Erik was already working in City Council as New York became the nerve center for the Occupy Wall Street movement against economic inequality. During that time, we witnessed gross police violations against Constitutional rights and civil liberties, as the NYPD cracked-down on activists. That period also coïncided with the tail end of the Bloomberg administration, which faced a legal challenge that ended the unconstitutional and racist stop-and-frisk tactics that mainly targeted people of colour. Throughout, we never heard Erik disown the City Government’s full-funding of unlawful brutality and de jure discrimination by the NYPD.
The decades of police brutality and discrimination reached a flashpoint with the death of Eric Garner in 2014. His family lived for a time in our District following Mr. Garner’s homicide by the NYPD. The demands for police accountability never became a central policy issue for Erik, a foreshadowing of things to come.
As Corey’s right hand man, Erik largely kept quiet as Corey supported the 2015 expansion in the size of the City’s police force. Later, once that political stance became unpopular, Corey tried to disown his 2015 support for the police.
During the George Floyd-inspired, large-scale demonstrations against police brutality and unprosecuted homicides by police, Erik again never used his position as the Chief of Staff to the Council Speaker to institute any kind of police accountability, much less police reform. We have yet to see Erik use his position to end Government-sanctioned discrimination, brutality, or homicide. Yet, Erik unironically asks us for our vote in the next election.
From calling to defund the NYPD by $2 billion per year to creating a new Government Agency for public safety (so we don’t respond to every community need with a police officer carrying a deadly firearm), Marni Halasa offers new policy ideas to help us recover from the pandemic and to create new systems to end systemic racism and discrimination.
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Cuomo, de Blasio, Johnson and Bottcher. More of the same is not what we need.