Tag Archives: protest

Biden: ‘I want a safe America… Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline’

Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for president, spoke out against violence that has erupted out of peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which Donald Trump has stoked, inflamed, ignited seeing violence as the deflection to rising angst over his failure to contain COVID-19, which is killing 1,000 people a day, or improve the economic hardship most Americans are experiencing because of the public health crisis: “Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” Biden said.“I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops. And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out against violence that has erupted out of peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which Donald Trump has stoked, inflamed, ignited seeing violence as the deflection to rising angst over his failure to contain COVID-19, which is killing 1,000 people a day, or improve the economic hardship most Americans are experiencing because of the public health crisis.

“Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” Biden said.
 
“I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.
 
“And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.
 
“I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on the issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test.
 
“Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline.”

These  are Biden’s remarks, highlighted, delivered in Pittsburgh on Monday, August 31:

In the early days of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt told the country, “The news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better, and the American people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder.”
 
Straight from the shoulder: The job of a President is to tell the truth. To be candid. To face facts. To lead, not to incite. That’s why I am speaking to you today. The incumbent President is incapable of telling us the truth. Incapable of facing facts. Incapable of healing.
 
He doesn’t want to shed light. He wants to generate heat. He’s stoking violence in our cities. That is the tragic fact of the matter about this perilous hour in our nation. And now – we must stand against violence – in every form it takes.
The violence we’ve seen again and again and again of unwarranted police shootings and excessive force.
 
Seven bullets in the back of Jacob Blake. A knee on the neck of George Floyd. The killing of Breonna Taylor – in her own apartment.
 
The violence of extremists and opportunists – right-wing militias, white supremacists, vigilantes – who infiltrate protests carrying weapons of war, hoping to wreak havoc, and to derail any hope and support for progress.
 
The senseless violence of looting and burning and destruction of property.
 
I want to be clear about this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.
 
None of this is protesting – it’s lawlessness – plain and simple.
 
And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, only destruction. It’s wrong in every way. It divides instead of unites.
 
Destroying businesses only hurts hard working families that serve the community. It makes things worse, not better.
 
It is not what Dr. King or John Lewis taught. It must end.
 
The fires are burning – and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting them.
 
But we must not burn. We must build.
 
This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence – because for years he has fomented it.
 
He may believe mouthing the words law and order makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is.
 
Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?
 
We need justice in America. And we need safety in America.
 
We are facing multiple crises – crises that, under Donald Trump, keep multiplying.
 
COVID.
 
Economic devastation.
 
Unwarranted police violence.
 
Emboldened white nationalists.
 
A reckoning on race.
 
Declining faith in a bright American future.
 
The common thread?
 
An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better.
 
An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order.
 
An incumbent president who fails in the basic duty of the job: to advance the truths that all of us are born with a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
 
That’s right: all of us.
 
The moms and dads in Scranton where I grew up – who have worked and scrapped for everything they’ve ever gotten in life.
 
The auto worker in Michigan – who still makes the best car in the world.
 
The single mom in Ohio working three jobs just to stay afloat – who will do anything for her child.
 
The retired veteran in Florida who gave everything he had to this country – and now just wants us to honor the promises we made to him.
 
The Lord and Taylor salesperson who just lost their job – the store closing after 194 years in business.
 
The nurses and doctors in Wisconsin who have seen so much sickness and so much death the past six months they wonder how much more they can take, but still they muster up the courage to take care of their patients in this pandemic and risk their lives.
 
The researcher in Minnesota who woke up this morning determined to find a breakthrough in treating cancer – who will do the same thing tomorrow and the day after and the day after – because she will never give up.
 
White, Black, Latino, Asian-American, Native American. Everybody.
 
I’m in this campaign for you, no matter your color, no matter your Zip Code. No matter your politics.

When I think about the presidency, I don’t think about myself.
 
This isn’t about my brand.
 
This is about you.
 
We can do better.
 
We must do better.
 
And I promise this: We will do better.
 
The road back begins now, in this campaign. You know me. You know my heart, and you know my story, my family’s story.
 
Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?
 
I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.
 
And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.
 
I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on the issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test.
 
Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline.
 
Having failed to protect this nation from a virus that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, Trump posts all cap tweets screaming Law and Order to save his campaign.
 
One of his closest political advisors in the White House doesn’t even bother to speak in code. She just comes out and says it: “The more chaos…and violence…the better it is” for Trump’s reelection.
 
Think about that.
 
This is a sitting President of the United States. He’s supposed to be protecting this country. But instead he’s rooting for chaos and violence.
 
The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now, he’s trying to scare America.
 
Since Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t run on their record that has seen more American deaths to a virus than this nation suffered in every war since Korea combined…
 
Since they can’t run on their economy that has seen more people lose their jobs than at any time since the Great Depression…
 
Since they can’t run on the simple proposition of sending our children safely back to school…
 
And since they have no agenda or vision for a second term Trump and Pence are running on this:
 
“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America”.
 
And what’s their proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.
 
These are not images from some imagined “Joe Biden’s America” in the future.
 
These are images from Donald Trump’s America today.
 
He keeps telling you if only he was president it wouldn’t happen.
 
He keeps telling us if he was president you would feel safe.
 
Well – he is president. And it is happening. And you don’t.
 
And it’s getting worse. And we know why. Because Donald Trump adds fuel to every fire.
 
Because he refuses to even acknowledge there is a racial justice problem in America.
 
Because he won’t stand up to any form of violence.
 
He’s got no problem with the right-wing militias and white supremacists and vigilantes with assault weapons – often better armed than the police, often in the middle of the violence – at these protests.
 
And because tens of millions of Americans simply don’t trust this president to respect their rights, to hear their concerns, or to protect them.
 
It doesn’t have to be this way.
 
When President Obama and I were in the White House, and had to defend federal property,
you didn’t see us whipping up fears around the deployment of secret federal troops.
 
We just did our job. And the federal property was protected.
 
When President Obama and I were in office, we didn’t look at cities as Democratic- or Republican-run. These are American cities.
 
But Trump doesn’t see himself as a president for all of America.
 
Frankly, I believe if I were president today, the country would be safer and we would be seeing less violence. And here’s why.
 
I have said we must address the issue of racial injustice.
I have personally spoken to George Floyd’s family and Jacob Blake’s family. I know their pain, I know the justice they seek. They have told us none of this violence respects or honors George or Jacob.
 
I believe I can bring those fighting for racial justice to the table. I have worked with the police in this country for over forty years. I know most cops are good and decent people. I know the risk they take every day with their lives. And I am confident I can bring the police to the table.
 
I would make sure every mayor and governor had the support they needed from the federal government – but I wouldn’t be looking to use the United States military against our own people.
 
If I were president, my language would be less divisive. I would be looking to lower the temperature in the country – not raise it. And I would be looking to unite the nation.
 
But, look, if Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as President? Let’s answer it.
 
First, some simple facts.
 
When I was Vice President, violent crime fell 15% in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder. And yes we did it with Democrats as mayors of most big cities in this country.
 
The murder rate is up 26% in cities across the nation this year under Donald Trump.
 
Do you feel really safer under Trump?
 
COVID has taken more lives this year than any outbreak in more than 100 years. More than 180,000 lives in just six months. An average of 1,000 people dying every day in the month of August.
 
Do you feel really safer under Trump?
 
Mr. Trump – you want to talk about fear? Do you know what people are afraid of in America?
 
They’re afraid they’re going to get COVID. They’re afraid they’re going to get sick and die. And that in no small part is because of you.
 
We are now on track for more than 200,000 deaths in this country due to COVID.
 
More than 100,000 seniors have lost their life to the virus. More cops have died from COVID this year than have been killed on patrol. Nearly one in six small businesses is closed in this country today.
 
Do you really feel safer under Trump?
 
What about Trump’s plan to destroy the Affordable Care Act – and with it the protections for pre-existing conditions. That impacts more than 100 million Americans.
 
Does that make you feel safer?
 
Or how about Trump’s plan to defund Social Security.
 
The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary just released a report saying if a plan like the one Trump is proposing goes into effect, the Social Security Trust Fund would be, quote, “permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023, with no ability to pay benefits thereafter.” To put it plainly, Social Security would be wiped out.
 
Feel safer now?
 
And the fear that reigns under this president doesn’t stop at our shores.
 
The Kremlin has put bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
 
And instead of telling Vladimir Putin that there will be a heavy price to pay if they dare touch an American soldier – this president doesn’t even bring up the subject in a phone call.
 
Russian forces just attacked American troops in Syria, injuring our service members. The president didn’t say a word. He didn’t lift a finger.
 
Never before has an American president played such a subservient role to a Russian leader.
 
It’s not only dangerous – it’s an embarrassment.
 
Not even America’s troops can feel safer under Trump.
 
Donald Trump’s role as a bystander in his own presidency extends to the economic pain being felt by millions of Americans.
 
He said this weekend, “You better vote for me or you are going to have the greatest depression you’ve ever seen.”
 
Does he not see the tens of millions who had to file for unemployment this year? The folks who won’t be able to make next month’s rent? The folks who lost wages while the cost of food staples rose dramatically?
 
Barack Obama and I stopped a depression in 2009. We took a bad economy and turned it around.
 
Donald Trump took a good economy and drove it into the ditch. Through his failure to get COVID under control, his failure to pull together the leaders in Congress, his failure to deliver real relief for working people — has made our country’s economic situation so much worse than it had to be.
 
When we talk about safety, and security, we should also talk about the basic security of being able to look your kid in the eye and tell them everything is going to be okay. We won’t lose our home. We’ll be able to put food on the table.
 
I’ve laid out an agenda for economic recovery that will restore a sense of security for working families. And we won’t just build things back the way they were before. We’re going to build back better.
 
With good-paying jobs building our nation’s roads, bridges, solar arrays and windmills. With investments in our health care and child care workers so they get the pay and dignity they deserve, while easing the financial burdens for millions of families. With a clean energy strategy that has a place for the energy workers right here in western Pennsylvania. I’m not for banning fracking. Let’s say that again. I’m not for banning fracking – no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.
 
The future. That’s what this is all about.
 
We all hear Donald Trump’s self-centered rants and riffs, but the voice America should hear is Julia Jackson’s – the mother of Jacob Blake.
 
Hers is a voice of courage and character and wisdom.
 
In looking at the damage that had been done in her city she said, “the violence and destruction” didn’t “reflect my son or my family.”
 
These are the words of a mother whose son had just been shot seven times in front of his children. Badly injured. Paralyzed, perhaps permanently.
 
And even as she seeks justice for her son – she is pleading for an end to the violence – and for this nation to heal.
 
She said she was praying for her son. She said she was praying for all police officers. She said she had already been praying for America, even before her son was shot.
 
She asked us all to examine our hearts – citizens, elected officials, the police – all of us.
 
And then she said this, “We need healing.”
 
More than anything, that is what we need to do as a nation:
We need to heal.
 
The current president wants you to live in fear. He advertises himself as a figure of order.
 
