What does it mean to “defund the police?” The question is being asked again as communities across the nation clash with police as a result of more recent police killings. When I say “defund the police,” I say it because I believe that if our leaders invested more into reducing harm rather than simply responding to harm, we’d all be better off. Police budgets are inflated; our public schools are sorely underfunded. The rich keep getting richer, while the poor are constantly exploited. One of the roots of modern policing in the U.S. is the slave patrols of the South that punished slaves who ran away from plantations. We’re thinking about what makes us feel safe, and right now, policing is doing more harm to already traumatized communities. We ask to defund the police so that that money can be invested into programs that address the root causes of harm. Defunding the police is not about denying the need for public safety, but it acknowledges that the current system does not work. Systemic change is needed. Now.
Around the State
Derek Chauvin Verdict
The guilty verdict was read as we gathered for one of our weekly staff calls. Rightfully so, George Floyd’s murderer was found guilty on all charges—second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. While we are relieved that Derek did not walk free, one conviction will not solve all problems with policing. During the trial, Daunte Wright was killed by police, as was 16-year-old Ma’Khia Byrant in Ohio. In response to the guilty verdict in George Floyd Case, Stanley Fritz, our political director, said “This verdict is not the systemic culture change needed to put an end to these constant attacks on our people.” Click here to read our full statement.
Rally at Foley Square to end to Police Violence
This week, our Political Director Stanley Fritz joined activist and community leaders with Make the Road NY, VOCAL-NY, Change the NYPD, Center for Popular Democracy, Girls for Gender Equity, Justice Committee, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and others, for a rally in NYC to demand real justice in the form of an end to unjust police killings. The rally was held following the verdict in the Geroge Floyd case and uplifted the countless families who have suffered at the hands of police. There are many families mourning the loss of their loved ones who were unjustly killed by police.
New York City Mayoral Endorsements
With primary election day less than two months away, Citizen Action of New York has decided to endorse Scott Stringer (Ranked 1), and Dianne Morales (Ranked 2) in the NYC Mayor’s race. Scott and Dianne share a vision for New York City that values regular New Yorkers over developers and are prepared to lead the city in a post-Covid recovery on day one. Click here to read our full announcement.
Western New York Endorsements
This week, our Western New York chapter rolled out a slate of endorsements for Buffalo City Court Judge and Erie County Legislature. Citizen Action of New York is backing Rebecca Town, Joel C. Moore and Phillip Dabney, Jr., who is running for re-election. Click here to read our full announcement about our endorsement for City Court Judge.
Citizen Action is also backing Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin for re-election in District 2. Click here to read our full announcement about April’s endorsement.
Rochester Rolls Out Endorsements
Our Rochester chapter has announced endorsements for Monroe County Legislature. Citizen Action is backing Democratic candidates Sherita Traywick in District 19, Rachel Barnhart in District 21, Rajesh Barnabas in District 24 and Dorian Hall in District 25. Citizen Action is also backing Kim Smith, Jasmin Reggler, Stanley Martin and Brittan Hardgers for Rochester City Council. Click here to read our full announcement.
The chapter also announced its endorsement of Democratic candidates Camille Simmons and Joshua Bauroth for Rochester City School Board, Robin Wilt for Brighton Henrietta Town Board, and Jenna Curcio for Greece Town Board. Click here to read more.
New York has a Poison Lead Problem
New York has the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning than anywhere else in the U.S., with thousands of children testing positive every year. The impacts of lead poisoning can be felt all around our state.
Citizen Action is leading a coalition to pass legislation to end lead poisoning in New York, especially for children who can be irreversibly damaged by even the smallest dose. Our lead bill would make it mandatory for ALL counties in New York to regularly inspect homes that are likely to contain lead, and create a statewide database of lead violations so that they can be easily tracked and monitored, and support can be provided where needed. We’re currently doing outreach in communities impacted by lead in preparation for the launch of our Lead-Free NY campaign. If you or someone you know has been impacted by lead poisoning and would like to share your/their story, click here to connect to a community organizer at a chapter near you.
Hardship Declaration Form is Available to Tenants
New York’s Hardship Declaration Form is available to tenants who are at risk for eviction. Tenants can submit the form to avoid facing eviction or unnecessary court proceedings until at least May 1. Click here to access the Hardship Declaration Form.
“This eviction moratorium was won through relentless tenant organizing, but its protections are only as strong as its implementation. Tenants must be made aware of their rights in order to assert them, and landlords and judges must be held accountable in ensuring this happens.” – Rebecca Garrard, a tenant advocate and Campaigns Manager for Housing Justice.
Federal Action Team
Our collective work to elect a new President and a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate has kicked open the door to change, and we’re ready to run (and/or dance) through it!
We’re part of a national network of people gearing up to stand strong for what we need from our federal government. New Yorkers are in a key position to move the national agenda because Senator Chuck Schumer has replaced Mitch McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader.
A bold relief package is a necessary first step toward an equitable and transformative recovery, and we won’t stop there—we’re building a Federal Take Action Team that we will activate when there are opportunities for real change on the federal level. Join us: cit.ac/federalaction
We can’t wait to build even more power with you!
Black Children Matter
Saturday, April 24 at 3 p.m.
Join our Southern Tier chapter on Saturday for a rally and march to uplift those lives cut short by police violence, and protect our local children from further abuses from law enforcement and the school district alike. Location: 100 Beethoven Street, Rec Park, Binghamton (Near playground/gazebo). Rally and speak-out, followed by a march. For more information, contact Salka, the chapter’s community organizer at (607) 322-6261 or via email at email@example.com.
May Day Good Cause Actions
Saturday, May 1
May 1, May Day, is International Workers Day, a day to celebrate and uplift the labor movement and contributions of all workers worldwide. Given the severity of New York’s eviction crisis, we’re also standing with workers to demand passage of Good Cause legislation, which would protect tenants from unjust evictions.
Time: 1 p.m. at Albany Medical Center and 3 p.m. at Washington Park
Contact Gabe Silva for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York City
Time: 12:15 – 4:30 p.m. at Brower Park, Brooklyn
Contact Kylyn Grier for more information: email@example.com
Time: 12 p.m. at 129 Main St. Binghamton
Contact Salka Valerio for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Breaking the Cycle
Tuesday, May 4 & Wednesday, May 5 from 6-8 p.m.
This is our workshop where we explore the motivations and drivers of the criminal legal system, including policing and mass incarceration. We do this as a way to redefine safety in our lives and communities. Click here to register.
Reversing Runaway Inequality
1-4 pm on Saturday 5/22 & Sunday 5/23
We will discuss both what the current inequality looks like and how it came to be. Our economic system was built on exploitation of Black and brown people and, in order to achieve economic justice, we must understand and dismantle the racism inherent in the system. Click here to register.
Join the Movement
Citizen Action of New York is building power in communities across the state. Our members are the reason we’re able to do effective grassroots organizing and achieve justice for our communities. Our members give what they can when they can, and each contribution is directly invested in local leadership development. Click here to support.
There are many ways to get involved right now. Click here to contact a Citizen Action chapter in your area and ask how you can get involved locally.
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” – Malcolm X