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Ray Kelly's running scared...
The City Council held a hearing this week on the Community Safety Act, a groundbreaking set of police reform bills that will help to curb the most appalling of the NYPD's bias-based policing practices.
Standard legislative hearing procedure says that the head of the department should have appeared to argue against the bills. But Ray Kelly didn't show up, and instead the Mayor sent a schmendricky lawyer to argue the Administration's perspective - and he refused to debate the merit of the bills, arguing only that the City Council had no legal authority to pass such bills in the first place.
This is huge: Ray Kelly does not feel comfortable defending "stop and frisk" in front of television cameras. It's a dramatic shift from a few short months ago, when Kelly & Bloomberg defiantly dismissed community concerns. What's changed? Damn good organizing. Folks are mad, and they're getting together, and they're making amazing things happen.
"This City Administration displayed its arrogance, its belligerence, its continued disregard for the will of the people, when it dispatched an ill-prepared representative to state their weak case," said PTH member Jean Rice. "The disproportionate stops and frisks in minority neighborhoods cannot be justiified. Communities United for Police Reform is not seeking the means for monetary relief, but for injunctive relief, that would place our city's law enforcement agents back behind our national constitution."
We were excited that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone convened the hearing in the first place, and that Speaker Quinn especially did such a phenomenal job of demolishing the Mayor's lawyer's arguments that the City Council had no power to legislate police issues.
We were overwhelmed by all the positive media coverage - see below for a full round-up of print media coverage of the hearing, featuring over 40 articles!