He isn’t. He is not part of the solution. He is part of the problem. The biggest part.
 
A problem that I, as President, will give my all to resolve.
 
I will deal with the virus. I will deal with the economic crisis. I will work to bring equity and opportunity to all.
 
We have arrived at the moment in this campaign that we all knew we would get to. The moment when Donald Trump would be so desperate, he would do anything to hold on to power.
 
Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years.
 
Poisoning how we talk to one another. Poisoning how we treat one another. Poisoning the values this nation has always held dear. Poisoning to our democracy.
 
Now – in just a little over 60 days – we have a decision to make:
 
Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our national character?
 
As Americans we believe in Honesty and Decency. Treating everyone with dignity and respect. Giving everyone a fair shot. Leaving no one behind. Giving hate no safe harbor. Demonizing no one. Being part of something bigger than ourselves.
 
Donald Trump doesn’t believe in any of that.
 
America is an idea.
 
It is the most powerful idea in the history of the world – and it beats in the hearts of the people of this country:
 
All men and women are created equal – and they deserve to be treated equally.
 
Trump has sought to remake this nation in his image – selfish, angry, dark, divisive.
 
That is not who we are.
 
At her best, America has always been – and if I have anything to do with it – always will be a generous, confident, optimistic nation.
 
Donald Trump is determined to instill fear in America – that is what his entire campaign for presidency has come down to.
 
Fear.
 
But I believe Americans are stronger than that.
 
I believe we will be guided by the words of Pope John Paul II. Words drawn from Scripture: “Be not afraid”.
 
Fear never builds the future. Hope does. And building the future is what America does.
 
In fact, it’s what we do best.
 
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we haven’t been able to do, when we’ve done it together.
 
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God protect our troops.

Cuomo Signs Executive Order Mandating Policing Reinvented and Modernized in Departments Throughout New York State

Attended by Reverend Al Sharpton; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell; NAACP President Hazel Dukes; Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, New YorkState Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the ‘Say Their Name’ Reform Agenda. The package of police reforms, fast-tracked through the state Legislature following the killing of George Floyd, will help reduce inequality in policing and reimagine the state’s criminal justice system. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an Executive Order — the ‘New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative’ — requiring local police agencies, including the NYPD, to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input. Each police agency’s reform plan must address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including, but not limited to use of force.

During the same event, attended by Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell; NAACP President Hazel Dukes; Reverend Al Sharpton , New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Cuomo also  signed the ‘Say Their Name’ Reform Agenda package following the killing of George Floyd and an ongoing pattern of police brutality against minority communities across the nation. These landmark policing reforms will help reduce inequality in policing and reimagine the state’s criminal justice system. The reforms include:

Allowing for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by repealing 50-a of the civil rights law;

Banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers;

Prohibiting false race-based 911 reports; and

Designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the civilian deaths.

“The murder of George Floyd was just the tipping point of the systemic injustice and discrimination that has been going on in our nation for decades, if not centuries,” Governor Cuomo said.”These are issues that the country has been talking about for a long time, and these nation-leading reforms will make long overdue changes to our policing and criminal justice systems while helping to restore community confidence in law enforcement.

Under Cuomo’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative executive order, police forces throughout the state, in cities, towns and counties- some 500 of them – must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for future state funding and certify that they have:

Engaged stakeholders in a public and open process on policing strategies and tools;

Presented a plan, by chief executive and head of the local police force, to the public for comment;

After consideration of any comments, presented such plan to the local legislative body (council or legislature as appropriate) which has approved such plan (by either local law or resolution); and

If such local government does not certify the plan, the police force may not be eligible to receive future state funding.

“The protests taking place throughout the nation and in communities across New York in response to the murder of George Floyd illustrate the loss of community confidence in our local police agencies — a reality that has been fueled by our country’s history of police-involved deaths of black and brown people,” Governor Cuomo said“Our law enforcement officers are essential to ensuring public safety — they literally put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect us. This emergency regulation will help rebuild that confidence and restore trust between police and the communities they serve by requiring localities to develop a new plan for policing in the community based on fact-finding and meaningful community input.”

Immediately following the death of George Floyd, Governor Cuomo laid out a series of reform policy items – called the “Say Their Name” agenda – including allowing for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by reforming 50-a of the civil rights law; banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers; prohibiting false race-based 911 reports and making them a crime; and designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.

This builds on prior executive actions the Governor has taken including appointing the Attorney General as a special prosecutor in matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.

“The horrific murder of George Floyd, the most recent in a long list of innocent people like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and so many more, has led to a rightful outpouring of grief and anger,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said,  who recalled when her own son, at 18 years old, was taken into custody and left with a broken nose. “Black New Yorkers, like all residents of this state, deserve to know that their rights, and lives, are valued and protected by our justice system. The legislation that will be signed today will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that brutality, racism, and unjustified killings will not be tolerated.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said,”The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham and so many others shake us to the core. This week, my colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority answered the call of New Yorkers by passing historic reforms to our law enforcement system. These reforms have been championed by our members for years, and I want to thank my colleagues for their tireless commitment to seeing them through to the finish line. I would also like to thank the families of the victims and the passionate advocates who never tired in this fight for justice. They have courageously channeled their grief into a positive force for change and inspired us to deliver meaningful reforms here in New York.”

Cuomo stressed that actions need to be taken at the federal level to create national standards that root out systemic racism in criminal justice and law enforcement, but that New York State, as the “progressive capital” of the nation, would serve as a model for other states and ultimately the federal government.

“Criminal justice reform should be done on a national level,” he said. “And the House has been very aggressive on reform, the Congress, and I applaud them for it. But New York State is the progressive capital. We never sit back and say just what the nation should do, we show the nation what it should do. We lead by example and we lead by getting it done. We are a state of action and that’s us at our best…”

“There is no quick fix to this,” Cuomo said. “There is no, ’”Well, stop tear gas. Well, change the uniforms.’ That’s not what this is about, my friends. And it would be a mistake if we went down that path. This is systemic reform of police departments. This is sitting down and taking a look at exactly what they do and have been doing and looking at it through a new lens of reform and reinvention, because this has been 40, 50 years in the making. Providing police with military equipment, increasing the number of police, it goes back to the ’90s in the crime bills. Looking at the population explosion in our prisons, this was a long time in coming, and this is not about a press release that’s going to solve it. The way we really solve this is we say to every police agency in this state, I believe it should happen in the nation, sit down at the table with the local community, address these issues, get to the root of these issues, get a plan, pass that plan by your local government, and if you don’t, you’re not going to get any additional state funds, period. We’re not going to fund police agencies in this state that do not look at what has been happening, come to terms with it and reform themselves. We’re not going to be as a state government subsidizing improper police tactics, we’re not doing it. And this is how we’re going to do it.”

Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins spoke personally: “But every parent, every mother who looks like me understood that scary notion with our kids, with our husbands, with our brothers. I got that call when my son, my youngest son was only 18 years old and he was quote unquote on the wrong side of the town, he was stopped, he was frisked. The next thing I know after we’re out of the police station, we’re in the emergency room because he has a fractured nose. Thank god I was able to bring him home. I ache for Gwen, Valerie. I understood that.”

She noted that her brother, Bobby, a Marine vet, a Vietnam War vet, served as a transit police officer for six years, before he left “because he was convinced that the department, that the system was designed so that every young black man would have a record. He knew. He was a good cop, he worked with good cops, but he couldn’t change that. And you knew the system couldn’t change itself.

“And so here we are. We know this isn’t a cure, as the governor said. We know that this is the beginning, but it’s a move to bring justice to a system that has long been unjust. And, again, I thank you for being a partner for making sure that we take to heart this moment that has taken too long to come to. And I thank all of the people in the streets and the leadership of the families to make this happen. So, thank you, Governor.”

Assembly Speaker Heastie reflected, “There are still many other issues of systemic injustice and systemic racism that people of color have to deal with. It’s education and health disparities and these are all things that we have to continue as Government to be a part of. Government is supposed to be problem solvers. When society can’t fix things that’s what government is supposed to come in and chart that costs so this is just a very it’s an emotional day.”

Many reflected on the long list of victims over the past 40-50 years, and sporadic flare-ups of outrage but nothing concrete to change the system. What was different now?

Cuomo opined, “But I think it wasn’t just about Mr. Floyd’s death. I think it was the cumulative impact and I think all the names on that list did not die in vain. I think it took that repeated articulation to get the country to this point. Reverend Sharpton— on every one of those situations— was out there making this point all over the country. All over the country. And finally, finally, the country heard! But the reason we’re here today, make no mistake, is because Rev. Sharpton and good people across the country, were out there making the point every time over and over and over again.

“So, Eric Garner did not die in vain. Shawn Bell did not die in vain. It took— it took a number of lives, unfortunately. it took a number of injustices, unfortunately. But each one was a part in getting to today and it was Rev. Sharpton standing up and making sure the people of this nation heard every time, every injustice happened. And that— that Reverend— is a special ability, a special contribution, and it happened year after year after year and we all respect your effort. We thank you for what you’ve done. We thank you for your voice, which the nation has heard. This state has heard. And not only did we hear you— we’re going to make a difference and this state is going to make a difference and I believe it’s going to be a difference that will resonate across the nation. Because what we’re doing here, making every police agency come to the table with the community— that should be done in every police agency in this country. Together we’ll make it happen. Reverend Sharpton.”

Sharpton replied, ”let us be very clear. There is no governor in this country that has said what he said this morning. He and I are debating sometimes, but he has, in many ways, done things that even I did not expect. To say that every mayor must come up with a plan along these areas or they will withhold state money, is a model for where we ought to be dealing with 21st century civil rights in this country. Make no mistake: this is a new level that all other 49 governors ought to look at, because to say, “I want to see mayors deal with this” and “I want to see city councils deal with this,” is one thing. But to say, “we’re going to hold funds— means that he means it.”

He noted that 20 years ago, when Sharpton organized a March on Washington, Cuomo, then Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, was the only member of Clinton’s cabinet to attend.

“Andrew Cuomo has raised the bar, and I hope every governor in this country will be asked today whether or not they’re going to do what he just did. Somebody has to raise the bar. Then we can say to the Floyd family and others that you really have seen a new day, and we’ve turned a new way in this country. And I think that he has done that and Andrew Cuomo knows that when I don’t think he did whatever, I will tell him. He has gone beyond even my expectations. So enjoy these few minutes. But I think this is a great day.”

Here are more details of the legislation Cuomo signed:

Repealing 50-a (S.8496/A.10611)

Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law creates a special right of privacy for the personnel records of police officers, correction officers, and firefighters and paramedics employed by the State or political subdivisions. The current law prevents access to both records of the disciplinary proceedings themselves and the recommendations or outcomes of those proceedings, leading to records of complaints or findings of law enforcement misconduct that did not result in criminal charges against an officer almost entirely inaccessible to the public.

