Council Members Feeling Heat from NYPD Over Racial Profiling Bill
NEW YORK—City Council members who voted for legislation to curb stop and frisk continue to be pressured to change their votes.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) endorsed Council Member Mark Weprin during his first term. Following Weprin’s vote in favor of Intro 1080, he not only lost the endorsement, but is also having to fight bad PR in his district.
Weprin has been the target of fliers and emails from the PBA, who say Intro 1080, which prohibits biased-based profiling and allows lawsuits to be brought against the city if someone feels profiled, will make policing tougher and neighborhoods more dangerous.
Weprin, who has been a council member in Queens District 23 since 2010, has spent the weeks since the late night council session on the vote defending his decision.
“I feel very strongly this in the best interest of the long-term future of the City of New York and the best interest of my district. That is why I support the bill,” said Weprin. “It is hurtful to me to personally attack me on this issue when I am really just trying to do my job.”
Weprin said he has spoken with the PBA multiple times in recent weeks, and describes the meetings as cordial. He said he addressed the issue of lawsuits with the PBA, which they fear will increase if the bill goes into law.
Weprin is not alone.
Many of the 34 council members who voted for 1080 have been the targets of fliers, advertisements, emails, and letters from the police officers’ unions. Council member Sara Gonzalez lost her endorsement from the Detectives Endowment Association.
The NYPD’s Captains Endowment Association was spotted handing out fliers at the Staten Island Ferry terminal earlier this month. The flier listed Council member Deborah Rose’s number and email and asked citizens to call her and tell her to vote against overriding the Mayor’s veto, which is expected to be delivered by the end of July.
“If they are right and a lot of lawsuits come with this, which is not the intent of this bill, there is nothing to stop us from making changes in the future to address that issue,” Weprin said. “That (lawsuits) is not what we want to have happen or expect to have happen and not something we will allow to have happen.”
Council members have been banding together in support of each other. Lead bill sponsor Jumaane Williams held a press conference on Staten Island July 17 with Rose condemning the attacks.
On Thursday, Council member Leroy Comrie will be joined by six Queens council members, including Weprin, to sign a pledge to override the mayor’s veto.
“It would be an injustice to switch my vote because it is my job to do what I believe is in the best interest in my community and that is why I am voting yes on the override,” said Weprin.