Frontus/Montgomery Central Park 5 Bill Gets Signed
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus (D-Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bay Ridge) and State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope) saw their Central Park 5 bill, requiring video recording of all juveniles accused of delinquency in family court get signed into law this week.
The legislation (S.6533/A.7970) closed a provision where previously, video recordings were required only in the few cases where minors were accused of violent felonies.
“When the power of law enforcement is focused on minors, we must make sure that they are not coerced or manipulated into confessing to something that is not true,” Frontus said. “What happened to the Central Park 5, who we now refer to as the Exonerated 5, should never happen to any child, and the way to ensure that is with the transparency that these recordings will provide.”
“Even though we passed Raise the Age, there are still so many corners of the juvenile justice system that need to be addressed,” Montgomery said. “These coercive situations are not uncommon. Our children should never find themselves in a room alone with law enforcement and no record of the interaction.”
The bill was named for the Central Park 5, who were all juveniles when they were convicted of sexually assaulting a jogger in 1989. They later become known as the Exonerated 5 when their convictions were overturned following identification of the real attacker. Each of the Exonerated 5 defendants endured hours of interrogation without an adult present and served years in prison for a crime they did not commit. The City of New York has paid out $45 million in settlements with the Exonerated 5 defendants, whose story was detailed in the series When They See Us.
Williams, Persaud Gives Toys for Christmas
Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D-Canarsie, Georgetown, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach) along with State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D- Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Old Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill, Starrett City), other lawmakers and community helpers helped distribute toys to over 200 children in a 59 A.D. 2020 Holiday Toy Drive Distribution.
“The times we are in are tough enough and we are fortunate to be able to bring some much-needed additional smiles to our district and most importantly our children. In this holiday season, these gifts given to all of the wonderful children and families make a world of difference in their lives, especially this year in particular. Their appreciation is not shown in words but in their pure hearted gestures of hugs and smiles.” remarked Williams.
Clarke’s Bill to Protect Against Fentanyl Passes
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke’s (D-East Flatbush, Central Brooklyn) legislation to protect Americans from exposure to synthetic opioids (like fentanyl) passed both in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
In the coming days, this bill will be signed into law by the President. The Synthetic Opioid Exposure Prevention and Training Act (H.R. 4739) will require mandatory safety measures so the workers screening packages and cargo entering our country can properly and safely screen for fentanyl and other synthetic opioids at our borders and in airports, like New York’s JFK Airport.
“Empowering our workers who screen packages in our airports and at our borders to feel safe when looking for fentanyl helps keep this deadly drug off our streets while protecting these workers from accidental exposure and potential death. I’m proud that my legislation, The Synthetic Opioid Exposure Prevention and Training Act is being signed into law– this means less synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, will be imported into the U.S., and thus less will make it into our communities. Our workers should have peace of mind as they protect the American people by safely screening for these deadly drugs,” said Clarke.
AG James on Reproductive Health
New York Attorney General Letitia James continued to fight for reproductive health rights.
In an amicus brief — filed in Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, et al. v. Herbert Slatery, et al. — James and the coalition contest the constitutionality of two abortion bans enacted in the state of Tennessee, and urge the court to affirm a lower court injunction that prevents enforcement of the state law that would create barriers to safe, legal abortions and that would disproportionately impact Black, minority, and low-income women. The attorneys general argue that the laws place unconstitutional restrictions on a woman’s right to choose and that they do not promote women’s health care overall.
“Time and again, Tennessee has used its power to try and turn back the clocks and unconstitutionally restrict women’s reproductive rights,” said James. “This is just another power grab by politicians willing to sacrifice a woman’s right to access an abortion in the process, but we are standing up against these bans because Tennessee’s unlawful efforts to deny women their constitutionally-guaranteed rights will not go unchallenged. This is about protecting women’s bodies, their freedoms, and their choices.”
Colton Praises Cuomo for Reopening Covid Rent Relief Program
Assemblyman William Colton (D-Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights) says that Governor Cuomo has reopened applications for NYS COVID Rent Relief Program with expanded eligibility.
“New York State Homes and Community Renewal has announced that the COVID Rent Relief Program was reopened on Friday, December 18th with expanded eligibility criteria to serve tenants who may have been previously ineligible or did not initially apply. Applications will be accepted through Monday, February 1, 2021,” Colton stated.
“Under the new criteria, households no longer need to have been rent burdened prior to the pandemic to qualify. (Rent burden is defined as paying more than 30 percent of monthly gross income toward rent.) HCR will be re-evaluating all denied applications, so residents who previously applied for COVID Rent Relief will not have to reapply,” Colton said.
“The COVID Rent Relief Program was created by the Legislature to help tenants and landlords face the enormous financial challenges caused by the pandemic. I’m pleased that access to the program has been expanded in order to allow more New Yorkers to receive this vital assistance,” Colton said.
“My office is open to provide information to help tenants on this and other such programs in these difficult times. If you need any assistance whether you applied for this program before and got denied, then please call 718-236-1598 or visit 155 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY 1223,” Colton added.
Adams Wants to Lock Down on Incoming British
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams demanded greater restrictions on incoming travelers from the United Kingdom (UK) in response to the detection of a new contagious mutation of COVID-19 in the UK.
“As we face a likely second wave of COVID-19 here in New York, and as we anticipate a potential surge in cases due to the holidays, the threat of a new mutation first detected in the United Kingdom is a real cause for concern. All viruses mutate over time and new mutations are common, including for the novel coronavirus. While there is still much that is unknown about this new strain, it appears to be more contagious than other variants. We want to thank our friends across the Atlantic for being forthcoming about this new mutation. I believe we must take significant precautions to protect New Yorkers, which is why I am first and foremost calling for the FAA to temporarily ban incoming flights from the United Kingdom. Barring that, the City and State must institute more cautious quarantine measures for all travelers from the UK, the length and details of which should be developed in close consultation with public health officials and informed by science. If the Federal government won’t do all it can to protect New Yorkers, I believe the City and State must step up with this additional layer of travel deterrence and basic security,” said Adams.
On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced that three major airlines that transport travelers from the UK have agreed to require negative COVID tests from all passengers before they board a flight bound for New York City. At this morning’s press conference outside of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Eastern Regional Office, just outside of John F. Kennedy International Airport, Borough President Adams echoed calls for the FAA to temporarily ban travelers from the UK to New York City to protect New Yorkers from the new mutation. Additionally, he presented his own request for the City and State to institute a mandatory quarantine for all travelers from the UK in all of the City’s metropolitan and regional airports, and for travelers to then be required to quarantine in a location designated and monitored by the government.