Repealing 50-a will allow for the disclosure of law enforcement disciplinary records, increasing transparency and helping the public regain trust that law enforcement officers and agencies may be held accountable for misconduct. 

Banning Chokeholds (S.6670-B/ A.6144)

In 1993, the New York City Police Department completely banned its officers from using chokeholds, but the ban has not prevented police officers from using this method to restrain individuals whom they are trying to arrest and the continued use of chokeholds has resulted in too many deaths. This new law creates criminal penalties when a police officer or peace officer uses a chokehold or similar restraint and causes serious physical injury or death.

Senator Brian Benjamin said, “Criminalizing the use of the chokehold by police or peace officers punishable up to 15 years in prison is an important step that will bringing sorely needed police accountability reform to New York State. It is time that we make it abundantly clear that no one is above the law. This is the first law that I am aware of that establishes an enhanced offense specifically on police officers and that is primarily because those who we hire to protect and serve must be held to a higher standard. I would like to thank the Senate and Assembly for passing the ‘Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act,’ and Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation that will help to save the lives of unarmed black men and women who encounter the police and hopefully begin the process of establishing trust and reducing tensions with law enforcement and communities of color.”  

Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley said,George Floyd and Eric Garner yelled out the same words as they were brutally killed by police officers. We need real change to protect black Americans, and part of that is ensuring there are consequences for misconduct on the part of police officers. This legislation is one of many steps in that direction. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law and hope to continue working with his administration to make our state a fairer and more equal place to call home.”

Prohibiting Race-Based 911 Calls (S.8492/A.1531)

Recent years have shown a number of frivolous and false calls to 911 based on the callers’ personal discomfort with other people and not for any particular threat. This new law makes it a civil rights violation to call 911 to report a non-emergency incident involving a member of a protected class without reason to suspect a crime or an imminent threat.

Senator Kevin Parker said, “Social media is rampant with videos of people weaponizing the 911 emergency system against African-Americans hoping to see them falsely arrested or worse. This legislation is by no means a solution to the systemic injustices and prejudices that fuel these types of calls to the police. However, this law gives victims of this despicable behavior the beginnings of some recourse. I am glad that it was passed, together with other important police reform bills, and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing it into law.”   

Appointing Attorney General as Independent Prosecutor for Police Involved Deaths (S.2574-C/A.1601)

This new law establishes an Office of Special Investigation within the Office of the Attorney General to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases where the death of a person follows an encounter with a law enforcement officer. The law also requires the new Office of Special Investigation to produce a report explaining the reasons for its decision regardless of whether it chooses to pursue charges. This will help improve public confidence in the criminal justice system by removing a potential conflict of interest in these types of investigations. This law builds on the Governor’s Executive Order No. 147 from 2015 which established the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor in instances of police-involved deaths.

Assembly Member Nick Perry said, “Over twenty years since police unloaded 41 shots killing Amadou Diallo, nearly six years after the merciless choking of Eric Garner, it took the videos of the heartrending death of George Floyd to finally help us break through the blue wall of silence and resistance to the public cry for criminal justice reform and changes in the prosecution of cases involving death at the hands of the police, who are supposed to protect us. We know that this new law will not end our quest for an assurance for fairness in the process for prosecuting crimes by bad police officers, but it is a big step in the right direction. Millions of New Yorkers and I are delighted that the Governor has signed this bill into law.”

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Amid national protests over police brutality, Trump calling out military against protesters, Biden declares ‘The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism’

VP Joe Biden declares, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid national protests over police brutality and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Donald Trump calling out the military against peaceful protesters outside the White House, VP Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, declares, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.

“We are a nation in pain,” Biden declared. “but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us. 

“As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.”

Here is a transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech delivered from the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia City Hall in front of an audience that included Mayor Jim Kenney, Congressman Brendan Boyle, and state and local elected officials.:

“I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe.”
 
George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation.
 
They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk.
 
They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus – and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment – with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in black and brown communities.
 
And they speak to a nation where every day millions of people – not at the moment of losing their life – but in the course of living their life – are saying to themselves, “I can’t breathe.”
 
It’s a wake-up call for our nation. For all of us.
 
And I mean all of us. It’s not the first time we’ve heard these words – they’re the same words we heard from Eric Garner when his life was taken six years ago.
 
But it’s time to listen to these words. Understand them. And respond to them – with real action.
 
The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us.  Leadership that can bring us together. Leadership that can recognize the pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for too long.
 
But there is no place for violence.
 
No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses — many of them built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families.
 
Nor is it acceptable for our police — sworn to protect and serve all people — to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.
 
We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest — and opportunistic violent destruction.

And we must be vigilant about the violence that’s being done by the incumbent president to our democracy and to the pursuit of justice.
 
When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle.
 
More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.
 
For that’s what the presidency is: a duty of care — to all of us, not just our voters, not just our donors, but all of us.
 
The President held up a bible at St. John’s church yesterday. 

If he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves.
 
That’s hard work. But it’s the work of America.
 
Donald Trump isn’t interested in doing that work.

Instead he’s preening and sweeping away all the guardrails that have long protected our democracy.
 
Guardrails that have helped make possible this nation’s path to a more perfect union.
 
A union that constantly requires reform and rededication – and yes the protests from voices of those mistreated, ignored, left out and left behind.
 
But it’s a union worth fighting for and that’s why I’m running for President.
 
In addition to the Bible, he might also want to open the U.S. Constitution.
 
If he did, he’d find the First Amendment. It protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
 
Mr. President: That is America.
 
Not horses rising up on their hind legs to push back a peaceful protest. Not using the American military to move against the American people. This nation is a nation of values. Our freedom to speak is the cherished knowledge that lives inside every American.
 
We will not allow any President to quiet our voice. 
 
We won’t let those who see this as an opportunity to sow chaos throw up a smokescreen to distract us from the very real and legitimate grievances at the heart of these protests. 

And we can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing. We can’t.
 
The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.
 
I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be.
 
It’s all at stake. That is truer today than ever. And it’s in this urgency we can find the path forward.
 
The history of this nation teaches us that it’s in some of our darkest moments of despair that we’ve made some of our greatest progress.
 
The 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economy in the history of the world grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 came in the tracks of Bull Connor’s vicious dogs.
 
To paraphrase Reverend Barber — it’s in the mourning we find hope. 

It will take more than talk. We’ve had talk before. We’ve had protests before. 

Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes.
 
That action will not be completed in the first 100 days of my Presidency — or even an entire term.
 
It is the work of a generation.
 
But if this agenda will take time to complete, it should not wait for the first 100 days of my Presidency to get started.
 
A down payment on what is long overdue should come now. Immediately.
 
I call on Congress to act this month on measures that would be a first step in this direction. Starting with real police reform.
 
Congressman Jeffries has a bill to outlaw choke holds. Congress should put it on President Trump’s desk in the next few days.
 
There are other measures: to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard — that also should be made law this month. 
 
No more excuses. No more delays. 
 
If the Senate has time to confirm Trump’s unqualified judicial nominees who will run roughshod over our Constitution, it has time to pass legislation that will give true meaning to our Constitution’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”
 
Looking ahead, in the first 100 days of my presidency, I have committed to creating a national police oversight commission.
 
I’ve long believed we need real community policing.
 
And we need each and every police department in the country to undertake a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices.
 
And the federal government should give them the tools and resources they need to implement reforms.
 
Most cops meet the highest standards of their profession. All the more reason that bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly. We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for these senseless tragedies to keep happening. 
 
And we need to learn from the cities and precincts that are getting it right.
 
We know, though, that to have true justice in America, we need economic justice, too.
 
Here, too, there is much to be done.

As an immediate step, Congress should act to rectify racial inequities in the allocation of COVID-19 recovery funds. 
 
I will be setting forth more of my agenda on economic justice and opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.
 
But it begins with health care. It should be a right not a privilege. The quickest route to universal coverage in this country is to expand Obamacare.
 
We could do it. We should do it.
 
But this president — even now — in the midst of a public health crisis with massive unemployment wants to destroy it.
 
He doesn’t care how many millions of Americans will be hurt— because he is consumed with his blinding ego when it comes to President Obama.
 
The President should withdraw his lawsuit to strike down Obamacare, and the Congress should prepare to act on my proposal to expand Obamacare to millions more.
 
These last few months we have seen America’s true heroes. The health care workers, the nurses, delivery truck drivers, grocery store workers.

We have a new phrase for them: Essential workers.
 
But we need to do more than praise them. We need to pay them.
 
Because if it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now. This country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs. It was built by America’s great middle class — by our essential workers.
 
I know there is enormous fear and uncertainty and anger in the country. I understand.
 
And I know so many Americans are suffering. Suffering the loss of a loved one. Suffering economic hardships. Suffering under the weight of generation after generation after generation of hurt inflicted on people of color — and on black and Native communities in particular.
 
I know what it means to grieve. My losses are not the same as the losses felt by so many. But I know what it is to feel like you cannot go on.
 
I know what it means to have a black hole of grief sucking at your chest.
 
Just a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of my son Beau’s passing from cancer. There are still moments when the pain is so great it feels no different from the day he died. But I also know that the best way to bear loss and pain is to turn all that anger and anguish to purpose.
 
And, Americans know what our purpose is as a nation. It has guided us from the very beginning.
 
It’s been reported. That on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, little Yolanda King came home from school in Atlanta and jumped in her father’s arms.
 
“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “now we will never get our freedom.”
 
Her daddy was reassuring, strong, and brave.
 
“Now don’t you worry, baby,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s going to be all right.”
 
Amid violence and fear, Dr. King persevered.

He was driven by his dream of a nation where “justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
 
Then, in 1968 hate would cut him down in Memphis.
 
A few days before Dr. King was murdered, he gave a final Sunday sermon in Washington.
 
He told us that though the arc of a moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.
 
And we know we can bend it — because we have. We have to believe that still. That is our purpose. It’s been our purpose from the beginning.

To become the nation where all men and women are not only created equal — but treated equally.
 
To become the nation defined — in Dr. King’s words — not only by the absence of tension, but by the presence of justice.
 
Today in America it’s hard to keep faith that justice is at hand. I know that. You know that.
 
The pain is raw. The pain is real.
 
A president of the United States must be part of the solution, not the problem. But our president today is part of the problem.
 
When he tweeted the words “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” – those weren’t the words of a president. They were the words of a racist Miami police chief from the 1960s.
 
When he tweeted that protesters “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs … that’s when people would have been really badly hurt.” Those weren’t the words of a president — those were the kind of words a Bull Connor would have used unleashing his dogs.
 
The American story is about action and reaction. That’s the way history works. We can’t be naïve about that.
 
I wish I could say this hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn’t and it won’t. American history isn’t a fairytale with a guaranteed happy ending.

The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push-and-pull for more than 240 years.
 
A tug of war between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character.
 
At our best, the American ideal wins out.
 
It’s never a rout. It’s always a fight. And the battle is never finally won.
 
