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The Committee on Advancing Racial Equality (C.A.R.E.) is a direct response to the numerous injustices and systemic failures brought to light by the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd.  DRNY has made clear its stance in the community as an antiracist organization. DRNY is committed to reflecting internally on matters such as bias, privilege, racism, and intersectional social change.  DRNY is committed to fighting for racial justice as the P&A/CAP for the State of New York.  Here you will find updates on the important work we are doing to address racism and racist systems.  Please share your thoughts and suggestions with us at CARE@drny.org.

 

 

 

September 24, 2020: There was no justice for Breonna Taylor today. These indictments hold no one accountable and have reduced her life to that of a wall in an apartment. The officers who killed her should be held accountable for their actions. We must acknowledge that our system of justice is broken. We must do better. DRNY stands with Breonna Taylor and her family.

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September 18, 2020: DRNY is pleased to announce that Erica M. Molina, CAP & PABSS Director, has been appointed to the NYS Bar Association Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform.

The Task Force was created in response to the numerous injustices and systemic failures brought to light by the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd. The mission of the task force is to understand the issues leading to police brutality and to provide recommendations to policymakers, law enforcement and the judiciary to end deleterious policing practices that disproportionately impact persons of color.

“I am honored to represent the disability community and to be on the Task Force.  The legal community bears huge responsibility in ensuring the rights of all people are respected, and I am pleased that the NYSBA has given voice to this cause.  To begin its dialogue with the community about police reform, the Task Force has arranged for multiple public forums to be held this fall.” – Erica M. Molina

“This is a step in the right direction. We can’t achieve reform of any kind without addressing the intersectionality of Race and Disability. We are happy that the NYSBA recognizes the need to have Erica at the table when these discussions and decisions are being made.” – DRNY Exec. Dir. Tim Clune

Letter of appointment


September 15: DRNY Celebrates Hispanic Heritage month

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September 11, 2020

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Dear Erica M. Molina:

I am pleased to confirm your appointment to the New York State Bar Association Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform. Given the tragic circumstances leading to the creation of this Task Force, your duty is a particularly weighty one. I thank you for being willing to address one of the most challenging issues facing our society today.

Task Forces are critical to the work of the Association. They enable us to marshal stakeholders and leaders across the State to address specific issues. Your task will be to understand the impact of racial injustice on police practices and provide a report recommending ways to reform police practices to the NYSBA House of Delegates. Areas of possible reform include, but are not limited to:

1. examining and recommending changes to existing legislation and the proposal of new legislation;
2. the qualifications and training of law enforcement personnel;
3. monitoring of law enforcement activities including the use of body cameras and other data-gathering techniques;
4. internal law enforcement department practices that discourage or stop the reporting of misconduct by other officers;
5. the role of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and other similar entities in the identification and investigation of law enforcement misconduct; and
6. the prosecution of law enforcement misconduct cases.

Because Task Forces are integral to the work of the Association, we encourage and expect your active participation. Your participation also provides an excellent opportunity for you to meet colleagues from across the State with diverse experiences who share your passion on this important subject as well as a chance to engage in a lively exchange of ideas and information. I have also appointed Andrew Brown, President-Elect of NYSBA, and Taa Grays, former 1st JD Vice-President as Co-Chairs of the Task Force. They will be in touch with you in the next few days to set up our first planning meeting.

SMK Welcome Letter to Task Force on Racial Injustice & Police Reform

NYSBA membership is a prerequisite for service on Association Task Forces. As a member of the Task Force, you will be expected to know and adhere to the Association policies. If you are not currently a member, we ask that you enroll promptly. If that is problematic, please contact me personally and we can address the issue of your membership confidentially.

Please join the Task Force for the next general meeting of the Task Force on September 15, at 4:00 P.M. A calendar invitation will shortly follow this letter.

A roster of the members of the Task Force is included with this letter.

I deeply appreciate your willingness to serve on this Task Force and tackle the challenging issues with which you will be faced.

