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.

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 »

City Council Ramps Up Efforts To Preserve Existing Housing For Low-Income New Yorkers

Committee on Housing and Buildings Holds Hearing on Four Bills to Strengthen NYC's Housing Preservation Tool-Kit

NEW YORK, NY- Today at City Hall, the City Council's Committee on Housing and Buildings heard testimony on a package of  four bills designed to strengthen the city's tool-kit for preserving the existing housing where most low- and moderate-income New Yorkers live.

The preservation-focused hearing comes in the midst of negotiations with the de Blasio Administration on the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) proposals.  Council Members, advocacy organizations, City officials, and New Yorkers from across the city highlighted the need to strengthen the City's preservation efforts, even as discussion about developing new affordable housing through MIH and ZQA continues. Read more »

Statement of NYC Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres on the First NYC “School Diversity Accountability Act” Annual Report

New York City Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres, co-sponsors of the “School Diversity Accountability Act” (Local Law 59 of 2015 and City Council Resolution 453 of 2015), issued the following statement after the release of the first annual report by the NYC Department of Education:

Confronting segregation and advancing diversity in NYC’s public schools is an urgent moral, practical, and policy imperative. It will not be achieved quickly, but that cannot be an excuse for inaction.

Our goal in legislating the ‘School Diversity Accountability Act’ was to create an annual report to measure how we are doing, see what steps we are taking, and begin to measure progress — or lack thereof — each year. Read more »

New Family Shelter at 385 McDonald Avenue

Thank you to the many neighbors who attended last week’s meeting (at PS 230) about the new shelter for families at 385 McDonald Avenue. The Kensington community had a respectful conversation on a highly-charged topic.

At the meeting, representatives from NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and CAMBA (the Brooklyn not-for-profit organization that will be running the shelter) presented detailed plans and addressed many of the concerns raised by neighbors. Read more »

New York Times Op-Ed: "What Would It Take to Integrate Our Schools?"

Orignially published in the New York Times, December 15, 2015

By Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres 

Even though we may believe that “separate but equal” public schools are inherently unequal, we haven’t been prepared to do much about it. In recent years, we’ve rarely even talked about it.

But over the past year, as the nation’s attention has turned to issues of racial justice, we’ve at least resumed the conversation. Powerful episodes of public radio’s “This American Life” (“This Problem We All Live With”) called attention to an attempt at integration in St. Louis, featuring the high school Michael Brown attended, and to a much more successful effort in Hartford.

An eye-opening study by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, woke us up to the finding that New York City schools are among the most segregated in the country — and more segregated than they were a decade ago. This fall, rezoning proposals in Brooklyn and on the Upper West Side raised hard questions about race, class, segregation and gentrification.

Read more »

Protecting Freelancers from Getting Stiffed

New York City is the freelance capital of the world, with over 1.3 million freelancers, so many of them right here in Brooklyn. More and more people are working “by the gig” (as graphic designers, film producers, for-hire drivers, nannies, and much more), rather than for a regular paycheck.

But despite the rapidly growing percentage of workers who are paid this way, our laws have not kept up with our changing economy. As a result, gig economy workers don’t have the protections and benefits of traditional employees.

One consequence: more than 70% of freelancers report having been stiffed out of payments they were owed – by being paid too late, too little, or not at all – to the tune of $6,390 every year, on average. I’ve heard stories from individuals who were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars they were owed.

Everyone deserves to be paid for their work, on time and in full. So on Monday, in partnership with the Freelancer’s Union, I introduced the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act.”  Read more »