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Rebuilding New York: The 2021 Agenda

Introduction: Rebuilding and Reclaiming New York 

In 2018, New Yorkers voted for change and new leadership in the state Senate after years of obstruction and stasis in Albany. Lawmakers responded with a wave of unprecedented action that ushered in victories for racial justice, immigrants’ and workers’ rights, reproductive health, voting access, privacy protections, and police accountability. 

The backlash to these hard-fought wins was swift and unrelenting. Vociferous, reactionary forces insisted that legislators had gone too far and that voters would soon make them pay. 

They were wrong. 

Instead, New Yorkers re-elected lawmakers who supported these changes and voted in even more candidates who promised to keep the momentum going. Now Democrats enjoy a large majority in the Assembly and a super-majority in the Senate. They – along with Governor Andrew Cuomo – are firmly in control of what happens next. 

This new class of lawmakers faces a set of immense challenges. Chief among them is the pandemic that continues to rage, with New Yorkers dying every day. Covid has revealed the failures and deep inequalities of our society – along gender, race, and economic lines. 

In New York, as in the rest of the country, poor people of color have disproportionately felt the virus’s impact. Some of them are trapped in prisons and jails where they cannot practice social distancing. Others are forced to work under dangerous conditions without adequate safety protections or access to child care. And still others are immigrants who avoid seeking help from the government because they fear it will lead to their families being torn apart. 

Working class people of color across the state have suffered most from Covid, and they must be at the center of our recovery.

America’s failure to effectively fight the pandemic is directly tied to the incompetence of Donald Trump, who left office the same way he entered it – by inciting a mob of white supremacists. The storming of the Capitol by insurrectionists should leave no doubt that our democratic institutions, and our societal structures, must be strengthened. 

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union