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By David Cruz

Torres’ progressive pedigree went national in 2016 when he drew the attention of then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, taking him on a tour of public housing. The day of the New York presidential primary, Torres endorsed Sanders, calling him a “special phenomenon in progressive politics.” (Torres eventually endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election.)

But the following year, something changed.

Having stayed true to his progressive roots, it came as a shock to supporters when he agreed to water down the Right To Know Act, which would have forced officers to provide a business card in every encounter with the public. Such a bill was seen as a great leap toward police transparency following the abusive years of stop and frisk, a tactic that dramatically decreased during the de Blasio years.

Then things took an unexpected turn: Torres compromised, agreeing to omit more stringent components of the bill – such as providing a business card during traffic stops – following closed-door talks with the de Blasio administration and the NYPD.

“I stand by what I have chosen to do, even if it means standing alone,” Torres said ahead of the vote in December 2017. “Even if it means I am no longer beloved in progressive circles.”

Looking back, Torres said compromise was the best route, particularly when the mayor, speaker and NYPD opposed the bill.

“There are activists who have trouble understanding the concept of compromise. I was not the dictator of New York. I could not impose 100% of the Right to Know Act,” Torres said. “I came to conclude that some progress is better than none at all.”

His decision angered progressive groups like Jews For Racial and Economic Justice, which had been pushing for the original bill. They believed he would be in their corner. Torres, after all, took part in rallies in support of the bill, standing alongside Linda Sarsour, then executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and ardent Israel critic. Torres would “never be caught in a space with her” today, said Sophie Ellman-Golan, a member of Jews For Racial and Economic Justice.

“Instead of following through on what he’d promised of always being in touch with the families and always keeping these directly impacted people in the loop, he did not make any effort to try to update these families,” Ellman-Golan said of the Right to Know Act changes. “And then instead of being open to hearing that feedback and being able to have this honest conversation, he lashed out, which I think is a common thread we’ve seen him do now.”

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