Social Justice

Whenever one group is treated differently or denied protection under our laws, it undermines the foundation on which our country was built. Discrimination, whether against two people who love each other and want to marry, against a family whose only transgression is wanting to make a better life for their children in American, or against a religious institution seeking to locate near one of the most contested sites in the city, is patently un-American. The City Council should act as force against hate and intolerance, as well as fighting to bring those who live in the shadows more fully into our society.

Why I’m Sitting for the Pledge of Allegiance Today: With Liberty And Justice For All?

For every New York City Council meeting over the past seven years, I’ve stood, placed my right hand over my heart, and said the Pledge of Allegiance.  

Today, I’ll remain seated, in an act of solidarity and patriotism. Read more »

Council Members Lander and Williams Host Racial Justice Town Hall

Brooklyn, NY -- On Sept. 14, Council Members Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader, and Brad Lander, Chair of the Committee on Rules, hosted the Racial Justice Town Hall at Congregation Beth Elohim, where attendees explored racism, privilege, and the idea of what it meant to be an ally with people of color. The community event, which was hosted in Council Member Lander's district, was created in partnership with Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC) and Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ). Read more »

Press Release: Raising the Floor for Workers in the Gig Economy

New report highlights innovative policies the New York City Council can adopt to strengthen rights, protections, and benefits for gig workers

City Hall, NY -- For Labor Day 2016, New York City Council Member Brad Lander released a new policy report identifying challenges facing workers in the gig economy, and outlining concrete steps that New York City can take to protect gig workers from wage theft and discrimination, as well as longer term efforts to offer portable benefits and a framework for worker organizing.

Since 2005, the “gig economy” has grown dramatically, as companies have sought to shed costs and employer responsibilities. From 2005 to 2015, the number of workers engaged in “alternative work arrangements” (independent contractors, freelancers, temps, on-call, and contract workers) grew by 9.4 million, while the number of traditional employees declined slightly. From graphic designers, to models, to temps, to for-hire drivers, studies show that between 16% and 40% of all workers earn their checks “by the gig” rather than by a traditional hourly or weekly wage. There are an estimated 1.3 million freelance workers in NYC alone.

While these arrangements can bring flexibility, convenience, and lower prices, it is too often workers who bear the cost. Typically classified as independent contractors, gig economy workers lack the rights, protections, and benefits of traditional employees, making it far more difficult to piece together a decent standard of living. More than 70% of freelancers report that they have been victims of wage theft or late payment. Others face discrimination with little recourse. And the IRS estimates that millions of workers have been misclassified as independent contractors when they are truly employees, and thus denied health benefits, retirement security, or paid leave. Read more »

Confronting racism, privilege, and becoming a better ally to people of color in the work for racial justice

From St. Paul to Baton Rouge to right here in NYC, the killings of unarmed young men of color have been a devastating reminder of systemic racism in American communities.

The killings this summer of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile – adding to the list that includes Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and too many more – painfully reminds us how much work remains to be done to end the persistence of racism. And of course, systemic racism pervades far more than our criminal justice system. It’s in our schools, health care, housing, employment, in all the places that matter for creating or stamping out opportunity. Read more »

Join our Muslim neighbors for a peace & unity rally tomorrow

As New Yorkers, we were collectively saddened and angered by the horrific killing of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin last Saturday afternoon in Ozone Park. Our hearts go out to their families, to the Ozone Park community, and to the broader Bangladeshi and Muslim communities.

At moments when hate and violence threaten to disrupt the diversity and tolerance that are the bedrock of NYC, it is critical that we stand together.

So I hope you’ll join a “peace and unity rally” tomorrow, organized by leaders of the Bangladeshi Muslim community in Kensington, Brooklyn.

Peace and Unity Rally  
Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 3:00 PM  
Ave C Plaza
McDonald Avenue at Avenue C
(Near Church Avenue F train stop)
Kensington, Brooklyn Read more »

NYC Council Members Brad Lander, Vanessa L. Gibson, and Jumaane Williams Issue Joint Statement on NYPD IG Report

New York -- Today, Council Member Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader for Policy and Chair of the Council's Committee on Rules, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader and co-chair of the Council's Taskforce to Combat Gun Violence and Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx), Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety issued the following statement regarding the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s Office of the Inspector General report on Quality of Life Summonses, Misdemeanor Arrests, and Felony Crime in New York City from 2010-2015. 

In 2013, Williams and Lander were the prime sponsors of Local Law 70, which established the Office of the NYPD Inspector General.

“We applaud the NYPD Inspector General’s hard look at the impact of aggressive quality-of-life offense enforcement on New Yorkers, which raises critical questions for New Yorkers who care about good policing.

The report finds no clear link between aggressive enforcement of low-level offenses and reductions in felonies. Meanwhile, enforcement of these offenses is concentrated in precincts with high proportions of African-American and Latino residents, NYCHA residents, and young men, at higher rates than can be explained by the incidence of crime. Read more »

We are Orlando. So let’s do something about it

Even two days later, it’s hard to make sense of the brutal tragedy in Orlando.  There’s something truly incomprehensible – about so many lives lost at once, about raising our kids in a world where mass shootings have become horrifically normal, about the polarized political response, and about our galling failure to act.

First in our hearts are the lives lost and the families torn apart. Last night, outside the Stonewall Inn, thousands of us stood together to read their names.

Tonight at Grand Army Plaza, Public Advocate Tish James with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center and community leaders from Brooklyn’s diverse communities will come together to join for a unity vigil to remember the lives lost in Orlando and stand together in the face of hatred.

Unity Vigil to Honor the Lives Lost in Orlando
Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn NY
7:30 PM, Tonight (June 14)

As we remember and begin to heal, we are learning more about the 49 people – mostly young, LGBTQ, and Latino – killed while dancing and celebrating together.  Read more »

The seniors at Prospect Park Residence win a little justice

For the past two years, our elderly neighbors at Prospect Park Residence have fought a fierce and principled battle against a greed-driven landlord’s effort to evict 130 seniors – including Holocaust survivors, a Tuskegee airman, people with dementia, and many in their 90s and even older – just to make a buck.

Together, we have stood with them every step of the way. What landlord Haysha Deitsch hoped would take just 90 days turned into an epic, two-year battle. Read more »

Some new candidates on the (PBNYC) ballot!

PBNYC Vote Week is underway – and there are some new candidates on the ballot!

For the first time ever, we’ll be offering a brand new voting opportunity. In addition to voting on how to spend $1.5 million on the “capital projects ballot” (with 13 great projects like those from prior years), you’ll also get to vote on how to spend $50,000 on our brand new “program ballot.” 

Every year, during the PBNYC brainstorming phase, we hear many great ideas that don’t meet the criteria for “city capital” funding, which has to be for “bricks-and-mortar” projects.

So this year, we are offering an entire second ballot of projects that qualify for city “programmatic” funding that lets us really take advantage of all the creativity we see in PBNYC.  I’m proud to say we are the only district in NYC piloting this new opportunity. Read more »

PBNYC 2016 Ballot is here: What will you choose?

You’re going to get a lot of chances to vote this year – the Presidential primary in April, the State legislative primary in September, and the General Election in November.

But only one ballot contains 13 fantastic local projects to improve our schools, parks, libraries, streets and transit: the PBNYC 2016 ballot for our district is here, and its time to get ready to vote on how you want to spend $1.5 million. Read more »