Today, Council Member Farah N. Louis (D-BROOKLYN) introduced two pieces of legislation intended to keep the NYPD accountable and increase access to housing services, respectively. 

Introduction 1953, introduced alongside Council Members Carlina Rivera and Rafael Salamanca, will mandate the NYPD to report on its Public Health Enforcement activities. As COVID-19 descended on New York City, sweeping executive orders intended to protect public health were implemented in the interest of flattening the curve. This resulted in the Administration becoming heavily reliant on a police department plagued by a history of racial discrimination to enforce social distancing and face covering mandates. This decision resulted in a series of negative interactions between the police and Black and brown communities, which are already reeling from disparate infection and death rates since this pandemic began.

 Although the Administration and NYPD have ensured that the police will no longer be enforcing these orders, the damage has been done. However, by requiring greater transparency from the NYPD, we can focus on the best ways to implement future public health orders with sensitivity and competency – without police violence. This bill will provide critical data about previous community-police interactions, including the date, time, location, demographics of the individual, outcomes, and whether use of force was employed.

“COVID-19 has further exposed the systemic, institutional racism that causes our Black and brown communities to suffer, and the NYPD is no exception,” said Council Member Louis. My colleagues and I were disappointed in the City’s decision to disregard early calls to place social distancing support responsibilities with community-based organizations that are equipped to convey these orders in a rational, responsible, and culturally competent way. Now, it’s on us to hold these bad actors to account in the names of Donni Wright, Kameelah Rozier, and any Black or brown New Yorker brutalized by police violence. Our communities deserve better.”

“As our City navigates towards a safe reopening, we need an accurate and holistic image of how the NYPD is enforcing public health orders. It is hard to reconcile the different treatment and protocols the NYPD is practicing in predominantly white neighborhoods versus communities of color, and I’m proud to join Council Member Louis in sponsoring this bill to bring us closer to a more transparent and accountable NYPD,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.

Resolution 1324 calls on the city’s Department of Education (DOE) to partner with not-for-profit organizations to provide on-site pro bono legal assistance related to housing issues. The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will make access to housing services even more essential, particularly as the current eviction moratorium does not extend into the coming fall semester. 

This legislation models a successful pilot program implemented in Atlanta, and follows a history of successful partnerships between the DOE and community-based organizations that provide students with a variety of social and health services. By adding housing assistance to this list, the DOE has the opportunity to expand its portfolio of wraparound services in hopes of reducing the number of students who are affected by housing instability.   

“Schools naturally act as community hubs for much-needed academic resources, but COVID-19 has shown us their unique abilities to expand their capacity and provide social services to students and families,” said Council Member Louis. “It’s important to remember this even as we recover from this pandemic, students who are forced to relocate frequently internalize this stress, and it routinely causes them to fall behind in their studies. If we are able to offer families comprehensive assistance in comfortable and safe environments, we should.”

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