Albany, NY — In response to protests across New York State yesterday demanding an end to police violence against Black people, Rosemary Rivera and Jess Wisneski, Co-Executive Directors of Citizen Action of New York, released the following statement:

“The anguish and frustration of generations of violence against Black people is raw and apparent in the cities across our state today. This is a national exhalation of grief. We share in the frustration that years of peaceful protest and pressure have not moved our elected officials to take action.

The violence happening across America falls at the feet of the elected officials responsible for perpetuating a system that destabilizes and divests from communities instead of building them up. The call to stop violence must begin with stopping the emotional, psychological and economic violence against Black people in our country.

A prime example of elected leaders’ lack of action is Governor Cuomo’s daily national gaslighting spectacle. Governor Cuomo’s response today to the hurt so many are experiencing was to “welcome an empowered citizenry that demands equity in education” – a demand that self-empowered parents, students and community leaders across New York have spent years fighting to have the governor acknowledge. “I propose it every year,” he said. But for the decade that Governor Cuomo has been in office, his budgets have kept Black and Brown schools underfunded while the gap between wealthy and low-income schools continues to grow. Homelessness has skyrocketed. Half of the children in Rochester, Schenectady and Buffalo live in poverty. All the while, he blocks tax increases on billionaires and the ultra rich that are desperately needed to reinvest in Black and Brown communities.

State leaders must pass and implement meaningful laws that end the over-policing and criminalization of Black people and that transform an economic and social system rooted in racism. We stand with the communities of Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and New York City today, demanding immediate action and relief from elected officials. The State Legislature and Governor must:

  • Pass the Safer NY Act and repeal Law 50-a, which has been used to shield law enforcement from accountability by preventing access to records regarding acts of misconduct by police officers

  • Make billionaires pay and commit deep investments in Black and Brown communities – from ending educational inequity, to guaranteeing housing and health care for all

  • Cut school district ties with local police departments and replace “school resource officers” with social workers and counselors with the skills to help our students heal

  • Pass legislation to create culturally responsive school curriculum and positive school climate, increase teacher diversity and invest in sustainable community schools.

Citizen Action will continue to organize with communities across the state and make our demands heard non-violently in the halls of power and in the streets. De-escalation and healing must begin with public policy that centers the lives and well-being of Black and Brown people.”