KEW GARDENS — Queens City Council members reaffirmed Thursday their support for two bills passed by the council last month that curtail the power of the NYPD, despite heavy pressure from the Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office and the police unions.
As DNAinfo New York first reported this week, an aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to recruit a candidate to run against Councilman Mark Weprin as retaliation for his support of the bills and to undermine the council's ability to override a veto.
“This was to support Mark Weprin and the other members that the mayor’s office and the [Patrolman’s Benevolent Association] have been vilifying,” said Councilman Leroy Comrie, the head of the Queens delegation in the council.
Amid rally cries from the social justice organizations in attendance and promises to override the mayor’s promised veto of the two bills, councilmembers said the event—which included the literal signing of a pledge to the bills from the five Queens members there—was a show of support, not of concern that members may be wavering.
“I think all the members are resolute. I think all the push they’ve been getting is actually making their resolve stronger,” said Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, the bill’s chief sponsor, who attended the Queens event.
Williams noted that white councilmembers who supported the bills have largely been the targets of the political pressure.
Speaking with visible emotion at the event, Weprin said his support of the legislation was born out of the experiences of the majority non-white constituents in his district.
“I represent probably the most diverse district in the city of New York,” he said, claiming that 70 percent of the district — divided among numerous races and ethnicities — is non-white. “Every black and Latino [person] I meet has a story about how they were stopped, or a member of their family was stopped. There’s something outrageous about that.”
Weprin blamed the mayor for instituting a quota policy that is driving police officers to make unnecessarily stops.
“Cops are out there stopping people that they don’t want to stop,” he said.
The councilmembers signing the pledge—Comrie and Weprin, along with Julissa Ferreras, Ruben Wills, Daniel Dromm, and Donovan Richards—represent only a portion of a Queens delegation split over the legislation.
The two Republicans in the delegation, Eric Ulrich and Dan Halloran, voted against both bills. A number of the other Democratic members, including Peter Vallone, Jr., Elizabeth Crowley and Peter Koo, voted against one or both of the bills.
Bloomberg has a little over a week to veto the legislation. The council, once the veto is received, will likely schedule a vote to override at the next stated meeting.