Jews for Racial & Economic Justice Slams Speaker Mark-Viverito’s anti-Democratic, Back-Room Deal with Bill Bratton as Meaningless

Bratton/Mark-Viverito deal doesn’t make any change or reform, it’s linguistic alteration to a book that is routinely not followed. Call your City Council Member and tell them you want the real Right To Know Act, not a watered-down deal.

Jews For Racial & Economic Justice firmly supports the Right To Know Act and joins over 200 New York organizations, the overwhelming majority of the New York City Council and New York’s Jewish community to demand that New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote. We reject the Speaker’s autocratic back-room deal, made with Commissioner Bratton, that actually weakens the already ineffective language in the Patrol Guide and doesn’t come close to achieving the real reform, transparency and accountability that we need.

This year New York’s Jewish community made its voice heard time and time again — we support the Right To Know Act. More than 50 New York City rabbis signed a letter calling for its passage. Jews showed up in the streets for rallies, canvassed and wrote op-eds. The reason the act has such broad support is that its demands are so simple and so necessary. They will help to restore trust in the police and create a more professional and respectful relationship with the community. After this week of violence and tragedy, as we approach the anniversary of Eric Garner’s death, it could not be more evident that the Right To Know Act is long overdue. This opinion is shared by a majority of City Council members, who support the bill, and by over 200 other New York communities and organizations.

Which is why we are outraged at the anti-Democratic, back-room deal unilaterally negotiated between Commissioner Bratton and Melissa Mark-Viverito. For months, the Speaker has refused to allow the bill to come to a vote. And now she has colluded with Bratton to gut the substance of the bill and enact it not as law, and makebut as a series of linguistic administrative suggestions buried in the Police Patrol Guide — rendered unenforceable and beyond independent oversight and monitoring.

Yesterday was the anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death in police custody. We have just endured a week of terrible violence in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, New York and Dallas, and we are approaching the 2 year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner. And yet even after all of this, New York City has yet to pass a single major police reform bill. How can we ever expect to heal the wounds inflicted by racial bias and police violence if we cannot pass even the most common sense measures to ensure basic professionalism, accountability and respect for civil rights from New York City’s police force? And why should the City Council Speaker get to unilaterally substitute her judgement for the informed opinion of her councilmembers?

The Speaker’s plan entrusts the same NYPD that made almost 700,000 unconstitutional searches between 2002 and 2011 with effectively implementing a policy they fought tooth-and-nail against. The Patrol Guide already calls for officers to identify themselves, yet they regularly ignore this rule and retaliate against those who demand ID; the Patrol Guide already instructs officers on what constitutes a legal search, however the police routinely conduct illegal searches; the Patrol Guide bans chokeholds yet that did nothing to help Eric Garner or the hundreds of other New Yorkers who have reported being choked by the police to the CCRB; and all too often officers search transgender New Yorkers in a traumatizing attempt to investigate their bodies, in direct contradiction with the policies of the Patrol Guide.

These are not reforms - that will only come by passing the Right to Know Actbe reforms if they are passed into law. New York’s Jewish community agrees. The majority of the City Council agrees. Melissa Mark-Viverito should respect her colleagues on the city council and communities from across the city, and allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote. We should pass the Right To Know Act today.

Call your City Council Member and tell them you want the real Right To Know Act, not a watered-down deal.

Help us to spread the word — tweet and post about the Right to Know Act on social media. Here are some sample tweets to get you started:

@MMViverito's deal w/ NYPD for voluntary compliance won’t bring accountability to end NYPD abuses. Democracy = pass the #RightToKnowAct.

"It’s clear that NYPD rules are routinely not followed...or else my son wld be alive 2day"-Gwen Carr #EricGarner mom demands #RightToKnowAct

#RightToKnowAct lead sponsor @RitchieTorres: stand firm on need for legislation for police accountability & real reform

Thank you to #RightToKnowAct sponsor @JumaaneWilliams for standing for legislative #policereforms that advance safety & accountability.

Take the Slant Poll and tell them you reject a "compromise"

More Background:

Communities United For Police Reform

The Right To Know Act Videos

Read Wednesday’s JFREJ Right To Know Act Op-Ed

Read JFREJ’s statement on the killings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and New York last week.

JFREJ’s letter from 53 rabbis supporting the Right To Know Act

Jews support for the Right To Know Act:

Jewish Week

Queens Chronicle

Riverdale Press