But we can’t ignore the truth that we are at our best when we open our hearts, not when we clench our fists. Donald Trump has turned our country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.
 
He thinks division helps him.
 
His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being he leads.
 
I ask every American to look at where we are now, and think anew: Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we pass on to our kids’ and grandkids’ lives? Fear and finger-pointing rather than hope and the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety? Self-absorption and selfishness?
 
Or do we want to be the America we know we can be. The America we know in our hearts we could be and should be.
 
Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either.
 
But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate.
 
I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain.
 
I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.
 
It’s about you.
 
And I’ll work to not only rebuild this nation. But to build it better than it was.
 
To build a better future. That’s what America does.
 
We build the future. It may in fact be the most American thing to do.
 
We hunger for liberty the way Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass did.
 
We thirst for the vote the way Susan B. Anthony and Ella Baker and John Lewis did. We strive to explore the stars, to cure disease, to make this imperfect Union as perfect as we can.
 
We may come up short — but at our best we try.
 
We are facing formidable enemies.
 
They include not only the coronavirus and its terrible impact on our lives and livelihoods, but also the selfishness and fear that have loomed over our national life for the last three years.
 
Defeating those enemies requires us to do our duty — and that duty includes remembering who we should be.

We should be the America of FDR and Eisenhower, of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., of Jonas Salk and Neil Armstrong.
 
We should be the America that cherishes life and liberty and courage.
 
Above all, we should be the America that cherishes each other – each and every one.
 
We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
 
As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.
 
So reach out to one another. Speak out for one another. And please, please take care of each other.
 
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we can’t do. If we do it together.

Cuomo Proposes Reform Agenda to End Police Brutality, Systemic Racism, Tells Protesters ‘Use Moment Constructively’

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a national agenda to end systemic racism in law enforcement, end police brutality. “Use this moment. Let’s talk about investigation of police abuse. No chokeholds, nation-wide standard for undue force. Let’s talk about funding of education and equal funding in education. Let’s talk about affordable housing. Let’s talk about a child poverty agenda. Let’s use the moment constructively.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a positive reform agenda to address systemic racism and police brutality amidst the ongoing protests across the state and nation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The reform agenda includes a national ban on excessive force and chokeholds by law enforcement officers; independent investigations of police brutality conducted by independent, outside agencies – not by local prosecutors; and disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated.

While standing firmly in support of the protests against police brutality, the Governor said that protest for its own sake would only work against the cause, but that there needs to be a clearly defined list of actions that need to be articulated.

“You want to make that moment work,” he declared. “Yes, you express the outrage. But then you say, ‘Here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.’ That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protesters are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse.”

And Cuomo also differentiated between the those who are exercising their Constitutional First Amendment right to protest against those who are taking advantage to loot and vandalize, giving Trump the opportunity to deflect and discount, and shift focus to himself as the “law-and-order” strongman. Indeed, there are reports that White Nationalist group is posing as Antifa on Twitter, calling for violence. Trump is proposing to designate Antifa a terrorist group, and is using them to justify calling out military against protesters – which would be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

“There’s no doubt that what the President’s trying to do here is turn the attention to the looters rather than the point of the protest, which is genuine outrage,” Cuomo said in an interview with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC. “”You look at what happened with Mr. Floyd, you have to be outraged. It’s not just Mr. Floyd in an isolated situation, it’s been years and years of the same situation. You can go back to Rodney King, Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner – it’s a long list.

They want to make this about looting and criminals rather than the killing. That’s what they’re trying to do. In New York, we did have large protests and we do have people who are, I think, exploiting the protest. There’s no doubt that there’s some people who came out and did looting and criminal activity. You have some disrupting organizations that are seizing upon the moment. We want to make sure that order is maintained and we’re putting in place a curfew.”

“Use this moment. You look in history, Nicolle, when did change come? Change came when the people insisted on change. Let’s talk about investigation of police abuse. No chokeholds, nation-wide standard for undue force. Let’s talk about funding of education and equal funding in education. Let’s talk about affordable housing. Let’s talk about a child poverty agenda. Let’s use the moment constructively.”

Cuomo ordered a curfew of 11 pm in New York City, and doubled the number of police, from 4,000 to 8,000. However, that was not enough to stop a spate of acts of looting and vandalism.

The protests come just as New York City was hitting the milestones in the fight against COVID-19, which has taken more lives – and more disproportionately in communities of color – in the city and state than anywhere in the country or world. The  Governor said that if there was any “silver” lining in the timing, the protests are happening when the infection rate has been cut from 20 percent to 2 percent but still raised concerns of reigniting the spread of the pandemic.

Here is a transcript of Governor Cuomo’s remarks:

We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City. Now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could, in fact, exacerbate the COVID-19 spread. We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see there’s mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people. After everything that we have done. We have to talk a minute and ask ourselves what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?

We have protests across the state that continued last night, they continued across the nation. Upstate we worked with the cities very closely. The State Police did a great job. We had, basically, a few scattered arrests, upstate New York. But the local governments did a great job, the people did a great job, law enforcement did a great job. The protestors were responsible. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either, upstate.

I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It’s frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there’s no excuse for it. No right minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It’s not just Mr. Floyd, it goes back – there are 50 cases that are just like Mr. Floyd. We’ve them here in New York City. What’s the difference between Mr. Floyd and Amadou Diallo? Or Abner Louima? Or Eric Garner? What is the difference? What have we learned? Nothing?

So, yes, we should be outraged. And yes, there’s a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police. But it’s something worse. It is racism. It is discrimination. It is fundamental inequality and injustice. My father spoke about it in 1984. The speech called “The Tale of Two Cities.” People still talk about it. The point of the tale of two cities is there’s two Americas. Two sets of rules. Two sets of outcomes. Two sets of expectations. It’s true. It was true then, it’s true now. Look at our prisons and tell me there’s not inherit injustice in society. Look at public housing, tell me there’s not inherent injustice.

Look at what happened with this COVID infection rate nationwide. More African Americans infected, more African Americans dead proportionally than white Americans. Of course, there’s chronic institutionalized discrimination. There is no doubt. There is no doubt. And there’s no doubt that it’s been going on for a long time and people are frustrated, and it has to be corrected and it has to be corrected now. And there’s no doubt, that this nation as great as it is has had the continuing sin of discrimination. From before the nation was formed and it started with slavery. And it has had different faces over the decades, but it’s still the same sin. That is true. That is true. So let’s use this moment as a moment of change? Yes.

When does change come? When the stars align and society focuses and the people focus, and they focus to such an extent that the politicians follow the people. That’s when change comes. “Well, the leaders lead!” Baloney. The people lead. And then the politicians see the people moving, and the politicians run to catch up with the people. How did we pass marriage equality in this State, giving a new civil right to the LGBTQ community? Because the people said, “enough is enough. How can you say only heterosexual people can marry, but the LGBTQ people— they can’t marry? How is that constitutional? How is that legal?” You have your own preference— God bless you. But how in the law, do you discriminate between two classes of people. We passed marriage equality.

After the Sandy Hook massacre, after all those years we tried to pass common sense gun safety. Do you really need an assault weapon to kill a deer? But then the Sandy Hook massacre happened, and the people said, “enough. You’re killing children? Young children in schools with an assault weapon? In the Sandy Hook massacre. Enough.”

And in that moment, we passed common sense gun safety in the State of New York. Record income inequality? People said, “enough” and passed a real minimum wage in this State that went all across the nation. There’s a moment for change, and is there a moment here? Yes. If we’re constructive and if we’re smart, and if we know what were asking for! It’s not enough to come out and say, “I’m angry, I’m frustrated.” OK. And what? “Well, I don’t know, but I’m angry and frustrated.”

And you want what done? You need the answer. “Well, I want common sense gun reform.” OK, what does it look like? Here it is— three points. “Well I want to address income inequality.” Well, what do you want? “Here’s what I want. Minimum wage at $15. Free college tuition.” What do you want?

You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage! But then you say, “here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.” That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse. When you have the local District Attorney doing the investigations— I don’t care how good they are— there is the suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that DA works with that police department every day and now that prosecutor is going to do the investigation of that police department that they work with every day? Conflict of interests can be real or perceived. How can people believe that the local prosecutor who works with that police department is going to be fair in the investigation? It shouldn’t be state by state. Minnesota Governor Walz put the attorney general in charge. Good. In this state, I put attorney general in charge of investigations where police kill an unarmed person. Good. But it shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the rule. There is no self-policing. There’s an allegation, independent investigation. Give people comfort that the investigation is real.

If a police officer is being investigated, how is there disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer is being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this was a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? By the way, the disciplinary records can also be used to exonerate. If they have disciplinary records that say he never, she never did anything like this before, fine. That’s relevant too.

We still have two education systems in this country. Everybody knows it. Your education is decided by your zip code. Poorer schools in poorer communities have a different level of funding than richer schools in this state. $36,000 per year we spend in a rich district. $13,000 in a poor district. How do you justify that? If anything, the children in a poorer community need more services in a school, not less. How do you justify that? You can’t. Do something about it. You still have children living in poverty in this nation? Well, when we had to, we found a trillion dollars to handle the COVID virus, but you can’t find funding to help children who live in poverty? No, you can find it, United States. You just don’t want to. It’s political will. When you need to find the money, you can find it. Let’s be honest, the federal government has a printing press in their basement. When they have the political will, they find the money.

The federal government went out of the housing business and never re-entered it. We have a national affordable housing crisis. Of course you do. You don’t fund affordable housing. I’m the former HUD secretary. I know better than anyone what the federal government used to do in terms of affordable housing with Section 8 and building new public housing. And we just stopped, and we left it to the market. Now you have an affordable housing plan. That’s what we should be addressing in this moment. And we should be saying to our federal officials, “There’s an election this year, a few months away. Here’s my agenda. Where do you stand?” Say to the congress, the House and Senate, “Where’s your bill on this?”

I heard some congressional people talking saying well maybe they’ll do a resolution. Yeah, resolutions are nice. Resolutions say in theory I support this. Pass a law, that’s what we want. A law that actually changes the reality, where something actually happens. That’s government’s job is to actually make change. Make change. You’re in a position to make change. Make change. Use this moment to galvanize public support. Use that outrage to actually make the change. And have the intelligence to say what changes you actually want. Otherwise, it’s just screaming into the wind if you don’t know exactly what changes we need to make.

And we have to be smart in this moment. The violence in these protests obscures the righteousness of the message. The people who are exploiting the situation, the looting, that’s not protesting. That’s not righteous indignation. That’s criminality and it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don’t want to make the changes in the first place because then they get to dismiss the entire effort. I will tell you what they’re going to say. They’re going to say the first thing the President said when this happened. They’re going to say “These are looters.” Remember when the President put out that incendiary tweet? “We start shooting when they start looting or they start looting, we start shooting?” That’s an old ’60s call. The violence, the looting, the criminality plays right into those people who don’t want progressive change. And you mark my words, they’re going to say today, “Oh you see, they’re criminals. They’re looters. Did you see what they did breaking the store windows and going in and stealing?” And they’re going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they’re all criminals, they’re all looters. That’s what they’re going to do. Why? They don’t want to talk about Mr. Floyd’s death. They don’t want people seeing that video. They want people seeing the video of the looting. And when people see the video of the looting they say “Oh yeah, that’s scary. They’re criminals.” No, look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd. That’s the video we want people watching.

