Roosevelt Island Community Demonstration To Demand An Accountable Public Safety Department 12 PM Saturday February 16 At Good Shepherd Plaza
Following brutality allegations brought against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) unanimously voted to support a community demonstration to "address Public Safety Concerns". The demonstration will take place at noon tomorrow in the Good Shepherd Plaza. Organizers of the demonstration have distributed this two sided flyer below.
Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, New York City is a close-knit, diverse community of working- class and middle class peoples of many nationalities and backgrounds. Our community brings together young people with families, the disabled and physically challenged, seniors living proudly independent lives, and working people and professionals from all over the world.Earlier today, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra sent the following message to the community:
Our island has always enjoyed a peaceful environment, however criminal behavior and violent assault has ironically become centered on the very entity that is supposed to shield us against it: the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department (PSD).
The brutal treatment and life-altering injuries suffered by Island resident Anthony Jones on January 13, 2012, while being detained on “trespassing” charges by the PSD, has propelled onto the public arena the long-standing and overwhelmingly clear pattern of harassment, physical violence and abuse, petty charges almost always dismissed in court, cover-ups, and lies by Public Safety Officers and their leadership OVER MANY YEARS. The case of Anthony Jones and the vigorous pursuit of justice for him by his mother, backed by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee and RIRA as a whole, has, finally, created the atmosphere and conditions whereby other Island residents are coming out with their accounts of PSD abuse and violence. Such mounting accounts, on top of many other long-standing documented cases — which are highlighted below — show clearly and with undeniable credibility that we are not dealing with isolated “exceptions” or a few “rotten apples.”
Rather we are confronting a systemic and structural prob- lem. Which means fundamentally a problem of LEADERSHIP AT THE TOP. That is why our first demand, and the precon- dition for any “reforms” in the training and methods of PSD personnel, must be the IMMEDIATE REMOVAL of Chief Keith Guerra and Deputy Chief Rene Bryan from their posts. We demand that their employer, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation of the State of New York (RIOC) act on this without delay.
Below are just a few of the most egregious cases involving PSD unwarranted and unreasonable aggression and misconduct.
We emphasize that as parents and residents that we do not want to live in the atmosphere of a “security zone” or a state-of-affairs where our constitutional and personal rights to walk, talk, and “hang out,” including our places of residence, are treated as crimes by a mentality that views working people and youth as would-be criminals as opposed to what we are: CITIZENS WITH RIGHTS. Given the clear pattern of abuse, we call for a Federal investiga- tion of the practices of PSD which violate Constitutional protections. We also want to see the passage of New York State Assembly Bill A00956 that mandates a civilian review process for police authorities in New York State. A00956 is sponsored by Assembly Member Micah Kellner, whose constituency includes Roosevelt Island.
The case of Anthony Jones is by no means unique or isolated. But it is the straw that is breaking the camels back. In the Main Street Wire, on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ RICitizensBlotter), and the Roosevelt Island Blogger (http://rooseveltislander.blogspot.com) you can read about the outrageous cases of Mimi Ferdinand, Adib Mansour, Neal Stueber, Elaine Jackson, and Monica Vega (to name a few).
We ask you to join us in a peaceful, legal protest demon- stration this Saturday, February 16th, at 12 Noon on Good Shepard Plaza (543 Main Street). Make your voice heard loud and clear:
STOP PUBLIC SAFETY HARASSMENT AND BRUTALITY! DEFEND YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! REMOVE THE GUERRA-BRYAN REGIME! JUSTICE FOR OUR NEIGHBORS!
JUSTICE FOR ANTHONY JONES!
I am aware of the community unrest regarding an incident which recently occurred on the island. While I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the particular case, due to pending litigation, I do want you to know that I am listening to you, and I want to reassure you that this office does not tolerate excessive use of force nor constitutional rights violations that put members of the public at risk.One of the speakers at the demonstration tomorrow, attorney Michael S. Lamonsoff, is currently representing Mr. Jones in a pending brutality case brought against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department.
The mission of the Public Safety Department is to reduce crime and fear, promote public safety and improve the quality of life for all those who live, work or visit this wonderful island. Sometimes that vision involves finding the median between serving those who call upon us, and the enforcement on those we encounter from those calls for service. Over the last 5 years, we have been able to decrease crime on the island without a "Zero Tolerance" or "Maximum Enforcement" initiative, as some have purported. This decrease has been confirmed by the Commanding Officer of the 114th Pct., who particularly noted that Index Crimes on Roosevelt Island were down by 7 from the prior year. Please note that this is extremely challenging in an already low crime area. Our Community Outreach initiatives of various informational Summits and Safety Days have enabled us to provide added services. Our Community Basketball Games and the Young Adult Program at Sportspark have provided a better connection between our agency and the young adults in the neighborhood. Additionally, we have been able to have approximately 900 Bicycle helmets and 10 Car Seats donated to the community to provide safety for not only the children but for all residents on the island. I realize that there is still more work to be done.
One of the community’s concerns is the establishment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. The current procedure has been in place long before I arrived. I am willing to work with you and the RIOC Board concerning this. Assemblyman Micah Kellner and I have spoken in the past about his proposed legislation and I have never been opposed to his suggestion. In fact, I welcomed it. Although this will not be an easy process, I believe that if we work together on this issue, we can make a difference.
As for the particular case in question, all I can do is ask for your patience in allowing the due process to take its course. Please reserve your final judgment until that time. I have, in the past, and will continue to work with the community to form a better understanding and working relationship between PSD and the community it serves.
Keith Guerra, Director
Public Safety Department