Advocates Call on De Blasio and Local Leaders Across State to Avoid Selective Enforcement on Social-Distancing and Pursue Civic Education Instead of Criminal Prosecution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2020

ADVOCATES CALL ON DE BLASIO AND LOCAL LEADERS ACROSS STATE TO AVOID SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT ON SOCIAL-DISTANCING AND PURSUE CIVIC EDUCATION INSTEAD OF CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

***NYUJ CHIEF STRATEGIST KHALIL A. CUMBERBATCH AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS***

(New York, N.Y.) – Over the past week, serious concerns have been raised about aggressive and selective enforcement of social-distancing regulations by the de Blasio administration, illuminating a civil rights and disparate justice issue that could impact residents across the state. Reports of troubling incidents around the city and the Mayor’s comments on social media raised concerns that aggressive policing was targeting Jewish New Yorkers, while release of arrest data last week showed that Black and Latinx individuals were disproportionately impacted by aggressive social distancing enforcement practices.

In a statement, New Yorkers United for Justice Chief Strategist Khalil A. Cumberbatch, a formerly incarcerated New Yorker, said:

“Following Mayor de Blasio’s comments last month that raised legitimate fears of disparate enforcement toward New York’s Orthodox Jewish community, his administration and local officials across the state should have taken every precaution to ensure the enforcement of social distancing rules was carried out equally and consistently throughout the whole city, and without resorting to the kind of over-criminalization that has unnecessarily subjected far too many people to the criminal justice system. Instead, we’ve found that aggressive enforcement tactics, including increased summonses and arrests, have disproportionately harmed African American and Latinx communities.

“We call on the de Blasio Administration to change course by immediately removing social distancing regulations enforcement from under the purview of the NYPD, avoid harmful criminalization, enforce social distancing regulations equally amongst all New Yorkers, and be open and transparent with social distancing enforcement data moving forward. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces all of us to accept a ‘new normal’ in public interactions, the Mayor and local leaders across our state should be focused on civic education and community cooperation, and not selectively criminalize social behavior in targeted communities.”

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About New Yorker United for Justice (NYUJ):

New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition comprised of local and national non- profit organizations committed to supporting a movement that will bring much-needed criminal justice reform to New York State and ensure that policies promote safety and fairness. NYUJ aims for legislative urgency to fix a broken criminal justice system that punishes the poor and communities of color, tears families apart, and makes New Yorkers less safe. NYUJ believes that a system that ensures equal access to justice for anyone accused in New York State, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or social economic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.