Now, I don’t even believe it’s the protesters. I believe there are people who are using this moment and using the protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy, who want to disrupt. By the way, there are people who want to steal. And here’s a moment that you can use this moment to steal. You can use this moment to spread chaos. I hear the same thing from all the local officials. They have people in their communities who are there to quote unquote protest. They’re not from their community. They don’t know where they’re from, extremist groups, some people are going to blame the left, some people will blame the right. It will become politicized. But there is no doubt there are outside groups that come in to disrupt. There is no doubt that there are people who just use this moment to steal. What, it’s a coincidence they broke into a Rolex watch company? That was a coincidence? High end stores, Chanel. That was a coincidence? That was random? That was not random. So, can you have a legitimate protest movement hijacked? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And there are people and forces who will exploit that moment and I believe that’s happening.

But we still have to be smart. And at the same time, we have a fundamental issue which is we just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings. And now mass gatherings with thousands of people in close proximity one week before we’re going to reopen New York City? What sense does this make? Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread. We don’t even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gatherings. We don’t even know. We won’t know possibly for weeks. It’s the nature of the virus. How many super-spreaders were in that crowd? “Well, they were mostly young people.” How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello or shook hands with their father or hugged their father or their grandfather or their brother or their mother or their sister and spread a virus?

New York City opens next week. Took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart? New York tough. We went from the worst situation to reopening. From the worst situation to 54 deaths in 50 days. We went from the worst situation to reopening in 93 days. We did that because we were New York tough. New York tough was smart. We were smart. We were smart for 93 days. We were united, we were respectful of each other. We were disciplined. Wearing the mask is just discipline, it’s just discipline. Remember to put it on, remember to pick it up, remembering to put it on when see someone, it’s just discipline.

It was also about love. We did it because we love one another. That’s what a community is. We love one another. And yes, you can be loving even in New York. Even with the New York toughness, even with a New York accent, even with a New York swagger. We’re loving. That’s what we’ve done for 93 days in a way we’ve never done it before. Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime has this city and this state come together in the way we have. I don’t think it ever will again, in my lifetime. Now you can say maybe it takes a global pandemic for it to happen. I don’t know if that’s true and I don’t know that the power of what it was like when it came together might not be so beautiful that people want to do it again.

Remember when we all acted together during coronavirus and we rallied and we knocked coronavirus on its rear end. Remember when we all wore masks and we had to have hand sanitizer? Remember what we did? Wow. When we come together, we can do anything and it’s true. It’s true for the state, it’s true for a nation. When you come together and you have one agenda you can do anything. You want to change society, you want to end the tale of two cities, you want to make it one America? You can do that, just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end.

People united can do anything. We showed that, we just showed that the past 93 days. We can end the injustice and the discrimination and the intolerance and the police abuse. We have to be smart. We have to be smart right now. Right now in this state. We have to be smart tonight in this city because this is not advancing a reform agenda. This is not persuading government officials to change. This is not helping end coronavirus. We have to be smart.

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo, Schumer Stand Up for Israel, Decry Anti-Semitism, as Marchers Shout Down Protesters

Dueling flags at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

In stark contrast to the 40,000 marching with joyful exuberance and  pride in the Celebrate Israel Parade on Sunday, June 2, there was a smattering of the oddest collection of protesters, who stood on one small stretch Fifth Avenue in front of the fountain between 58-59 streets.

Protesters at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There were religious Jews who claim that a state of Israel should not exist until the Messiah has come; a few Palestinians accusing Israel of terrorism, clearly ignoring the thousands of bombs lobbed from Gaza; and a couple of what are presumed American Jews who charge that the West Bank settlements are immoral and an impediment to peace.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Things got testy at points between the marchers and the handful of pro-Palestinians, with loud shouting matches and dueling flags, the protesters wielding cellphones, hoping to provoke some viral video, across a 10-foot “no man’s land” between metal barriers guarded by police.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

When US Senator Charles Schumer came by, he at first passed stoically as a few hecklers taunted him (a Trump supporter yelled at him to “Go Home” – the Senator from New York is from Brooklyn) but finally turned his bullhorn to respond to a woman who screamed “Why are you supporting Israel?” with a comment that boiled down to “Why shouldn’t Jews have a homeland?” At which point his aides refocused him and he marched on.

Senator Charles Schumer addresses protesters at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The encounters seemed to get more heated as the afternoon wore on, but as the police successfully moved marchers along using tact and restraint to defuse the situation, even stopping the protesters from using an elongated pole on their flag like a lance, and the marchers went into a celebratory song and dance.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But as I stood between the two screaming entities, reflecting on the thousands of marchers parading jubilantly, protected by a police force against the smattering of opponents, I thought how different it would be living in a society that oppressed Jews (or any minority), where that minority had to live in fear, practice in secret, where the police, the courts and the government were agents of suppression and repression, and instead of thanking the police officer on 57th Street as they passed, as I saw just about every group do, they had to fear the police, fear the state. The images of police beating protesters at Pettus Bridge in 1965 Selma; Kristallnacht in 1938 Germany came to mind.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

How different things could be.

Governor Andrew Cuomo marches with Israel Counsel General Dani Dayan at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“And I want the people of this state to be clear: anti-Semitism is not just wrong and immoral and unethical and anti-American; it is also illegal,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told a press gaggle as he began the march. “And we will enforce the law to the fullest extent and you have my word on that. 

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“As a sign of solidarity, at this time of crisis for the Jewish people, I’m going to be doing another trip to Israel as a trip in solidarity right after the legislative session and I invite my Jewish colleagues to join us as a sign of solidarity. New York stands with Israel. We are all Jewish today. We all appreciate the Jewish community. They are part of what makes New York, New York and one of the best parts.”

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked what is being done to combat the wave of anti-Semitism, Cuomo said, “We have increased the hate crime penalties all across the state. We are working on more understanding, more communication, but we’re also going to enforce the law because it has reached a critical point. Eighty-three percent increase in the state of New York. Twenty-two percent increase in neo-Nazi groups. And by the way, I invite all politicians to condemn the neo-Nazi groups for what they are. They are domestic terrorists. That’s what they are. And this is not part of the democracy. They spread hate, they spread violence, they attack and every politician—Democrat, Republican—should condemn these neo-Nazi groups and call them for what they are.”

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo had as his special guest Devorah Halberstam, who runs the Jewish Children’s Museum. Halberstam started the museum in honor of her son Ari Halberstam who was killed in an anti-Semitic attack. This week, an anti-Semitic note was left there, “Hitler is Coming.” 

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are here to celebrate Israel,” Cuomo said. And it’s more appropriate than usual this year because the blunt truth is there has been an increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in this country and in this state. There’s been about a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States of America. People have heard about the Pittsburgh horrendous temple attack, in California. But a 57 percent increase. There’s been an 83 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the State of New York, 83 percent increase all over the state – upstate, Long Island, Brooklyn, I just mentioned Devorah Halberstam’s most recent attack.”

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Pride and jubilation at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Just a few days later, on June 6, after another incident of anti-Semitism in which the words “Kill All Jews,” “Israel” and “Mario Cuomo” were written on a mailbox in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Cuomo said, “Hate speech and threatening language has no place in our state, and the mailbox was immediately replaced with a new one after the graffiti was reported.

“Enough is enough. We are reaching our breaking point and these despicable acts of violence must stop. We will not back down in this fight against intolerance and bigotry, and we will continue to stand up to those individuals who spew hateful language and attempt to spread fear across our state.

“As New Yorkers and as a nation, we must denounce anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms. I am directing the New York State Police Hate Crimes unit to assist the NYPD in the investigation into this incident and to provide all resources necessary to hold accountable those responsible.

“In the face of these ongoing incidents that are ripping at the fabric of our State, we will do everything in our power to ensure the continued safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers.”

See also:

Thousands Join Celebrate Israel Parade in NYC to Show Solidarity, Pride; Cuomo Denounces Anti-Semitism

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Thousands of New Yorkers Turn Out to Protect Mueller Investigation, Joining 1000 Protests Nationwide

Thousands gathered in Times Square to demand that the Mueller Investigation be protected from interference, now that Donald Trump has installed a sycophant, Matthew Whitaker, as Acting Attorney General © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Thousands gathered at Times Square in Manhattan precisely at 5 pm on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, a day after Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and only two days after the Blue Wave swept over the House and into state houses across the country, and appointing Matthew Whitaker the Acting Attorney General, a sycophant who has been outspoken against the Muller “lynch mob” and the liberal “Russian hoax.”

Within minutes, the numbers gathered at Duffy Square in Times Square in Manhattan grew to the thousands; soon people were packed together, waving hand-drawn signs and chanting “Trump is not Above the Law,” and “Protect Mueller.” After about an hour, they marched down Broadway about two miles to Union Square through streets and crossroads that clogged with rush hour traffic, past stores and offices still busy with people – a contrast to typical protests which go through vacant caverns on a weekend morning. They were greeted with supporters all along the route.

Thousands protest in New York City to demand the Mueller Investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election be protected © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York City was one of about 1000 such rallies across the nation, a response to Donald Trump’s latest in-your-face lawless outrage: firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions in order to replace him with a sycophant, Matthew Whitaker, whose only “qualification” to be the Acting Attorney General is that he, like now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, expressed willingness to shield Trump, his family and associates from investigation.

The NYC Planning Team later reported that best estimates put the numbers at 6,000, part of a nationwide turnout of over 100,000 people who came out with less than 24 hours notice.

Whitaker had been auditioning for the job in appearances on TV – the recruitment ground for any number of Trump appointees, including his Director of Communications, the ex-Fox News executive Bill Shine – expressing disdain for Mueller’s team as a “lynch mob”, and declaring in interviews in 2017 that the Russia investigation was a liberal hoax, and while there may have been interference by Russia into the election, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. No one bothered to ask how Whitaker, who said he wanted to come to Trump’s attention in order to get a job with the Administration in Washington, would have any direct knowledge of the “evidence” to support his claims.

Marching down Broadway to Union Square to demand the Mueller Investigation be protected © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Whitaker was critical of the investigation in an August 2017 CNN op-ed, saying that Mueller investigating Trump’s finances would be crossing a red line, even though the question of whether the Trump empire is built on money laundering for Russian oligarchs loyal to Vladimir Putin is key to whether there was in fact a conspiracy, or collusion, between Russia and the Trump campaign, and whether Trump’s foreign policy decisions are impacted by whether other governments have sway over him (a partial list: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, India, Turkey, Panama. Yet Whitaker is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country.

