Social Justice

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‘The Music Elevates the Purpose’: The Blacksmiths Band Together For Racial Justice

Russell Hall and Michela Marino Lerman leaving Washington Square Park at a DSA musicians’ march in support of BLM on June 29, 2020. (Photo: Reuben Radding)

As the problems of America incited protests across America, the streets of New York City became well worn by those demanding more for their country. Shouts and chants weren’t the only sounds comprising the din of the city’s demonstrations. There was a marching band, jazz trio, vocalist, string orchestra, and tap dancer heard within these movements, and they are a movement unto themselves—they are The Blacksmiths.  More →

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COVID-19 Could Leave Lasting Effect On Mental Health In City Jails

(Photo: Tdorante10 via Wiki Commons)

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, jails and prisons have become hubs for infection, with crowded conditions that leave few opportunities for social distancing. The spread of the coronavirus in New York City jails has been well-documented, including at the city’s infamous Rikers Island jail complex, which has been called the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the pandemic.  More →

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A Food Pantry That Weathered the Height of the Pandemic Is Bracing For a Second Wave

A volunteer at the check-in desk in front of Church of the Village. (Photos: Trish Rooney)

On a gloomy Saturday afternoon, The Church of the Village’s sanctuary is a beehive of activity. Fifteen volunteers in masks, hairnets, and aprons unpack boxes, bag food, and move bins the size of bathtubs through the room and down the line, onto a conveyor belt to the volunteers at the entrance. It’s the last stop before the food is passed to patrons waiting patiently on the sidewalk. There’s a shelf of Gatorade, jumbo boxes of raisins, bags and bags of bagels. The food shelves stretch from the bottom of the steps by the altar, down the length of the nave, right to the door. More →

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“It’s Just Not Cool to Stick Up For Us’: Hasidim Feel Villainized as City Cracks Down

(Photo: Bonnie Natko/Flickr)

After months of media attention surrounding Hasidic resistance to social distancing guidelines, Brooklyn’s Hasidim fell under state-mandated lockdown orders that have sparked physical confrontations. Earlier this month, demonstrators in Borough Park shouted “Jewish Lives Matter” at a bonfire kindled with masks; the next night, a mob assaulted and spit on journalist Jacob Kornbluh, beating him to unconsciousness. The violence marks a turning point in long-building tensions between the Hasidim and the rest of the city, which have drastically escalated in intensity over the last few months. More →

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A Look Back at the Street Fight for a Complete Census Count in Central Queens

Christian Cassagnol. (Photo: Raphael Helfand)

The census ended yesterday, Oct. 15, after a Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday. The decision, which stayed an order from a lower court that would have allowed the count to continue until the end of the month, marks the end of a long fight for a complete count across the country. In Queens Community Board District 4, which presides over Elmhurst, Corona and Corona Heights, the stakes were especially high. CB4 district manager Christian Cassagnol and board member Kristen Gonzalez have pushed hard for outreach all year. The immigrant populations they represent have always been undercounted, leading to a lack of resources in their communities.

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The Police Say CompStat Saved NYC, So Why Do NYPD Captains Want to Pull the Plug?

Bill Bratton (left), Bill de Blasio (second from left) and others after an active shooter training exercise in 2015.

One day in 1995, two officers from the New York Police Department walked up to a podium at Harvard University’s Ash Center. Louis Anemone and John Yohe were representing the department as a finalist in the Kennedy School’s Innovations in American Government competition, and their excitement about the force’s new, computerized crime-fighting system was palpable. “It’s revolutionizing the way the NYPD polices the city of New York,” Anemone told the judges. Giving officers rapidly-updating maps of crime all over the city, the system was “a shot of adrenaline to the organization of the NYPD,” the officer stressed, “right to the heart.” Previous decades had seen a tremendous rise in crime, but with the advent of CompStat, as it was called, the police said they were finally able to flatten the curve. More →