City Council overrides mayor’s vetoes, passes Community Safety Act

Councilman Jumaane Williams broke down crying after announcing his votes on the Community Safety Act. Williams said his brother had texted him to tell him his late father would have been proud of him today. Credit: WIlliam Alatriste
Councilman Jumaane Williams broke down crying after announcing his votes on the Community Safety Act. Williams said his brother had texted him to tell him his late father would have been proud of him today. Credit: William Alatriste

In a slightly more subdued stated meeting than the one on June 26 that ended with a 2 a.m. passage of the Community Safety Act, the City Council voted to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s vetoes of the anti-profiling bill and inspector general bill.

The inspector general bill passed 39-10, and the anti-profiling bill passed 34-15. All councilmembers voted the same way they did in the first vote on June 26, though Councilmen Peter Vallone and Dan Halloran were absent.

Vallone had been a fierce opponent of both bills, initially blocking them in the public safety committee of which he is the chair, before Speaker Christine Quinn pushed them to a full council vote with a motion to discharge.

Via Twitter on Thursday, Vallone expressed dismay over the bills’ passage, tweeting: “The city just became less safe.”

Halloran had supported the inspector general bill, but opposed the anti-profiling bill.

The inspector general bill takes effect Jan. 1, leaving the next mayor to appoint the monitor to that Department of Investigation post. The anti-profiling bill will take effect 90 days from today.

The mayor’s only recourse now is to sue to block enforcement of the bills.

An impassioned Williams expressed dismay at the mayor’s continued opposition to the bills.

“I do wish the administration had sat down with us to discuss these issues but they refused to do so,” Williams rued.

Williams also said he felt the struggle over the bill’s passage highlighted a civil rights struggle that remains.

“This is about civil rights,” Williams said, noting that none of the people who voted against the bills are in the black and Latino caucuses. “We have to recognize that there is an issue there that we have to deal with.”

Councilman Charles Barron also highlighted issues of race relations, specifically with the NYPD, invoking the deaths of Ramarley Graham and Sean Bell at the hands of police officers as reasons the passage of the bills was particularly important.

Opponents of the bills were largely respectful and calm, with Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, a Democrat, saying she “strongly” disagrees with the bills and expressing concern that they “will limit the police department’s ability to be proactive.”

“The NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk has taken thousands of guns off the streets and saved countless lives,” Crowley said.

But the bills’ sponsors were careful to note that neither bill is a ban on stop-and-frisk.

“This does not stop stop-and-frisk, it only stops profiling,” Williams said. “I hope that the police union will stop spreading these lies to their police officers about what these bills do.”

After expressing a desire to continue to “encourage the good proactive policing that we continue to do,” Williams stopped to thank his mother and his brother, his voice shaking.

As he started to cry, Williams explained that his brother had texted him after seeing him on CNN to tell him his late father would have been proud of him.

The entire council, members for and against the bills, stood and applauded.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



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