The following is the text of a flyer that I wrote and distributed just before the City Council voted on two of the four bills (“Intro’s,” as the Council calls them) of the Community Safety Act. (This is just the text, until I can figure out how to post the flyer with its original formatting.)
Want to help make New York safe for everybody?
Then demand passage of the Community Safety Act.
Four bills in New York City Council—two of which will come up for a vote on June 26—make up the Community Safety Act. Here they are, according to Communities United for Police Reform*, with a little additional commentary from Yours Truly:
Intro. 799 would protect New Yorkers against unlawful searches by police.
Intro. 800 would ban profiling by police officers. I believe this is a good idea. Like many major American cities, New York has a history of police violence and intimidation, notably against unarmed African-American men. We have to put a stop to that, and this bill might be the way to do it.
Intro. 801 would require officers to identify themselves in the course of carrying out activities such as stop-and-frisks. In the lawsuit that challenges the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk, State Senator Eric Adams testified about a conversation he had with Police Commissioner Kelly in 2010, in which Kelly said he was specifically targeting blacks and Latinos. Said Adams: “He stated that he targeted and focused on that group because he wanted to instill fear in them that every time that they left their homes they could be targeted by police.” (New York Daily News, April 1, 2013) If this report on Kelly is accurate, then it clearly shows the racist and discriminatory nature of the stop-and-frisk policy. Requiring officers to ID themselves is at least one way to address the disproportionate use of stop-and-frisk in the city’s lower-income neighborhoods.
Intro. 881 would establish an independent Inspector General to monitor the NYPD. There are Inspectors General overseeing the Los Angeles Police Dept., the FBI, the CIA, and every major agency of New York City government except the NYPD. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason to exempt the Police Dept. from independent oversight.
The reporting on this story, as usual, is not exactly “fair and balanced.” The Daily News and Newsday (whose story was reprinted in amNewYork) give a lot of ink to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly and a good deal less to supporters of the bills. But you don’t have to just drink in what Big Media wants you to believe about what’s happening in your city. If you agree that these bills would be good for New York, call your representative in City Council, Peter Vallone Jr. TODAY—it only takes a minute—at:
And think about making it a demand instead of just a request. Councilmember Vallone, after all, is your employee. You are a resident of the 22nd City Council district. You pay his salary. He serves in Council at your grace. Demanding that he vote the way you want him to vote is your right. Everybody else in Astoria—including, of course, those who disagree with you and me about this legislation—have the same right to demand that he vote No. But you and I want him to vote Yes. Let’s make that clear to him. And, please note: If I am elected, I’ll be ready for the same kind of feedback from the residents of this community.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
Jerry Kann Populist for City Council–District 22, Astoria, Queens
* Communities United for Police Reform does not, to my knowledge, endorse candidates for public office, and my use of the information on one of their flyers does not in any way indicate their support of my candidacy. I did not “clear” that use with them, and I am only using the wording on the flyer the same way I would use information from a newspaper or magazine story. I will always note sources in communications that I produce for this campaign.
Paid for by Kann for Council 2013