Bklyn Lawmakers on the Move Feb. 17, 2021

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Williams Call for DOJ Investigation of Racial Disparities in COVID Response

Jumaane Williams
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams along with local elected officials will renew his call today for the Department of Justice to investigate the city and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on racial disparities that have persisted throughout the last year and are currently evident in vaccine distribution data, including the newly released rates of vaccination by zip code. 

This data shows that vaccines were given at much higher rates in whiter and more economically advantaged neighborhoods compared to communities of color and lower-income neighborhoods. Williams first called for an investigation in May of 2020.

This new call follows the revelation that the Cuomo administration deliberately withheld information about the true toll of COVID-19 in nursing homes in order to avoid an investigation by the Department of Justice.

The electeds will renew this call in a virtual press conference slated for 12 noon, today, Feb. 17. The virtual media availability will be held via Zoom. Reporters can join by registering here, and it will stream for the public here

Cumbo Puts Word Out for $10 Million in Fed Grants

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) is putting out the word that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) posted preliminary guidance relating to Shuttered Venue Operator grants (SVO grants).

Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

Curtains Up NYC is a City of New York program that offers free application assistance for NYC businesses and nonprofits connected to live performance applying for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program of the federal government.

Colton Rallies Against Putting Mentally Ill Homeless into Homeless Shelters

Assembly Member William Colton

Assemblyman William Colton (D–Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights) yesterday put out a statement saying that mentally ill homeless people should receive appropriate treatment to prevent them from committing violent crimes, and not be placed into homeless shelters without any mental health services. 

“A homeless man with a history of violence was charged Sunday with horrific stabbings on the A train line which left two people dead and two others wounded. My question is why was this person still out on the streets and the subways? Why was he placed at the Brooklyn homeless shelter at 279 Butler Street and why is the city continuing to fund more of these homeless shelters? Judges and DA’s must not let persons with a history of violence out. We must lock up those who commit crimes of violence and provide mental health services to those who need it before they commit such crimes requiring them to be imprisoned,” said Colton.

“Yes, we need another 1,000 police officers on the subways to restore the number present back in 1995. The city must place more mental health workers on both the streets and the subways reaching out to such persons in need of mental health help. We must use Kendra’s Law to involuntarily treat such dangerous persons before they go on violent sprees. There are too much talk and too little action!” Colton added.

Myrie Gives COVID, State Gov Updates 

State Senator Zellnor Myrie
State Senator Zellnor Myrie

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park), yesterday said in his e-newsletter that the state is significantly expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Beginning this week, all adults with qualifying underlying medical conditions are now eligible to get vaccinated. You can find the current list of eligible underlying conditions here.

Indoor dining has also resumed in New York City at 25 percent capacity, and next week public middle school students enrolled in the hybrid learning model will return to in-person learning. The Governor has also announced that, beginning next week, subway service will be extended until 2 a.m. and resume at 4 a.m. daily, adding two more hours of critical service for off-hours commuters.

“As you may know, one of my legislative priorities has been to remedy deep inequities in our state’s criminal legal system. Many people are surprised to learn that, while it’s illegal for you to lie to the government, it is perfectly legal for the government to lie to you during a criminal interrogation,” wrote Myrie.

“Under current New York law, the police may use deception during an interrogation (for example, saying your fingerprints were found at the crime scene when they were not). There are many examples of innocent people falsely confessing to crimes they did not commit, based on these deceptive interrogations. False confessions entrap innocent people, diminish trust in our justice system, and harm public safety by diverting attention from the true perpetrators of crime. 

I’m proud to sponsor legislation that would ban the use of deceptive interrogations, and ensure that all confessions are assessed for reliability before being used in a criminal proceeding. I am grateful to be working alongside advocates in support of this legislation, and look forward to advancing it soon,” he added.