A recent Community Board 7 meeting began with a moment of silence lead by Chairman Mark Diller, to observe this moment in history, and to recognize the loss in our community and nation at this time.
Health and Human Services co-chair, Sheldon Fine, introduced a resolution regarding the murder of George Floyd. He began by reading the introduction to the resolution. “Our Community is saddened and sickened by the horrific murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. We acknowledge that in New York City and around the country, we continue to experience incident after incident, in which police have engaged in the use of excessive force against members of the Black community.”
The resolution states that CB7 will stand in solidarity with those demanding justice for George Floyd. The board also commends police officers who have “acted with restraint and in support of peace and justice; and those who stood in solidarity with protesters by taking a knee during the protests.”
The resolution calls for multiple actions of accountability at many levels of government:
First, it demands that the Attorney General and prosecutors in the State of Minnesota prosecute the officers involved in George Floyd’s murder to the fullest extent of the law.
Second, it calls upon the Attorney General of the United States to “move expeditiously to investigate and take appropriate action with respect to the violation of the civil rights of George Floyd.”
Finally, the resolution condemns police brutality and “calls upon our Mayor and Police Commissioner to take action to ensure that all police activity in apprehending individuals in the line of duty is commensurate with the actions or offenses of city residents they are apprehending.”
There was some discussion about invoking the Attorney General of the United States to look into these matters, as some members questioned why the focus shouldn’t be on the state level. Mr. Fine stated that “at this point, we’re calling upon the Attorney General to get involved to make sure things are done right,” but noted that the state of Minnesota has a critical responsibility as well.
The resolution also points to the NYPD’s mission “to enhance the quality of life in New York City by working in partnership with the community to enforce the law, preserve peace, protect the people, reduce fear, and maintain order.”
There was conversation around how to acknowledge that while some police have “not behaved well,” it was important to commend the vast majority of officers who have shown discipline. Two members highlighted the instances when police have taken a knee with protestors.
Board Member Page Cowley said that she did not think that writing a resolution was the best way to go to address this issue. She felt it seemed too “governmental” and “businesslike.” What she suggested instead was a letter. “I don’t recall anything apart from the assassination of Martin Luther King, another death that was filmed as up close and personal, where America [has] been so touched. I would prefer that this letter be softer, not our normal demands, but [to send] condolences to the family at a time of grief.” She suggested that everyone sign the letter with his or her names to show a more human touch.
But at the end of the conversation, the board decided to proceed with the resolution, with 47 In Favor, 0 Against, and 0 Abstentions
Upper West Side City Council 6th District member Helen Rosenthal issued a statement about what she is doing to address the civil unrest on the streets of NYC. She stated that “like many of you, I feel pain, anger, and heartbreak today—and as an elected official, I am channeling it into action.” In an Instagram post she mentions all of the items she is working on and bringing to the City Council.
Rosenthal lists that she was a co-sponsor of a resolution to repeal NYS Section 50-A, an early co-sponsor of a law to ban chokeholds, a co-sponsor of Int. 1309-2018, which would push for transparency on police misconduct, and that she has requested legislation to require NYPD officers to report any use of excessive force.
“We need to do more than cut the NYPD budget,” she writes. “We must end the lack of NYPD accountability for generations of perpetrating harm upon the very communities they pledge to serve.” Rosenthal is committed to shifting funding from the NYPD to other humanitarian programs. She uses the hashtag #defundNYPD to sum up her statement.
With so many issues facing our community, it’s important to stay up to date with what elected officials and community boards are doing. For more information about CB7 please find their website here.
You can also sign up for Helen Rosenthal’s newsletter at www.helenrosenthal.com