Sincerely,

Scott M. Karson, Esq.
President, New York State Bar Association

cc: Taa R. Grays, Co-Chair
T. Andrew Brown, Co-Chair
Adriel Colón-Casiano, NYSBA Liaison


September 10, 2020

Loretta C. Scott
Rochester City Council President, At-Large
30 Church Street, Room 301-A
Rochester, NY 14614

Re: Proposal for Collaboration Regarding Rochester Police Department Response to Calls for Assistance for People with Mental Illness

Dear Council President Scott:

DRNY is the federal Protection & Advocacy system for the State of New York, charged with providing legal advocacy, community outreach and education to and regarding the rights of people with disabilities. Our Rochester offices are located at 44 Exchange Boulevard. I write to make an offer of collaboration for the creation of a safer, smarter and more humane alternative for Rochester.

On behalf of the entire DRNY staff, I’d also like to express condolences and support to you and your colleagues on the Council as you process and respond to the tragic circumstances of Daniel Prude’s death.

As we both know, Joe Prude picked up the phone for one purpose: to seek help for his brother, a person with mental illness. It is DRNY’s position that the response to such a call cannot be the use of force and restraint by police officers who are armed with weapons, but without the insight and training to properly address manifestations of mental illness. As long as this remains the mechanism of response to such calls, the great potential for harm and tragic loss of life will remain.

These encounters pursuant to Section 9.41 of the Mental Hygiene Law are euphemistically referred to by law enforcement as a Mental Health Arrest. This characterization immediately begins a process that dangerously criminalizes the Daniel Prude’s of our community, who the statute is ironically supposed to protect. Words matter and influence behavior.

Our experience has shown that people with disabilities are the first to be impacted and the last to be considered. We must do better. We have a team of staff attorneys and advocates who have already begun looking at ways that Rochester can build such an alternative into existing structures for emergency response.

I am respectfully requesting that DRNY be part of the discussion with you and your colleagues to address these tragic events. I believe that in the context of such a collaboration, we can work together to create the model that is currently sought and critically needed throughout state and across the nation.

To that end, I and Marc Fleidner, the Director of DRNY’s PAIMI Program (Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) and a member of our Committee for Advancement of Racial Equity would like the opportunity to begin the discussion. As a former Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Marc is acutely aware of your comprehensive work on issues of police accountability.

I want to thank you for your commitment. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience to discuss this important collaboration.

Respectfully,

Timothy A. Clune, Esq.
Executive Director


September 10, 2020

Hon. Lovely A. Warren
City of Rochester Mayor
30 Church Street
Rochester, NY 14614

Re: Proposal for Collaboration Regarding Rochester Police Department Response to Calls for Assistance for People with Mental Illness

Dear Mayor Warren:

DRNY is the federal Protection & Advocacy system for the State of New York, charged with providing legal advocacy, community outreach and education to and regarding the rights of people with disabilities. Our Rochester offices are located at 44 Exchange Boulevard. I write to make an offer of collaboration for the creation of a safer, smarter and more humane alternative for Rochester.

On behalf of the entire DRNY staff, I’d also like to express condolences and support to you and your colleagues on the Council as you process and respond to the tragic circumstances of Daniel Prude’s death.

As we both know, Joe Prude picked up the phone for one purpose: to seek help for his brother, a person with mental illness. It is DRNY’s position that the response to such a call cannot be the use of force and restraint by police officers who are armed with weapons, but without the insight and training to properly address manifestations of mental illness. As long as this remains the mechanism of response to such calls, the great potential for harm and tragic loss of life will remain.

These encounters pursuant to Section 9.41 of the Mental Hygiene Law are euphemistically referred to by law enforcement as a Mental Health Arrest. This characterization immediately begins a process that dangerously criminalizes the Daniel Prude’s of our community, who the statute is ironically supposed to protect. Words matter and influence behavior.

