Nadler, Murphy Seek to Reinstate Office for ATJ
Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn) and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Office for Access to Justice Establishment Act of 2020.
Established in 2010, the Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) sought to ensure that the justice system delivers fair outcomes to all parties, and that everyone has access to quality legal assistance regardless of socioeconomic status. However, in 2018, the office was quietly closed by then- Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R).
“The Office for Access to Justice was built on the principles of creating a fairer and more just criminal justice system by ensuring those most in need had the same access to legal aid as everyone else,” said Nadler. “The Trump Administration shuttered this office and curtailed this important work. I am proud to introduce this legislation to reestablish this office within the Department of Justice and to restore efforts to ensure everyone has equal access to representation. This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of organizations from across the political spectrum. The Biden-Harris Administration must make this office a top agency priority.”
Espaillat Receives Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) released the following statement last Saturday, after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID19 vaccine at the U.S. Capitol:
“Today, I was administered the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID19 vaccine to ensure my constituents of its safety and effectiveness. I understand that many individuals, especially within minority communities, have expressed their concerns about being among the first to take the vaccine, and I fully believe that this is the first of many significant steps that I along with each of us must take in order to help stop the spread of this virus that is devastating our communities.
“My district has been hit hardest by this deadly pandemic, with many loved ones taken from us far too soon. As the virus continues to overwhelm our hospitals and emergency personnel, we each have a responsibility and role to play and must answer the call to action to help keep our families safe, our communities strong and to help us rebuild and recover from the impact this pandemic has had on each of us and our economy.
“I have answered that call and encourage my constituents to do the same as the vaccine becomes widely available and accessbile throughout the district. I implore everyone to continue wearing a face mask, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and socially distance for your health and for the safety of those around you. We will get through this together and united and we will build back stronger and better than ever before.”
Brewer Calls on City to Stop Transfer of COVID-19 Patients
Last Saturday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) rallied with electeds, activists and nursing home residents to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and NYC Health + Hospitals to stop their plan to reopen a COVID hospital inside the Coler Rehabilitation & Nursing Care Center.
In the past three weeks, 14 Color staff members and two residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Brewer and her peers worry that transferring new COVID patients to the community would exacerbate the spread.
“I strongly oppose transferring outside patients to the Coler/RIMC campus,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I call on Mayor de Blasio and Dr. Mitchell Katz to work closely with local elected officials and community leaders to address these significant concerns and balance the need to control the pandemic without putting this special population at risk.”
Williams Chastises NYPD for Response to George Floyd Protests
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) released a statement last Saturday in response to a report from the city Department of Investigation (DOI), regarding the botched NYPD response to the George Floyd protests over the summer.
According to the report, the mostly peaceful demonstrations triggered several violent conflicts between police officers and citizens. It cited “widespread allegations” that the NYPD used excessive force against protesters and demonstrators.
“I truly hope that now the administration will finally be willing to recognize the scope and severity of its spectacular failures in this area, and reckon with the structural inadequacies and systemic injustices that have brought us to this moment,” said Williams. “We need change, but we cannot simply wait for action from an entity that took five years to fire Daniel Pantaleo. We need sustained civic action and strong civilian oversight to demand better systems and leadership as we work to redefine public safety. These efforts need to come with more rapid and robust accountability for the NYPD.
“This summer, the de Blasio administration’s response to a protest movement centered on overpolicing and overaggression was to send more police and to be more aggressive. Throughout that period and since, the Mayor and Commissioner have repeatedly insisted that they haven’t seen the video, haven’t seen what we all experienced. I’m hopeful that now they’ve at least seen the report.”