MANH Lawmakers on the Move, June 23, 2020

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Espaillat Calls for Solidarity Between African and Latino Americans

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (Photo credit: U.S. House Office of Photography)
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) wrote an op-ed for The Hill yesterday about the common ground shared between Latino and African-American civil rights leaders.

The article begins with an exceprt from a telegram that Martin Luther King, Jr. sent to Cesar Chavez in 1966. In the telegram, Dr. King told Chavez that their “separate struggles are really one”, in that they both were fighting on behalf of the marginalized and disenfranchised.

More than 50 years later, wrote Espaillat, we’ve seen the beginnings of a nationwide movement that would make both King and Chavez proud.

“The George Floyd story has served as the tipping point and catalyst of change and for what can only be described as a movement,” he wrote. “A movement in the spirit of Dr. King and Chavez, peaceful protests that demanded these injustices be corrected, stringent in action that requires unity and patience as well as resolve.

“In the vein of Cesar and Martin, Latino and African American leaders are united across the county to denounce hate and profiling that we see happening even in my congressional district – in Harlem, Bronx and Washington Heights. We are stronger together and must continue to stand in solidarity to unite our communities against hate and division.”

Read the full article here.

Rodriguez Reminds City to Protect Tenants from Eviction During Reopening

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (Photo credit:
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood) released a statement yesterday urging the City to continue protecting low-income tenants during Phase 2 of reopening.

As the courts are reopening, Rodriguez expressed worry that the rate of evictions will skyrocket, as the eviction protections instated during the pandemic begin to wane. To prepare for this impending crisis, he called for an extension of the eviction moratorium, and the usage of FEMA Disaster Relief funds to give tenants one-time rent relief payments.

“Today begins Phase II of the City’s reopening and we need to ensure that all tenants, especially immigrant, low-income New Yorkers, are protected from evictions,” said Rodriguez. “During the pandemic, it was the Black, Latino and immigrant communities that were and continue to be severely impacted by the Novel Coronavirus. Many did not have the luxury of working from home, apply for unemployment benefits, or receive the financial support given to the rest of the country.”

Velázquez Bill Would Impose New Standards, Penalties for Police Abuses

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (Photo Credit:
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) introduced legislation to impose stringent new standards on law enforcement officers.

The “Law Enforcement Oversight and Reform Act” would ban chokeholds and implement harsher new penalties for misconduct. Officers who use excessive force resulting in serious injury or death could face up to life in prison. Lesser offenses would merit fines of at least $10,000.

“New Yorkers and the American people have made their voices heard,” Velázquez said. “The time for change is now. We need meaningful change and that includes holding accountable police who abuse their authority.”

Hoylman Bill Would Ban ATM Fees for Unemployment Insurance Cards

State Senator Brad Hoylman
State Senator Brad Hoylman

Yesterday, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) introduced legislation to ban banks that offer unemployment benefits to charge their recipients to use their benefit debit cards.

The bill would ban banks and ATMs from imposing any sort of fee for the usage of a benefit card. Hoylman wrote the bill in response to reports of hundreds of unemployed New Yorkers having to wait  outside a single ATM in Manhattan to withdraw unemployment benefits without paying a fee.

“In the middle of a massive economic crisis, every dollar counts,” said Hoylman. “Charging a fee to someone who is already facing financial hardship is adding insult to injury. My new legislation will allow New Yorkers to access unemployment insurance and other public benefits without being charged this nuisance fee. We can’t allow big banks to nickel and dime unemployed New Yorkers.”