stand up for New York City.

Maloney, Jeffries to Reveal Report Highlighting Importance of Complete Census Count for NYC

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Photo credit:
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Today, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn, Queens) will hold a press call to unveil a staff report detailing the consequences of an incomplete Census count for New York City.

The Census determines how much federal funding communities receive for public services like education, healthcare and employment programs. New York, having endured the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, is in a particularly precarious position right now and needs a complete count more than ever.

The conference will take place today at 1 p.m. For dial-in information, email [email protected]

Cuomo Announces Beginning of Phase 2 of Reopening

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo Credit:
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Last Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that New York City has been cleared to enter Phase 2 of reopening, starting today.

The previous day, the State tested nearly 80,000 New Yorkers for COVID-19; of those, only 796 tested positive.

“I am so incredibly proud of what we all did together and as a community,” said Cuomo. “We reopened the economy and saved lives, because it was never a choice between one or the other; it was always right to do both. We showed that works in New York. We owe thanks to so many people, to our heroes, the healthcare and essential workers, to our legislature, our colleagues in New Jersey, Connecticut and neighboring states, local governments, the Army Corps of Engineers and most of all, to the great people of the state who rose to the occasion and did what they had to do.

Perkins Calls for Overhaul of Policing

Councilmember Bill Perkins (D-Central Harlem, Morningside Heights) released a statement last Friday calling on New York to fundamentally change its system of policing.

Among other things, Perkins calls for the repealment of 50-a, the passage of the Justice in Policing Act, and cracking down on racial profiling and disparities in sentencing.

“While I’m heartened by the masses of people who have marched this week declaring ‘Black Lives Matter’, it won’t mean anything unless we as a city, a state and a country act to address the racism, prejudice and violence still embedded in our system,” said Perkins. “We must repeal Section 50-A that prevents disclosure of police misconduct and pass more reforms in Albany, pass the Justice in Policing Act in Washington setting a national standard for use of force, and we must do much more to stop people of color from being targeted unjustly, sentenced more harshly, and beaten and killed by those whose job it to protect us. 

“And here in the New York City Council, we must re-order our priorities, defund the police in a way that maintains the core police services but makes us safer by reinvesting money in youth programs, mental health, and community programs and by taking the police out of our schools, homeless outreach, and other functions better performed by other people. 

“These are things I’ve been fighting for a long time. Let’s use this time to do something to change it and live up to the promise of America before another generation is harmed.”

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