MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Oct. 26, 2020

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Espaillat Responds to Horrifying Irwin Center Report

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) released a statement last Friday in response to an L.A. Times report detailing the physical and sexual abuse at the ICE Irwin County Detention Center.

Espaillat made a Congressional Delegation visit to the detention facility in September. During his visit, he met with several women who alleged that they faced horrific abuse under the ICE’s supervision. The report covers their experience in graphic detail, including an account of one woman who woke up chained to a hospital bed after receiving invasive, nonconsensual surgery.

“The report released by the LA Times further reiterates the horrifying accounts coming out of the facility and illustrates just how far the United States has deviated under President Trump, who has taken every opportunity to dehumanize immigrants and refugees these past few years,” said Espaillat. My office is focused on assisting with the release of other individuals who have expressed a desire to be transferred from this facility or repatriated to their respective home country. I firmly believe that this behavior is not only despicable and vile, but also potentially criminal in nature – the physician, his staff, and the government agents who failed to act must all be held to account.

“I continue my call for the closure of the Irwin facility, and if we are to regain our sense of humanity and descency, we must close this facility now.”

James Issues Voter Protection Guidance Ahead of November Election

Attorney General of NY Letitia James (Photo by KCP)
Attorney General of NY Letitia James

Last Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) issued guidance to law enforcement and state Board of Elections offices to ensure that New Yorkers can vote easily and safely.

The announcement took place one day before early in-person voting officially began in New York. In anticipation of the opening, James’ guidance included a list of what constitutes unlawful voter intimidation. The list includes the following:

  • lingering outside of polling places to try to scare voters out of line;
  • holding up the line by aggressively vetting large groups of voters;
  • recording, photographing, following or harassing voters inside polling places;
  • spreading false rumors that there are negative consequences to voting;
  • and brandishing weapons or military paraphernalia outside of polling sites.

It also includes some behaviors that are specifically outlawed under New York law, such as refusing to let voters in without a photo ID.

“All New Yorkers must be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote without coercion or intimidation,” said  James. “While voting in New York is safe and secure, I urge anyone who encounters barriers or issues to contact my office immediately. The guidance we are issuing outlines basic protections for voters and serves as a warning that will we not allow anyone to hamper people’s access to voting, period.”

Read the full guidance here.

Hoylman, New York Blood Center to Host Blood Drive

State Senator Brad Hoylman (photo provided by Avi Small)
State Senator Brad Hoylman

Today, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) and the New York Blood Center will be hosting a blood drive in the West Village, entitled “Donate Blood to Those Who Cannot”.

Currently, state guidelines disallow gay and bisexual men from donating blood, unless they have been celibate for at least three months. With the new blood drive, Hoylman is encouraging heterosexual New Yorkers to help fight blood shortages by donating the blood that their queer friends cannot.

“Even during a severe blood shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA clings to outdated policies that prevent me and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community from donating blood,” said Hoylman. “We need the FDA to change their policy. Until that happens, we need LGBTQ allies to step up and give on behalf of our community to meet the current blood shortage. So please come, donate blood for those who can’t, and help us save lives while we fight injustice.”

The event will take place today from 1-7 p.m. at 57 Bethune St.

De Blasio Launches NYC Election Observers Corps

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: William Alatriste)
Mayor Bill de Blasio

Last Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) launched the NYC Election Observers Corps, a volunteer effort to protect voters.

The Corps will recruit New Yorkers for training from the DNYC and Law Department to serve as non-partisan observers outside poll sites. On Election Day, the observers will report any instances of voter intimidation and direct voters to voter assistance hotlines if necessary.

“The right to vote must be protected. That is a core, fundamental responsibility of any government,” said de Blasio. “The Election Observer Corps will add to the efforts of invaluable community groups that have worked for years to ensure voters know their rights. Voter intimidation is a crime and we will stand united together as a City to protect voters.”