The state legislative duo erased “the most contentious state law on the books” this week by passing a bill allowing for the release of police disciplinary records. Cops still have a few tricks up their sleeves to hold back the coming deluge of FOIL requests. And police unions are still going to say they’re the real victims as the country confronts systemic racism. But that hardly takes away from the fact that state Sen. Jamaal Bailey and Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell played a key role in taking the cause of police reform one big step forward.
This week's biggest Winners & Losers
This week's biggest Winners & Losers
Who says protests don’t get results? The massive marches by New Yorkers demanding real change in response to the shocking death of George Floyd have already had a major impact, with state lawmakers passing new legislation to hold the police more accountable, and the New York City Council is looking to take action as well. This week’s Winners & Losers recognizes the champions of those criminal justice reforms – and other politicians who were up or down this week as well.
In the latest battle between New York officials and the Trump administration on immigration, state Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez reigned supreme. Immigration enforcement officers can’t make immigration arrests around New York's courts anymore, a federal judge ruled in response to a 2019 lawsuit the two prosecutors brought. It's one success James can tout among her many lawsuits against the Trump administration.
According to Rep. Eliot Engel, who is perhaps this cycle’s most endangered congressional incumbent in New York, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is so powerful that she’s practically a dictator who can all but anoint other candidates seeking office. If that’s the case, then Ocasio-Cortez, who became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2018, will have no trouble securing her own seat in New York’s upcoming state primary on June 23.
After an unprecedented grassroots movement, legislators are finally increasing transparency around policing. And the one being exposed by the increasingly shaky Blue Wall of Silence is Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. Former allies like Assembly members Michael DenDekker and Joe Lentol are denouncing Lynch and returning union campaign donations, forcing Lynch to publicly rescind their endorsements. But don’t feel sorry for Lynch – he’ll be all white.
When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced a series of New York endorsements, she notably left out one democratic socialist constituent. The progressive darling backed every single member of NYC-DSA slate except for the one running in her own district: Zohran Mamdani, who’s challenging Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas in Astoria in the heart of Western Queens, where AOC enjoys strong support. Mamdani has said that Simotas’ neutrality in last year’s contentious Queens district attorney race spoke volumes about her supposed progressive values and independence from the county Democratic apparatus. So what’s AOC’s silence telling him now?
While the response to protests against police brutality in New York has produced many losers, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea was one of the biggest. The week started off with rumors of Shea’s resignation, which were later denied. Then, instead of making a (virtual) appearance at a City Council hearing to answer for his department’s widely maligned response to the protests, Shea got heat for instead sending his deputy, Benjamin Tucker – a black man passed over for Shea’s job. All the while, “copaganda” espoused by Shea and the department – including that a firearm was recovered at one protest and that protest leaders were “outside agitators” – continues to be debunked.