The VOCAL-NY Guide to Your Week, April 19, 2015: Victory & Loss

This Week

  • Monday, 4/20 @ 6PM: Protest a conference of Wall Street bankers & hedge fund managers making billions off of policies that hurt our communities. Contact: Fred Wright at 646-321-5282 or
  • Wednesday, 4/22 @ 5:30PM: Demand City Hall add good jobs for our communities to their “PlanNYC”, New York City’s blueprint for making our city more climate resilient and prepared for future superstorms like Hurricane Sandy. Where: Park Row right next to City Hall Travel: 4,5,6,J,M,Z trains to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall; or 2,3 trains to Park Place. Contact: Fred Wright at 646-321-5282 or

Week in Review

  • We recieved sad news that VOCAL New York leader Hortense Sinclair, who we all knew as Sinclair, passed Sunday night. Sinclair was a dedicated leader and fighter. She was a major leader in the 30% rent cap campaign, taking the streets, lobbying and rallying anytime she was called upon. She always brought her warm smile, compassion and humor. She will be sorely missed. But while we mourn, we continue to take action, just as Sinclair and everyone else we have lost would want us to.
  • We had a victory when Mayor de Blasio announced major improvements to the criminal justice system that will improve summons court and immediately reduce the number of people languishing in Riker’s Island. Read more here. Checkout media coverage featuring us responding to the news in Huffington Post, ABC
    and DNAInfo.

“When over 1 million New Yorkers have outstanding warrants for low-level violations, something is amiss,” said Alyssa Aguilera, political director of Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders New York, which opposes mass incarceration. “A summons should be used to avoid unnecessary arrests, not to perpetuate them. “These changes will most benefit low-income people of color, many of whom are unable to adjust their work schedules and family responsibilities to make a court appearance,” Aguilera added.” Huffington Post.  

  • We got national media attention when we launched a new campaign to pass city legislation to create an “Office of Drug Strategy” with our allies in the City Council. If passed, the office could develop a public health approach to drugs and reverse failed “drug war” policies in New York City. Read more here. Checkout just some of the media coverage featuring us in ABC News, Newsday and Brooklyn Eagle. And checkout an Op-ed in Gotham Gazette co-authored by our policy director, Matt Curtis, supporting the bill.

“The proposed agency would analyze current policies, recommend improvements and review proposals. It could help work through complexities like the interplay between government-approved, needle-exchange programs and a state law against carrying syringes, said Matt Curtis, the policy director of the Vocal NY advocacy group.” Associated Press.

  • We stood with our allies at Communities United for Police Reform opposing City Council’s call for 1,000 more NYPD officers. Read more here. Checkout media coverage in DNAInfo.

“Alyssa Aguilera, political director of VOCAL-NY, said she was surprised that Mark-Viverito was so vigorously pushing the proposal for more police given her stance on issues such as stop-and-frisk. “We consider the Speaker a tremendous ally for social justice. That’s why this is so perplexing,” Aguilera said.” DNAInfo.

  • We took the streets for the “Fight for $15” national day of action. Check out pics here and coverage in the NY Post of a protest we led with our allies making the connections between racial & economic justice. And checkout media coverage of a rally the day before with the New York City Comptroller, coverage in
    the Brooklyn Eagle and pics here.

“Elizabeth Owens, a community organizer for Vocal New York, said she used to hold down night jobs at McDonalds and Burger King while living in a homeless shelter. But earning only $8 an hour, she couldn’t afford to put down a security deposit and first month’s rent on her own apartment. Owens told the Brooklyn Eagle that the shelter charged her $215 a month rent, plus she had to pay for “subway, food and everything else.” Brooklyn Eagle.

  • We shutdown an investor conference of Wall Street bankers & hedge fund managers not paying their fair share of taxes & buying our politicians with campaign contributions. Checkout coverage in the NY Post & CNBC.

What We’re Reading

  • Fight for 15: Raising the Minimum Wage Would Drastically Reduce Poverty. (Gotham Gazette) “Human services providers across the nation are on the front lines in the fight against poverty, and a lack of living wages for millions of workers makes our work that much harder. The poverty landscape isn’t just growing, it’s changing. More and more households with at least one employed person are
    finding it harder to make ends meet, meaning more people are coming through the doors of our agencies, and we have fewer tools to help lift them into the middle class. There is an urgent need for change.”
  • Protesters Rally Against $1,850/Month Studios In Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. (The Gothamist) “Dozens of protesters gathered yesterday in the steadily-lengthening shadow of 626 Flatbush Avenue, a high-rise luxury development in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. Not only is the tower an eyesore on the perimeter of Prospect Park, they argue, but only 51 of 626 Flatbush’s 254 units have been set aside as affordable housing. They claim that building manager Hudson Companies is listing “market rate” studios in the building at a whopping $1,850 per month. (Hudson Companies vice president Alison Novak told us that market-rate prices won’t be set until construction is complete.)”

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