Our experience has shown that people with disabilities are the first to be impacted and the last to be considered. We must do better. We have a team of staff attorneys and advocates who have already begun looking at ways that Rochester can build such an alternative into existing structures for emergency response.

I am respectfully requesting that DRNY be part of the discussion with you and your colleagues to address these tragic events. I believe that in the context of such a collaboration, we can work together to create the model that is currently sought and critically needed throughout state and across the nation.

To that end, I and Marc Fleidner, the Director of DRNY’s PAIMI Program (Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) and a member of our Committee for Advancement of Racial Equity would like the opportunity to begin the discussion. As a former Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Marc is acutely aware of issues of police accountability.

I want to thank you for your commitment. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience to discuss this important collaboration.

Respectfully,

Timothy A. Clune, Esq.
Executive Director


September 3, 2020: DRNY is deeply disturbed by the killing of Daniel Prude. DRNY recognizes Daniel’s death to be just one more example of the countless other deaths of Black people with mental illness because their lives are not valued.

On March 23, 2020, Joe Prude called 911 for help when his brother Daniel, a 41-year old Black man with mental illness, ran naked from Joe’s home. When Rochester police officers located Daniel, he was unarmed and alone. Daniel had not engaged in a single act of violence.

The police handcuffed Daniel behind his back and placed a “spit hood” over his head. Daniel was held face down to the pavement for two minutes, with one police officer’s hands on his head and another’s knees on his back. Daniel lost consciousness and paramedics were eventually called. Daniel remained hospitalized on life support for a week before being pronounced dead on March 30, 2020. The coroner determined Daniel’s cause of death to be “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint”.

Daniel died because of a horrifying chain of events that began when his brother tried the best way he knew how to get help for him during a mental health crisis. This tragedy only just came to light yesterday when the videotape of Daniel’s killing was made public.

The circumstances of Daniel’s death expose the failures of a system driven by presumptions that Black men with mental illness are inherently violent. They confirm the reality that interactions between Black people and the police are far too often deadly. They demand a searching review and dramatic change in a system that fails to recognize that Black lives and the lives of people with disabilities matter.
DRNY is encouraged that New York State Attorney General Letitia James is reviewing this case and that the officers involved have been suspended.

DRNY’s Committee on Advancing Racial Equality (CARE) and PAIMI Program (Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness), are resolutely committed to addressing the systemic failures that resulted in Daniel’s killing. We do so on behalf of our entire staff and in recognition of the persistent risk of harm faced daily by the people of color that we serve. We do so in the name of Daniel, Sandra Bland, and George Floyd, as well as all those too numerous to name.


June 18, 2020: DRNY commemorates Juneteenth and the end of slavery by recognizing it as a paid holiday. We must stand together, help each other and most importantly take action. DRNY will continue its fight for equality, inclusion and justice.

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June 1, 2020: Today marks one week since the murder of George Floyd. Today is also DRNY’s Anniversary of becoming the P&A. I want to be clear about who we are.

DRNY fights every day for equality, inclusion, justice, and human rights for everyone. However, our communities of color are hurting deeply. Our DRNY community is hurting deeply. I am outraged at the continual loss of life and persistent unequal treatment of people of color. We must stand together, help each other and most importantly take action.
 
We stand in solidarity with the families and communities of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other black men and women whose lives have been taken. We stand together with our friends, clients, and colleagues of color.
 
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We joined DRNY to be agents of change for today and for the future. It is only when the silent, good people come forward and be counted that society can change. Today, DRNY does both.
 
We will continue our work to end institutional racism and discrimination in all its forms. I want to hear from you. I am listening. I want to know how you are feeling and what I can do to be an ally.
 
Respectfully and sympathetically,
Tim Clune, Executive Director DRNY
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
October 14, 2019: We proudly celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day every October. Celebrating this Day allows us to reflect on the historical scars of the past and the value of our native tribal nations.
 
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