Albany, NY– In response to the violent arrest of a staff member at a demonstration at the Capitol, Jessica Wisneski, Co-Executive Director at Citizen Action of New York, released the following statement: 

“One of our staff members was violently arrested by Capitol police today while participating in a demonstration in support of housing justice. 

Salka Valerio was part of a group of more than 1,000 New Yorkers rallying at the Capitol in support of Good Cause tenant protections to ensure that renters in this state can’t be evicted for no good reason. During the course of the demonstration, dozens of peaceful protestors were arrested. This demonstration was civil disobedience in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

Unfortunately, four Capitol police officers chose to use violence against Salka. After a tense verbal interaction with a Capitol police inspector, Salka turned and walked away in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. The officer followed her. Then three officers threw her to the ground and the chief inspector joined the assault. This is the type of brutal behavior that breeds mistrust between our communities and the police. Salka posed no danger to the officers or to anyone else and there was no justification for that level of force.

This is yet another disturbing example of police using excessive force against a Black woman. It is another example of police using excessive force in an attempt to silence peaceful demonstrators. These demonstrators are exercising their fundamental right and democratic obligation to petition their government to protect the inherent dignity of New Yorkers. We condemn this violence by Capitol police, and we stand with Salka and every person who risked arrest by showing up in our Capitol today to demand housing justice for all New Yorkers.”