Whitaker also defended Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russian officials promising opposition research against Hillary Clinton, stating, “You would always take that meeting,” demonstrating not only his bias (and conflict of interest) but his ignorance of law (it’s illegal to take anything of value from a foreign power; the “dirt” on Hillary Clinton was illegally obtained, which would render the Trump campaign a co-conspirator). But defending illegality is not new: he served on a board of a company that, like Trump University, existed to bilk its customers, and which used Whitaker’s position as a federal prosecutor to bully those who would have sued.  And yet, he is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country. (But dishonesty, along with blind loyalty to Dear Leader, seem to be the prerequisites for a Trump appointment.)

“Hands Off Mueller”. New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Whitaker, as a 2014 candidate for US Senate from Iowa, had promised he would vote for federal judicial nominees who have “a Biblical view of justice.” He also expressed disdain for the notion of the Judiciary as a co-equal branch of government, and blasted the original decision, Marbury v Madison from 1803 which established the Supreme Court as the arbiter of constitutionality. (I’ll bet he thinks differently now that Trump has put two Federalist Society judges on the court for a long-term conservative majority.)

Trump had to jump over the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of the Mueller investigation, in order to pluck Whitaker, who was a chief-of-staff to Sessions for a matter of months. Despite basically carrying out Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights agenda, Sessions was pilloried by Trump for having recused himself from the Russia probe, since Sessions was part of the Trump campaign and lied to Congress during his confirmation hearing about having had contact with Russians. The likelihood is that Trump deliberately planted Whitaker in the post precisely for this maneuver.

On the other hand, many legal scholars have said Whitaker is not legally allowed to be the Acting chief-law-enforcement officer for the nation since he has never gone through a confirmation process. Again, Trump is likely thinking he can get anyone through the Republican-controlled Senate.

“Hands Off Mueller”. New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Some 19 different organizations, including Moveon.org, Need to Impeach and Democracy for America,, sent out the “Emergency. Break the Glass” notice, triggered when Trump moved to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, to rally people in New York City and around the country.

Thousands protest in New York City to demand the Mueller Investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election be protected © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 12) was among those who addressed the protesters in Union Square. Also, among the organizers, a Brooklyn College student, a mother from Connecticut with an autistic child; and Therese Okoumou, who scaled the Statue of Liberty last July 4 to protest Trump’s family separation policy.

 

Here are more photo highlights from the New York City rally and march to protect Mueller:

“Trump is NOT Above the Law.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Not My Dictator.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Imagine Justice.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Recuse.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Organizers of the New York City protest to protect Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In Mueller We Trust.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I Can’t Believe I’m Pissed Sessions Got Fired.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

“Defeat This.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“S.O.S.” New York City protests to protect the Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney addresses protesters in Union Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Organizers of the New York City protest to protect Mueller Investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more at New York Times:

Trump Says ‘I Don’t Know Matt Whitaker,’ the Acting Attorney General He Chose

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power

Acting Attorney General Sat on Board of Company Accused of Bilking Customers

Trump Installs a Critic of the Mueller Investigation to Oversee It

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

New Yorkers Protest for Immigrant Rights: ‘Take back our country. Fight back in the courts, on the streets and damn it, at the ballot box’

Jew with Déjà Vu. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Some 22,000 New Yorkers joined a protest march and rally against the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating children from parents and incarcerating families seeking asylum. The march that started at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, continued across the Brooklyn Bridge, and finished with a rally in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

Dystopian Lady UnLiberty. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are highlights:

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union at Brooklyn rally against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union: “It’s bad enough those who control government would turn their backs on those fleeing violence, turn out people living here for decades, but that the country I love so much could commit such atrocities against children, all in the service of a warped agenda. We won a court order to force the government to reunite families in 30 days. It was an important victory but we know this regime won’t comply unless we force them to…. Take back our country. Fight back in courts, on the streets and damn it, at the ballot box.”

 

Crime Against Humanity. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Carola Bracco, Executive Director, Neighbors Link: “Today is not just about immigrant rights, it is about human rights. This is not who we are as a country. This is not a country I recognize. I can’t imagine anything more devastating than having a child forcibly taken, then having to search. From this chaos, strong leaders are emerging, committed to changing course. We are here to fight for liberty, to live with dignity. Together we will change the trajectory of this country.” 

Jennifer Jones Austin, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jennifer Jones Austin, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies: “Freedom is about saying no to a lie, vetoeing an untruth. Say no to the lies of this administration; veto the untruth of saying separating children is for our own good.

Estela Vasquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Estela Vasquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU: “Mobilize, march, protest until we stop this stupid policy of zero tolerance. Scorch Agent Orange in the white House. We are not fooled by a phony executive order. Separating children, incarcerating children is no different from what the Nazis in Germany did in the 1930s, what we did to Japanese in World War II. Zero tolerance for poverty, for police brutality, for inhumanity.”

Hector Figuerola, SEIU at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hector Figuerola, SEIU: These migrants are running away from the conditions the US created in the first place. 66% of our union are foreign born. “The labor movement has to stand against these attacks on immigrant families. They are not ‘them’. They are us. Fight for children not to be jailed, but free. Stand for families everywhere. This doesn’t end today. For families who suffer loss of a child to police brutality or street violence. Fight for all families. Start with immigrants being dehumanized by this administration. Imagine what it will be if we were to connect the struggle of all the resistence against Trump – labor, women’s movement, those seeking freedom for everyone. Our fight is the fight of people. Let’s fight and let’s win.

Padma Lakshmi, Author and Television Host at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Padma Lakshmi, Author and Television Host: I am an immigrant, a daughter of an immigrant single mother. This is an issue of common decency and humanity, defining who we want to be as a nation. This country was built on labor and sweat of immigrants. That’s what makes America great. Trump is sowing generations of hatred.”

Omolara Uwemedimo, a pediatrician originally from Nigeria, warns of long-term health and mental damage due to the toxic stress of family separation at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Omolara Uwemedimo, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, a daughter of Nigerian immigrants and a mother of two, described the physical and mental toll that may last a lifetime on children being subjected to the trauma of being forcibly separated and incarcerated. There is also the toxic stress on those living in fear of a government taking undocumented parents away from a family. “Family detention is not a solution, it is child abuse and I am a mandated reporter. I am reporting the Trump Administration for abuse of black and brown children.”

Flor Reyes, DACA Recipient, with her brother, Elvis at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Flor Reyes, DACA Recipient, with her brother, Elvis, described the constant terror of a family of “mixed status,” where parents could be deported while children are DACA recipients or American citizens must fend for themselves.

FPerla Lopez, Youth member, Make the Road New York, at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Perla Lopez, Youth member, Make the Road New York, recalled her flight with her mother, fleeing with five children and her detention. “It was almost 10 years ago but is still traumatic.”

Comedian and actor Amy Schumer at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Comedian and actor Amy Schumer: “We were so excited election night when we thought Hillary would be president. Then Hell opened up.”

End Zero Tolerance. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rama Issa, Executive Director, Arab American Association of NY, was one of 633 women arrested in Washington DC demanding the government abolish ICE.

Shannon Stagman, Leader, Empire State Indivisible, at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Shannon Stagman, Leader, Empire State Indivisible: “Pick up the phone and call your representatives every day. Donating is good, but also knock on doors. Voting is good, but also help others vote.”

Murad Awawdeh, VP of Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition, at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Murad Awawdeh, VP of Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition, provided a list of action items: Fight. Stay informed (text NYIC 864237 for alerts); Call legislators. Support organizations (donate, volunteer). And “vote for those who share our values.”

Immigrant. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn to #Protect Families against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Other speakers included:

Rev. Chloe Breyer, Interfaith Center of NY

Alison Hirsh, Vice President and Political Director, SEIU 32BJ

Ravi Ragbir, Leader, New Sanctuary Coalition

Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network

Kerry Washington​, Actor, Producer and Activist

Imam Suhaib Webb, Resident Scholar, Islamic Center NYU

Among the electeds participating in the march: U.S. House Representatives Yvette Clarke, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velázquez, Jerrold Nadler, and Adriano Espaillat, as well as numerous state and local representatives.

See also:

New Yorkers Protest Against Trump Administration ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy, Demand ‘Families Belong Together’

Trump Sees Abuse of Immigrant Children as Winning Political Strategy. What’s Next?

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

New Yorkers Protest Against Trump Administration ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy, Demand ‘Families Belong Together’

A pissed off Lady Liberty joins the Protect Families march across the Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers gathered at Foley Square in front of the federal courthouse and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the Trump Administration’s intolerable Zero Tolerance immigration policy that has resulted in thousands of children being forcibly separated from parents making a claim for asylum from violence in Central America.

“We Care.” New Yorkers gather at Foley Square to protest against separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Protect Families March and Rally was organized by the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State including immigrant rights advocates, advocacy groups, unions, and allies demanding an end to the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane policies against immigrant families.

Crowd Gathers at Foley Square – it took 4 hours before all the marchers crossed Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York City Police Department estimated the crowd at 22,000, but there may have been many more than that. The “family-friendly” march was exactly that with scores of families with their small children taking a stand on behalf of other families.

It was one of 700 protests across America on June 30, a National Day of Action.

Family values. New Yorkers gather at Foley Square to protest against separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Day of Action was the climax to Trump’s incrementally destructive immigration policy, starting with summarily ending DACA protections, then ending legal status for thousands of refugees who have been given shelter in the US for decades and built homes here, stepped up deportation raids that take parents away from children, many of whom are American citizens. Demanding $25 billion to build a wall that no one believes will do anything, and holding the federal budget hostage to that, is the least of it. Trump is also using first the DACA recipients and now the immigrant children as bargaining chips to restrict legal immigration, as well.

Crowd Gathers at Foley Square – it took 4 hours before all the marchers crossed Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The policy of separating children was hatched just weeks after Trump took office, and was announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a weapon to deter families from fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. (See: Trump Sees Abuse of Immigrant Children as Winning Political Strategy. What’s Next?)

I Really Care. New Yorkers gather to protest against separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are highlights from the Protect Families march that began at Foley Square, continued over the Brooklyn Bridge and finished with a rally at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

New Yorkers bring their children to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Resist. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Resist. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

America First. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Never Again. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

ICE is Cold. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Is This Really America? Protesters against Trump’s immigration policy enter a part of the Brooklyn Bridge that makes you feel you are in a cage like the migrant families. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This is Wrong. Child imagine being in a cage © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We the People. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A pissed off Lady Liberty joins the Protect Families march across the Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Families Belong Together. Families march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I Really Fucking Care, Don’t U. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Huddled Masses. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

No. No. No. New Yorkers say “No” to Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more from the Protect Families rally at Cadman Plaza.

