Massive Protests Forced Lawmakers Into Action, And Long-Time Police Reform Activists Were Ready With Plans
It took only a handful of days for New York lawmakers to pass a set of police reform bills earlier this month. They are bills that had already been sitting on the shelf, at least two of them for four years. The City Council also just passed its own accountability measures, and lawmakers are now considering a significant cut to the NYPD’s budget—cuts that advocates pushed well before the killing of George Floyd.
While the massive protests seemed to have jolted lawmakers to attention, it was longtime activists who were poised to present concrete plans -- immediately...
It seems like city leaders are listening now, said Gina Arias, an activist with the organization Justice Committee, part of the coalition Communities United for Police Reform. Arias has been volunteering with the group—marching in the streets, taking part in campaigns—for 22 years.
“Now we have the kinder, gentler politicians,” Arias said. “But, you know, don't get it twisted. They have blocked a lot of this work for a long time.”
So people have to keep putting pressure on those politicians, she said.
“Sometimes it has felt like you're just pushing a rock up the hill and it just falls back down,” Arias said of working to change police practices. “And, you know, you just keep on pushing it.”