The city’s process lacks the transparency and the inclusivity that activists are looking for, said Luke Grandis, an organizer with Vocal NY who helped put together the event, along with several other social justice groups. Organizers are calling their event a forum, rather than a demonstration, in hope of avoiding a police presence in case anyone is uncomfortable speaking in front of officers.
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“It could happen in the middle of the night,” Feliz Guzman, 39, an organizer with Vocal NY, told protesters.
”You find out you are being moved and you do not know where you are going to go. So in the middle of all your issues you are having and trying to preserve your humanity, you end up being told that you are not welcome there anymore.”
Programs in big cities are adapting, too. For example, VOCAL-NY, a statewide grassroots organization that helps low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, runs a syringe services program out of Brooklyn. When the pandemic struck New York City, the organization started providing people with personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer.
Roger Clark, a 48-year-old VOCAL-NY community leader, called the bill’s passage “a very big deal.”
“I have been fighting for years to pass this 50-A bill, and for years the police unions have been blocking the legislation, telling [lawmakers] that it was wrong, that it’s gonna put officers at risk, which we know is not true,” Clark said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”