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

March for Our Lives in DC Signals New Focus for Gun Reform Activists: ‘Vote Them Out’

Gun activists at the March for Our Lives in Washington DC March 24, 2018 signaled a new focus: they are done entreating politicians to pass sensible gun control laws. They intend to Vote Them Out. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump and the NRA-toadies in the Congress had all skipped town ahead of the onslaught of an estimated 500,000 who joined the March for Our Lives in Washington DC calling for sane gun control. After Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas, and the five school shootings that took place just since Parkland, the advocates for commonsense gun regulation are done trying to appeal and cajole lawmakers. The overriding theme of the event, called out in every interlude between the teen and t’ween speakers who so eloquently made the argument for banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips and universal background checks was “VOTE THEM OUT.”

The call would come from down a mile-long stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue, and crescendo, until the buildings would shake.

Signs at the March for Our Lives, DC, signal a new activism: “It may be the 2nd Amendment, but in a second THEY WERE GONE.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gun control advocates are done expecting tragedy to prompt action to protect public health and safety. They are done asking. They are demanding change – whether it be the policy or the politician.

“Either represent the people or get out … Stand for us or beware: The voters are coming,” was the manifesto from Parkland student Cameron Kasky to lawmakers. “To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down, stay silent and wait your turn: Welcome to the revolution.”

“Your children are the ones fighting for their rights.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The NRA has succeeded, despite easily 90% of Americans who want sensible gun regulations – keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, the severely mentally ill, felons and terrorists, and want to keep weapons designed for war off city streets where 80 percent of Americans live – because they 1) buy politicians, but 2) because they manage to shepherd single-issue voters, fear-mongering the call for “sensible” gun regulation into “confiscate your guns” – and there are some 350 million of them in the hands of just 22% of the population (3% of gun owners own 50% of guns).


Why protect unborn children only to have them die in school © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, the single-issue voters will be gun regulation. That will be the litmus test for support or opposition to a candidate. And that’s okay, because it seems that those who embrace sensible gun laws tend also to support climate action, women’s rights, justice, health care and education. They tend to support diplomacy over war. They see gun control as a public health issue – an epidemic of lethal violence that must be addressed – and so also favor the other issues that support health and quality of life, or in the words of the Founding Fathers quoted on the stage: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

And there will be 3.9 million high school seniors who will be eligible to vote, if not in the 2018 midterms, buy the 2020 presidential.

An army of volunteers were out with forms to register new voters here and in the hundreds and hundreds of “sibling” rallies held across the country – more than 800 in all including those that took place globally. (Several nations have issued advisories against traveling to the United States because of gun violence.)

Gun violence has affected 40 percent of all Americans © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This was quite literally a March for Our Lives. More children have been killed by gun violence in the five years since Sandy Hook than soldiers have died in combat since 9/11, reported Newsweek. According to Everytown, on average, there are 13,000 gun-related homicides a year (another 20,000 suicides); for every one person killed by a gun, two more are injured; seven children and teens are killed with guns every day. In 2015, Politifact confirmed a statement by Nicholas Kristof that “”More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 [1,516,863] than on battlefields of all the wars in American history [1,396,733].”

Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There have been 5 school shootings just since Parkland on February 14 – including the murder just two days before the March for Our Lives  of 16-year old Jaelynn Willey at Great Mills High School in Maryland, at the hand of a 17-year old former boyfriend, wielding his parents’ semi-automatic handgun.

Marching for Jaelynn. There have been 5 school shootings just since Parkland on February 14 – including the murder just two days before the March for Our Lives of 16-year old Jaelynn Willey at Great Mills High School in Maryland, at the hand of a 17-year old former boyfriend, wielding his parents’ semi-automatic handgun. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It wasn’t just Parkland or Sandy Hook and school shootings represented. The speakers were representative of the spectrum of gun violence that is epidemic in America and no where else in the world: gang violence that steals so many lives in urban center cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, that snuffs out the souls in church, concerts, movies, shopping malls; the victims of domestic violence and robbery. And assassination, as the remarks of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, recalled.

Crowd hears surprise guest Martin Luther King’s 9-year old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King declare: “I have a dream that enough is enough. And that this should be a gun-free world – period.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” said Yolanda Renee King. “I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said. “And that this should be a gun-free world – period.”

Then there was 11-year old Naomi Wadler from Alexandria, Virginia, who led the walk-out from her school for 18 minutes – 17 to honor those killed in Parkland and 1 more for the girl who was murdered from her school. “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper. Whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” she said. “For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers. I’m here to say ‘Never Again’ for those girls, too.”

Am I next? On average, gun violence kills 96 people a day. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On average, gun violence kills 96 people each day, who don’t warrant media notice. American women are 16 times more likely to be shot to death than women in other developed countries; When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, the woman is 5 times as likely to be murdered. But in states where a background check is required for every handgun sale, 47% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners, according to EverytownResearch.org.

How many more? (in front of Newsmuseum’s First Amendment banner © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The speakers, an extraordinary array of the most extraordinary young people, described  their trauma, their loss of siblings, parents, best friends, the constant anxiety they must now live with (187,000 school children today have been witness to gun attacks in their schools, according to a Washington Post study; an entire generation since the 1999 Columbine massacre lives with Live Fire drills just as the 1960s kids drilled for nuclear bomb attacks; 40% of Americans know someone who has been a victim of gun violence). They made their case with such clarity, poise, reason and most of all, authenticity, you had to contrast that with the absurdity and stupidity that is heard from many of the current electeds, like Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert.

Emma Gonzalez’ piercing 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

When Emma Gonzalez, with her poignant, piercing 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence that mimicked the time it took for the Parkland School Shooter to kill 17, injure 17 more with his AR-15 assault rifle and simply disappear amid the fleeing students, you had the feeling of seeing a future leader, much as those who heard Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley commencement speech. And so many more on that stage. And then there was Malala, in her taped message, who defied the terror attack on her by Taliban determined to prevent girls from attending school.

Priest makes a statement, ‘Never Again’. Alex Wind of Parkland asks, if teachers are armed, where will it end? Priests, pastors, rabbis? Ticket takers at the movies? Shopkeepers at the mall? “That’s what the NRA wants.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But more: you realized in a flash what was lost – to society, to civilization – the potential of what these young people could have been, their lives snuffed out by the dreck of our species. Did we lose a Steve Hawking, a Malala, an Obama, a Steve Jobs, a Bill Gates? And what of the hundreds of thousands who must live with life-altering injuries – what of the cost to society of their lost ability to fulfill their potential, of the cost of health care that might otherwise have been spent on education, professional training, investment in innovation? The high cost of trauma counselors after an event, of security officers, technology and construction to harden schools against gun violence (diverting scarce funds from computers and actual teaching), pales in comparison.

Teachers, unsung heroes on the frontline of wanton mass shootings, demand “Books over bullets.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

These Parkland survivor-leaders weren’t trying to appeal to politicians with reason or emotion, authenticity or compassion, as the Sandy Hook parents had futilely done. They are done with that.

The pacing of the production – mixing personal stories with PSA’s and data – even the NRA’s “greatest hits” – and top-notch entertainment that included Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt ; Miley Cyrus; Ariana Grande; Jennifer Hudson; Andra Day with Cardinal Shehan School Choir;  Common with Andra Day; Demi Lovato; Vic Mensa and an astonishing performance by the Stoneman Douglas drama club with a student choir of the song they wrote, “Shine”  (www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrZiB2jV7dw), was as fast and explosive as an AR-15 firing. The audience filled in the interlude with chants of “Vote Them Out” – except after Emma Gonzalez spoke, when the chant was “Vote Her In.”

They want to know why a minority of people get to threaten the vast majority of people.

March for Our Lives: Enough is Enough. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Enough is Enough, the speakers declared. Never Again, was the reply back, perhaps more hopefully, given that there are still more than 200 days before the midterm elections, and 250 days before a new Congress is seated. How many more will die until then? If the law of averages continues, 96 a day, or upwards of 24,000 lives will be snuffed out in this gun violence epidemic, with thousands of more suffering life-altering injuries, that sap their ability to fulfill their god-given potential.

Ballots stop bullets. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We’re done hiding, being afraid,” Ryan Deitsch, a survivor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, declared. “That’s not what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ This is the beginning of the end. This is the fight for our lives.

“REV up America: Register to vote. Then educate. Then vote.”

About a million people attending more than 800 rallies across the country and around the world, were inspired to take action. And vote.

Here are more photo highlights of the March for Our Lives in Washington DC:

Just Say No to Guns © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I want to play dodgeball, not dodge bullets” 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

More than 350,000 turned out for the March for Our Lives, Washington DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We’ll Vote” (and tweet, rally, march and protest) © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gun Owners Against the NRA © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Air Force Veteran at the March for Our Lives, DC. One of the PSAs features veterans who say that weapons of war they were trained to use have no place in civilian society. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Dress codes are more regulated than guns” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is one of the elected who may be on the garbage heap of history because of gun control activists. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Students from North Carolina at the March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Students from Ohio at the March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“You can’t put a silencer on me” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trump: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Signs of Our Times © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Signs from the March for Our Lives across street from National Archives where you can see original copies of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Warning signs © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I march to be the change” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I Remember You”: Backstage notes at March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

200,000 Join Peoples Climate March in DC: ‘There is No Planet B’

More than 200,000 joined the Peoples Climate March in Washington DC © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

More than 200,000 gathered in Washington DC in sweltering heat for the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 29 – twice the number anticipated – to register opposition to Trump Administration’s actions that will set the United States back in its effort to mitigate against the dire impacts of climate change. They formed a line extending more a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue, eventually encircling the White House for a two-minute “heartbeat”.

In the United States, tens of thousands more took to the streets  370 sister marches taking place in nearly all 50 states, from the town of Dutch Harbor in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands to the streets of Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major American cities. Early counts estimated that more than 50,000 people took place nationwide.

Sister marches took place on Saturday across the world including in Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Uganda, Kenya, Germany, Greece, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, and more.

“The solidarity that exists between all of us is the key to having a strong, fair economy and a clean, safe environment,” said Kim Glas, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance, one of dozens of organizations that partnered in the Peoples Climate March. “We can tackle climate change in a way that will ensure all Americans have the opportunity to prosper with quality jobs and live in neighborhoods where they can breathe their air and drink their water. Together we will build a clean economy that leaves no one behind.”

More than 200,000 joined the Peoples Climate March in Washington DC © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This march grew out of the relationship building among some of the country’s most important progressive organizations and movements,” said Paul Getsos, National Coordinator for the Peoples Climate Movement. “In 2014, the march was planned as a singular moment to pressure global leaders to act on climate change. There was a simple demand – act. This march was planned before the election as a strategic moment to continue to build power to move our leaders to act on climate while creating family-sustaining jobs, investing in frontline and indigenous communities and protecting workers who will be impacted by the transition to a new clean and renewable energy economy.”

As it happened, the march coincided with the 100th day of Donald Trump’s occupation of the Oval Office.

In Washington, the march topped 200,000 people at its peak, , representing a huge cross-section of geography and demographics and far outpacing the National Park Service’s permitted space for 100,000 people. The march extended for over 20 blocks down Pennsylvania and all along the south side of the National Mall, with tens of thousands more surging along the mall to push back on the Trump administration’s policies and stand up for “climate, jobs and justice.”

