Roosevelt Island March And Rally To Protest Reports Of Public Safety Brutality Incidents - NYC Council Member Lappin and NY State Assembly Member Micah Kellner Urge Removal Of Public Safety Director
The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee held a march and rally
this afternoon to protest against reported allegations of Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department brutality incidents.
The march and rally began at Good Shepherd Plaza with Roosevelt Island elected representatives NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin and NY State Assembly Member Micah Kellner calling for the replacement of current RIOC Public Safety Director Keith Guerra.
Ms. Lappin told the crowd:
... there is no place for brutality on Roosevelt Island or anywhere else. We need to get to the bottom of what has been been happening here but the Roosevelt Island Safety Department is here to protect you, they are here to help you and hanging out is not a crime and quite clearly there is a crisis in confidence so I think we need new leadership and we are here to demand justice...Mr. Kellner added:
... the Public Safety Department under Director Keith Guerra is no longer legitimate...and:
... there are investigations, there are audits going on and I think we all know what they are going to find, that he has not been doing things by the book and the fact is we need someone to come in here to rebuild trust within this community, we need somebody to run Public Safety who understands its their job to protect this community. This is not a high crime community. This is a very low crime community so the idea that kids hanging out in front of a store is somehow a great danger is just ridiculous. Mr. Guerra you can go by your own free will or you will be fired but it's time we had a change on Roosevelt Island.Here's the start of the protest rally at Good Shepherd Plaza and remarks by Ms. Lappin and Mr. Kellner
followed by protesters marching down Main Street.
At the conclusion of the Main Street March, the protesters gathered inside the Good Shepherd Community Center
to hear from a variety of speakers including Civil Rights attorney and former head of the NY Civil Liberties Union Norman Siegel
talk about the 60 year struggle to implement a civilian review board to investigate incident of police brutality.
Prior to Mr. Siegel speaking, RIRA President Ellen Polivy asked the audience for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, RIRA Public Safety Chair Erin Feeley-Nahem
reviewed the current situation with the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department and a participatory poem was read titled "Ode To Guerra".
Here's what happened.
There were additional speakers including Michael Warren (the attorney for the Central Park 5),
Michael Lamonsoff (the attorney representing Roosevelt Island resident Anthony Jones who was allegedly beaten nearly to death by Public Safety Officers last January),
State Senator Jose Serrano, NYC City Council Candidate Ben Kallos and others. Video from their presentations will be available soon.
Near the end of the rally, Roosevelt Island resident and RIOC Director Michael Shinozaki asked to speak to the audience about what the RIOC has done regarding the allegations of Public Safety Department brutality incidents. Here's what Mr. Shinozaki had to say.
Will have additional video soon.
UPDATE 4/22 -An excerpt from Mr. Shinozaki's remarks yesterday:
... We are investigating, I have read through all the cases you guys have sent ... There is alot of passion in this room as their should but from my standpoint, as an officer of the state, I have to dig through the actual facts. How many number of cases, which officers were involved. We have some excellent officers, we have some good officers, maybe we have some problem officers, but I have to, as an employer as well figure out who's good, who's a problem.and video from attorney Michael Warren talking about how to deal with the issue of police brutality, the Civilian Police Review Board process and past cases including that of graffiti artist Michael Stewart.
Is this a problem with leadership? Is this a problem with particular officers? I have emails from members of the community saying what a great job Guerra is doing...
I have to look at what are the facts and circumstances of the case...