NEW YORK – Ahead of the State of the City address tonight, the New York Civil Liberties Union released seven key steps Mayor de Blasio should take as he enters his second term in order to make New York a more just and equal city.
The Mayor took office four years ago promising to end New York’s “tale of two cities,” and the NYCLU acknowledges the city has improved in important ways. School safety is up, suspensions are down and zero-tolerance policies are dialed back. Universal pre-K provides early education to thousands of students and financial relief to families. The use of stop-and-frisk has plummeted, and new legislation will reduce arrests for low-level offenses.
Yet four years in, the NYCLU reports that injustice remains a fact of life. New York City schools are the most segregated in the nation, and have more police officers present than guidance counselors or social workers. Communities of color still experience over-policing, and the NYPD still maintains a secretive and reform-resistant culture. Rikers Island remains a nightmare that the NYCLU says must be closed.
“In the last four years we have seen real progress, from improved school discipline policies to cratering stop-and-frisk numbers, but the Mayor has a long road ahead to make New York City the fairest big city in America,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “New Yorkers of color are over-policed, Rikers is still an island of horrors, and our classrooms are the most segregated in the country. The city and its immigrant communities are targets of the Trump regime. Mayor de Blasio has four years to finish what he started – to rewrite the tale of two cities and ensure New York works for all New Yorkers, and also stands up to the worst ambitions of Trump and Sessions.”
The following are the NYCLU’s seven recommended steps for the Mayor to take at the outset of his second term:
Combat Trump’s War on Immigrants
Fortify NYC’s sanctuary status by ensuring all immigrants, regardless of their backgrounds, can access legal services and deportation defense, and that they can freely visit public facilities. Halt any official or tacit NYPD collaboration with ICE. Limit the role of police in schools so incidents do not trigger ICE involvement.
Transform School Climate
Build on progress reducing suspensions and arrests in schools by supporting conflict resolution. End automatic, long-term suspensions and provide support and resources for restorative justice practices. Limit the NYPD’s role in schools to the most serious situations, and keep officers out of school discipline decision-making.
Grow Police & Community Trust
Further reduce the enforcement against low-level offenses like farebeating, which funnels people into the criminal justice system and flags immigrants for Trump’s deportation agenda. Hold the NYPD and police officers accountable for misconduct, and stop the overbroad interpretation of civil rights law 50-a that keeps police misconduct records secret.
End Deep-Rooted Segregation in Schools
Redouble work with community stakeholders to improve diversity and equity in city schools. Start by ending reliance on a single high-stakes test for admission to the city’s specialized high schools.
Protect Protest Rights
Prevent the NYPD from targeting protesters or subjecting them to unequal treatment. Ensure artists and photographers are not hassled or arrested because they take a photo, make a video or display their work. Open up 5th Avenue to protests.
Speed up plans to shutter Rikers Island by dramatically reducing its population. Limit arrests for low-level offenses and support statewide efforts to reform New York’s broken bail system so that no one sits in jail because they are too poor to buy their freedom.
Support Families & Gender Equity
Make sure all municipal employees, including teachers, receive Paid Family Leave, so that they can spend time the time they need with a newborn child or care for a sick relative.