Assemblywoman Fernandez and Senator Bailey Host Press Conference Announcing the Passage of Landmark Criminal Justice and Police Reform Bills

Bronx, NY – NYS Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez (D-Bronx) and NYS Senator Jamaal T. Bailey (D-Bronx) gathered with Bronx elected officials Assemblyman Michael Blake (D-Bronx) and Senator Luis Sepulveda (D-Bronx) to applaud the passage of landmark criminal justice reform bills by the State Legislature.

Following the recent death of George Floyd, as well as a history of police misconduct and abuse, New York State lawmakers pushed forward and passed a package of bills aimed to reform an antiquated criminal justice and police system. Amongst the bills included a repeal to 50-a, the Eric Garner Chokehold Act, Amy Cooper Act, banning of racial profiling, and requiring law enforcement to provide medical and mental first aid to individuals in custody.

“It has been a hard-fought battle to get many of these criminal justice & police reform bills passed,” said Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez. “I first introduced protection for individuals in custody after learning about the death of Andrew Kearse in the back of a squad car, where he begged for help & did not receive it. Our officers take an oath to protect us, and that is an oath that must be upheld. ‘I Can’t Breathe’ should never be someone’s last words. I am thankful to the advocates, to Angie Kearse, and to everyone who stood out in the streets in protest demanding for change.

“Last week we were able to accomplish monumental change in the State of New York,” said Senator Jamaal T. Bailey. “However, this is just the first step in this uphill battle. For far too long, society has permitted injustice to permeate our communities, but as a legislature, we are taking decisive steps forward to remedy that. The advocates, the mothers, the families, and the people have spoken, and we will no longer accept the death or the brutality against an innocent black person. The police reforms that were passed were necessary. We needed to repeal 50-a, we needed to pass the special prosecutor bill, we needed to pass a bill that requires law enforcement to call for medical attention when an individual in custody requests it, and we needed all the other reforms that became law. I would like to thank my colleagues in government who sponsored and championed these bills, and the families of the movement for always pushing for justice.”

“The past few weeks have been historic in NY State,” said Senator Luis Sepulveda, “and while the conditions that brought us here are horrendous, I am grateful we've been able to pass crucial police reform and accountability laws. I thank my colleagues Senator Jamaal Bailey, Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez, and all others for their leadership on these bills. As representatives of the Bronx we are keenly aware of the disproportionate impact of police brutality and the criminal injustice system on black and brown communities, and we will not stop here in the fight towards true freedom and justice."

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: "As always, Bronxites are leading the way toward a more just society and we should be incredibly proud of the work that State Senator Bailey, Assemblywoman Fernandez, and our entire Assembly Bronx Delegation have done thus far. Our work to rebuild trust between police and the communities they serve is only beginning but I am confident that the leadership shown by Bronx representatives will be integral in achieving this goal."

US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) announced that she, and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass), is introducing a bill on the federal level ensuring law enforcement officers provide medical attention to individuals in custody, akin to the legislation Assemblywoman Fernandez had introduced.

"Andrew Kearse died begging for help and the police officer who looked the other way got off scot-free. Our bill will make sure that officers who fail to obtain potentially life-saving care for people in their custody are held accountable," said Senator Warren. "This legislation is just one step - I will keep working with my colleagues for a complete overhaul of our policing and justice systems."

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed these landmark bills into law during the past few days. For any questions or follow ups, please reach out to Forhad Rahman at rahmanf@nyassembly.gov.