“The disturbing video of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers arresting Jazmine Headley and prying her son from her arms speaks for itself. However, the problems with this incident are hardly isolated to the NYPD. It is unacceptable that Human Resources Administration (HRA) has such little capacity to handle its core functions that folks seeking their assistance must sit on the floor with their children while waiting for an appointment. Furthermore, none of this would have happened had HRA security officers handled the situation appropriately from the outset. We also have to ask ourselves why the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office sought a full stay-away order of protection for the child, and a judge granted it. This incident reflects a wide range of problems with our justice system, which too often criminalizes poverty, disproportionately punishes petty behavior, and reactively separates parents from children without considering the lasting damage this causes to parent and child.
“The actions by both HRA and NYPD call for a serious examination of why multiple City agencies would employ such draconian measures in response to an almost nonexistent problem. There should be real consequences for those involved. I will be meeting with Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Steven Banks and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill to discuss how this could have happened and what mechanisms are in place so that this type of situation never occurs again. I will also be calling District Attorney Gonzalez and the Office of Court Administration (OCA) to discuss their roles in this disturbing incident.”