On Thursday, October 19th, advocates held a “People’s Hearing” to protest the blocking of a hearing for the Community POWER Act, a bill which would create an elected board and Independent Prosecutor with the power to discipline, fire and prosecute officers who have committed misconduct.
While police violence continues unchecked, The bill has sat without a hearing for over 15 months, blocked by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
After holding a rally at the gates outside of City Council with supportive Council Members Charles Barron and Kristin Richardson Jordan, a large group of bill supporters entered into City Hall to attend the City Council meeting.
During Adrienne Adams’ opening remarks, campaign leader Lee Gill stood up from the audience and declared a point of order, protesting the blocking of a hearing for the bill and the continued failure of the City Council to pass police accountability legislation. The rest of the group stood up and held portraits of those killed by the NYPD. Speaker Adams and Council Majority leader Keith Powers immediately ordered security to clear the gallery.
City Council Sergeants-at-arms then swarmed Lee, a black man, handcuffed him and escorted him out of the chambers. Advocates continued to chant and protested the detainment of Gill as other officers kicked anyone holding victim portraits out of chambers, while Speaker Adams turned her back to them and folded her arms.
Gill was then kept detained in a room at City Hall, while campaigners chanted “Let him go!” and “Free speech!” outside, and Council Member Barron intervened for his release. After almost a half hour, Lee was released with a desk appearance ticket and charges of disorderly conduct.
Shortly after, Barron went back to the chambers and because he had missed a number of votes while he was making sure Gill was released, asked for “unanimous consent” of his colleagues to vote.
Council Member Natasha Williams objected, saying that protestors were “rude” and falsely claiming they were “violent” – and prevented Barron from voting. He then spoke from the floor to protest the suppression of his vote and the “dictatorship of the Speaker” that prevents bills from having hearing. Council Member Kirstin Richardson Jordan also spoke in support of the bill and pushed the council to have a hearing on it. Adrienne Adams made no remarks in response to the protest or Barron’s objections, and cut off community discussion while Barron was on stack to make remarks, ending the meeting.
The Campaign for the Community POWER Act condemns the racist and repressive targeting, handcuffing and detainment of Gill. This biased overreaction is a reflection of top Democrats’ fear and opposition to our bill – which would truly challenge the NYPD and give the community power to protect itself against their abuse.
Instead of taking on police corruption, Adrienne Adams has decided to target peaceful protestors and punish Council Members who stand up to her. To her, the threat is not unchecked police abuse and violence, proven time and time again by headlines and lawsuits, but rather, the people who would challenge her iron grip on the City Council and which bills pass- and which die.
We will not let power-hungry, status quo politicians handcuff our free speech and our right to make the change we desperately need.
We will fight the charges against Lee, fight for a hearing for our bill and its passage. We continue to call on all bill sponsors to sign onto the discharge petition, which would bring our bill directly to a vote and end the deadlock in the council.
Drop all charges against Lee Gill!
Speaker Adrienne Adams: hold a hearing on the Community POWER Act now!
Council Members Chi Ossé, Alexa Aviles, Farah Louis, Shahana Hanif, Amanda Farías, Carmen De La Rosa, and Pierina Ana Sanchez, sign onto the discharge petition!
Community control of police now! Defend the people and stop the violence, repression and corruption of the NYPD!