Walker Brings LGBTQ, BLM Activism to Bed-Stuy Council Race

City Council Candidate Jason L. Walker

Community organizer and activist Jason L. Walker has decided to make a bid for District 36’s ever expanding city council race.

Walker is a Black queer liberationist or a staunch supporter of LGBTQIA+ and Black Lives Matter politics and public policies that affect vulnerable communities, he said. He said he believes strongly in advocating for social justice mostly because as a member of these marginalized groups his life “depends on it” and often the implementation of policies misses him and his community.

Originally from Washington, D.C, Walker moved to New York in 2012 where he hit the ground running with his first volunteer position as a program assistant for S.O.S (Save Our Streets) in Brooklyn. “They really engage young people from a place of community and from a place of shared understanding. It’s definitely a way to reduce gun violence,” said Walker.

Walker comes from a long line of activists, including his grandfather, Leonard Van Dyke, who was the first Black councilman elected to office in Kingston, NY. Van Dyke, and his wife, Vera, were instrumental in breaking down barriers to equality for the Black community upstate in Kingston back in the 1960s. They also both held leadership roles in the Kingston branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Congress of Racial Justice (CORE).

Walker said he grew up in a Black liberationist church down south and missed the richness in diversity and Black culture he had always known. It was a cultural environment he didn’t find again until he got to Bedford Stuyvesant, he said.

“A lot of the same issues, like gentrification and homelessness D.C., has faced too,” said Walker. 

After his first community job in Brooklyn, he said, Hurricane Sandy changed everything. He said he found himself homeless after ending an abusive relationship in a waterlogged city. He eventually landed in a shelter in Harlem, where he spent the next seven years organizing other LGBT youth also experiencing homelessness at VOCAL New York.

On the topic of preventing homelessness in the district, he said he’d ensure that new developments had up to 25 percent of their units dedicated to people living in the shelter system. In that same vein, he’d make sure the voucher system meets fair market rents for quality housing, which he doesn’t think it does now.

He plans on fully funding the NYC Commission On Human Rights to adequately defend against discrimination in housing and enforcement of the current laws. 

Walker said he is a prison abolitionist, meaning he firmly believes in the closing Rikers Island initiative but also is against building new jails.  

“We have to move away from the concept of putting people in prison, that’s not a just concept,” said Walker. “Our prison system doesn’t work. it isn’t in the service if the individual families not communities and there’s ample amount of data and research from a personal level to academics that really says how incarceration doesn’t strengthen, it just hurts them.”

As part of his platform, he said, he’d redirect funds into restorative justice processes that create more community infrastructure instead and address the underlying issues that cause people to end up incarcerated. He said he’d strengthen mental health outreach for violent offenders, and decriminalize drug use and drug users.  

 

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