Indigenous people lead the Peoples Climate March: We Exist. We Resist, We Rise. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The day’s activities in D.C. began at sunrise with a water ceremony led by Indigenous peoples at the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Participants included Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members who traveled 1,536 miles by bus from Eagle Bend, SD to attend the ceremonies.

At an opening press conference, representatives from front line communities spoke about the impact that climate change and pollution were already having on their lives and called out the Trump administration for worsening the crisis. They called for a new renewable energy economy that created good paying, union jobs, and prioritized low-income and people of color communities.

The People’s Climate March sets off on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Newseum, celebrating First Amendment freedoms including a free press, free speech, and the right to protest. Trump, who continually attacks the media as “the enemy of the people” became the first sitting president to snub the White House Correspondents dinner, being held that night, which also coincided with his 100th day occupying the Oval Office © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The march kicked off at 12:30 pm in front of the Newseum, which heralds the First Amendment freedoms of religion, free press, free speech, assembly and protest, and was led by young people of color from Washington, D.C. and Indigenous leaders from across the country. Tens of thousands of marchers headed up Pennsylvania Avenue in creatively named contingents, like “Protectors of Justice,” “Reshapers of Power,” and “Many Struggles, One Home.”

(The day coincided not only with Trump’s 100th day, but the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, which Trump snubbed, the first sitting president to do so; Reagan missed one after he was recovering from an assassination attempt but still sent respects.)

Our children are watching © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“When our communities are most threatened by climate; the solutions we build must allow us to have control of our resources and the energy we produce in an equitable and truly democratic way,” said Angela Adrar, Executive Director, Climate Justice Alliance. “They must create meaningful work that allows people to grow and develop to their fullest capacity. They must allow us to retain culture and traditions from our ancestors and give us the freedom of self-determination we so deserve so that we can thrive. This does not come easy and it must come with resistance and visionary opposition. Our existence depends on it.”

Give Me Back My Climate. You Can Keep the Change © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By 2 pm, in sweltering heat for an April day (nearing 90 compared to average of 79) that seemed to validate Global Warming, organizers had succeeded in their goal of completely surrounding the White House. Marchers sat down in the streets in a silent sit-in to recognize the damage caused by the Trump administration over the last 100 days and those who are losing their lives to the climate crisis.

The ‘heartbeat’ of 200,000 climate marchers encircling the White House © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

At the appointed time, everyone created a heartbeat, tapping out a rhythm on their chests or clapping while drummers kept the time, lasting 2 minutes.

“The heartbeat was meant to show that while march participants came from many different backgrounds and communities, their hearts beat as one. It was a heartbeat of resistance, one that began with the Women’s March and will continue through the Peoples Climate March to May Day and beyond,” the organizers said.

Sit-in in front of the White House, encircled by 200,000 Peoples Climate marchers © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Six months ago, my kids woke up to half a foot of water in our living room,” said Cherri Foytlin, director of BOLD Louisiana and spokesperson for the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Now, Trump wants to open up the Gulf Coast to even more offshore drilling. But we have a message for him: we are not afraid, and we will not stop fighting. With 100 and 500 year storms now coming every year, we are fighting for our lives.”

After the heartbeat, marchers rose up with a collective roar and continued down to the Washington Monument for a closing rally. Speakers at the rally celebrated the success of the day, while many marchers gathered in “Circles of Resistance,” some set up around their parachute banners, to talk about how to continue to build their movement.

Peoples Climate Marchers hope to send a message to the White House © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As of 3:30 pm, crowds of people still remained at the Monument while marches continued to take place across the country. The Peoples Climate Movement, a coalition of over 900 organizations representing many of the major social justice, labor and environmental groups in the country, has pledged to keep the momentum going after Saturday, from supporting the May Day marches on Monday to organizing at the local level.

“Today’s actions are not for one day or one week or one year,” said Getsos. “We are a movement that is getting stronger everyday for our families, our communities and our planet. To change everything, we need everyone.”

Promising Ongoing Resistance

The march took place on the 100th day of Trump occupying the Oval Office and the irony was not lost on the marchers, who chanted, “We won’t go away. Welcome to your 100th day.”

Indeed, Trump seemed to go out of his way to stick it to those who believe climate change is an existential threat to communities, the nation and the planet.

On the eve of the climate march, the EPA announced it was scrubbing its website of any mention of climate change.

Free the EPA © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trump has shown utter contempt for climate change, and specifically the hard-fought initiatives Obama put through to transition the economy away from global-warming exacerbating carbon emissions and put the creation of clean, renewable energy industries on a level playing field with the subsidized Fossil Fuel industry.

Trump has shown contempt for local communities, particularly targeting Native American communities, in swiftly (and proudly) restarting the Keystone XL pipeline (his banker to which he owns millions of dollars is a leading investor) and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) which threatens the water supply to native community at Standing Rock.

Just before the People’s Climate March, as if to add insult to injury, his administration backed away from challenging the lawsuit – brought by EPA Scott Pruitt when he was Oklahoma Attorney General – to Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which put new restrictions on coal-fired utility plants. That was the key mechanism that Obama put forward to meet the US commitment to reduce carbon emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The future of the world is in our hands © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And he instructed Interior Secretary Zinke to open up oil and gas drilling on the continental shelf – which would require reversing Obama and Bush’s creation of marine sanctuaries that protected  – under the pretext of an “American First Energy Independence Policy,” which Zinke admitted would also open the way for US Oil & Gas extractors to export US supplies. Trump is literally salivating over the 1.7 billion acres protected, where Zinke said, there are “90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, 327 trillion cubic ft of undiscovered recoverable natural gas.”

(See: Trump Issues ‘Energy Independence Policy’ Dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan)

Through high-handed executive orders, he has reversed regulations or ended implementation or enforcement that now will allow extraction companies to dump toxic waste into streams; he opened the way for a chemical to be used, for lead ammunition that kills birds that feed on the carcasses of animals brought down by those bullets. He doesn’t care.

Denial is not a policy © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And his budget promises to gut the EPA, shutting down entirely climate change research, eliminating 3000 positions.

And on the eve of the march, Pruitt’s EPA scrubbed its website of any findings connected to climate change.

“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land, and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” J.P. Freire, the agency’s associate administrator for public affairs, said in a statement. “We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”

The first page to be updated is a page reflecting President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence, which calls for a review of the so-called Clean Power Plan. Language associated with the Clean Power Plan, written by the last administration, is out of date. Similarly, content related to climate and regulation is also being reviewed, according to the statement from Scott Pruitt’s EPA.

According to the Washington Post, an EPA staffer stated “we can’t have information which contradicts the actions we have taken in the last two months,” adding that Pruitt’s aides had “found a number of instances of that so far” while surveying the site.

At the rally beneath the Washington Monument that followed the march, an EPA employee – who had spent two decades in the Marines before working for 17 years at the EPA, said, “What this Administration is doing to us would be considered an act of war.” Indeed, the very chemical in sarin gas, which Trump used to justify bombing Syria, was just okayed by the Trump Administration.

Trump, he said, is vilifying federal workers like the EPA who work to protect the American people. “We are federal servants. We take the same oath as I took when I joined the Marine Corps. We’ve been made scapegoats.

“America is not for sale,” he said. “We will fight back.”

Water Protectors from Standing Rock at the rally in front of the Washington Monument after the Peoples Climate March © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This past week, President Trump signed an executive order to “review” the last 21 years of large national monument designations — including Bears Ears National Monument – a huge affront to every American whose birthright Trump would sell off to satisfy corporate greed, but especially, yet another attack and violation of treaties made with Native Americans.

“Not only are national monuments an inherent part of Western culture, they hold historical significance to local Tribes and contribute to a $887 billion dollar recreation industry that employs millions of people around the country,” writes Senator Tom Udall (D-NM).

“We need to come together and fight on this. One of the most consistent marks of Trump’s presidency so far has been an outright assault on environmental protections. He could do more damage by rescinding national monument designations and selling off public lands to the highest bidder.”

(See: Trump Races to Chalk Up 100-Day ‘Successes’ by Weakening Antiquities Act, Overturning Education Reform, and Unveiling Tax Plan to Benefit Wealthy, Corporations)

The climate is changing. Why aren’t we? © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The demonstrators gathered just one week after a giant March for Science in Washington DC, New York and hundreds of other cities. (See New Yorkers Among Multitudes in Cities Around the World Marching for Science on Earth Day)

Indeed, the Peoples Climate March will not be a one-off, a show of strength to a dumb and deaf Trump Administration and its complicit Congress.

Sustaining Momentum After People’s Climate March 

Sending a message to the White House © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Climate activists are looking to sustain momentum and are focusing on local actions to counter the  federal dismantling of climate action initiatives.

“Across America, DFA members are mobilizing in their own communities to fight for environmental justice and resist Trump and his oil industry friends. Even after today’s marches, we still have a lot of work to do,” Robert Cruickshank, Democracy for America stated.

“Tomorrow, DFA Electoral Director Annie Weinberg will be leading a training in D.C. hosted by our friends at Climate Hawks Vote. She’ll be training climate activists on how to win elections and build a more reflective democracy.

Climate activists will continue the fight © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In fights to stop coal and oil exports, to block pipelines, and resist oil companies, it’s become clear that elections at every level of government matter. City and county governments grant crucial permits. State governments regulate emissions and help develop renewable energy sources. And the federal government plays the biggest role of all.

“Humanity was already failing to stop climate change before Trump took office. But now our climate is poised to get much, much worse. If we don’t act now, we may lose our final chance at averting a catastrophe.”

Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Action is launching a new organizing strategy aimed at winning local elections.

Climate activists plan to mobilize to win local elections © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Our plan is simple but incredibly ambitious: lay siege to fossil fuels at the local level. Everywhere. All at once. We’ll push local lawmakers to do everything in their power to obstruct the fossil fuel industry. With Trump opening a new wave of oil and gas drilling, we know we need to stand strong locally to create the clean energy future that we need.,” writes Katy Kiefer, Director of Distributed Organizing, Food & Water Watch.  “Onward to the Clean Energy Revolution.”

Other organizations, like Earth Justice, are mounting lawsuits based on the public health and environmental destruction of rolling back environmental initiatives and violating the spirit and letter of the Clean Air and Clear Water acts, as well as the Antiquities Act.

For more information on the April 29th Peoples Climate Mobilization, visit peoplesclimate.org
Follow on Twitter @Peoples_Climate and
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/peoplesclimate

See also:

New Yorkers Among Multitudes in Cities Around the World Marching for Science on Earth Day

Trump Issues ‘Energy Independence Policy’ Dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Trump Races to Chalk Up 100-Day ‘Successes’ by Weakening Antiquities Act, Overturning Education Reform, and Unveiling Tax Plan to Benefit Wealthy, Corporations

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