- Governor Cuomo announced an extension to the eviction moratorium in place across the state, making it effective through August. The extension only applies to tenants whose income was impacted by Covid-19, meaning that some evictions could be initiated after the current moratorium ends on June 20. In another half measure, he also announced that tenants could use security deposits to cover rent, but that the deposit must be repaid within 90 days.
- After the federal government authorized additional funding for schools in high poverty neighborhoods as part of a Covid-19 relief package, Governor Cuomo cut the state education budget by exactly the same amount, leaving poorer school districts, including New York City’s, to face cuts.
- The Brooklyn DA’s office released the first information on the NYPD’s enforcement of social distancing, with African-Americans making up 35 of the first 40 arrests. There are now calls to release complete demographic information for all citywide arrests.
- According to the Legal Aid Society, the officer who attacked a man as part of the NYPD’s enforcement of social distancing has a history of brutality complaints.
- As predicted by many advocates for the City’s homeless population, the first night of suspended subway service saw 1,000 police officers flood trains to displace homeless New Yorkers trying to avoid shelters where the coronavirus is common.
- Mayor De Blasio announced plans to limit the number of people in certain City parks, possibly after misinterpreting pictures posted on social media.
- A federal judge reinstated the New York presidential primary for June 23 after Andrew Yang and a group of Bernie supporters sued the Board of Elections. Attorney General Letitia James intends to appeal the ruling.
- After being kicked off the ballot because of differences between their legal and professional names, progressive challengers Mary Jobaida (Assembly District 37, Long Island City) and Moumita Ahmed (District Leader for Assembly District 24) mounted successful legal challenges to return to the primary ballot in June.
- Marcela Mitaynes has earned more endorsements in the race for Assembly District 51 (Sunset Park) than any of her opponents.
- The New York City Campaign Finance Board released a report that analyzed voting patterns in NYC, revealing that 21% of registered voters never voted in a single election between 2008 and 2018.
INTERVIEW WITH JABARI BRISPORT, CANDIDATE FOR NY STATE SENATE DISTRICT 25
How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your campaign?
I was terrified when everything started shutting down. I thought that if we couldn’t knock on doors, we wouldn’t win. But we’ve gone fully virtual. Our massive canvassing operation is now a massive phonebanking operation. Our house parties have been replaced by peer-to-peer fundraising. And by linking with local mutual aid projects, we’ve been able to directly help members of the community in ways that none of us predicted at the onset of this campaign.
What do you think the State Senate should prioritize in its response to coronavirus?
Direct aid to those who are most impacted. A freeze on rent, mortgages, evictions, and utilities. Rapidly expand the state’s capacity to tackle unemployment claims – the wait times are over a month, and people need food for their families now. Lastly the State Senate should be passing immediate legislation to work remotely so that we can put checks and balances on Cuomo – he can’t have cart blanche to change laws as he sees fit in the midst of a crisis.
As a public school teacher, what was your reaction to Gov. Cuomo working with the Gates Foundation to “reimagine” education?
I couldn’t believe it. I mean I could, because it’s Cuomo. But it was like seeing disaster capitalism in action. A politician and billionaire colluding to upend a public institution in the midst of a crisis, while people are struggling to figure out rent and groceries, let alone organize Cuomo’s power play. Even worse, the council to “reimagine” schools has zero educators on it. Zero. Our schools need more funding, and it’s Republican Tactics 101 to starve them of funding and then “reimagine” how they should be working.
You’ve fought for more affordable housing in New York City going back to the Bedford Union Armory fight and before. How do you see the #CancelRent movement fitting into that ongoing fight?
I think this crisis has exposed what a lot of Americans don’t readily admit. That so, so many of us are one missing paycheck away from being homeless. When I got arrested with members of NYCC and other activists protesting the Bedford Union Armory, we even got the cops at the precinct to agree that luxury housing in Crown Heights was a terrible idea. On our way out of detention, one officer said “We hope you win” – New Yorkers are fairly aware of the dearth of affordable housing, and also wary of luxury development. Now, with the #CancelRent movement, we can start to push decommodification into the conversation. We can hopefully start moving people from “We need more affordable housing” to “We need more publicly owned housing.”
Many NYC-DSA members worked on your 2017 City Council campaign. How do you think the fight for democratic socialism has evolved in the last three years?
I love reminiscing about DSA in 2017. Everything was so fresh and new. I remember my jaw dropping to the floor when I learned that 500 unique volunteers worked on my 2017 campaign. One year later, around 2000 unique volunteers worked on Julia Salazar’s campaign. A year after that, DSA ran a borough-wide field operation that nearly made Tiffany Caban the Queens DA. I’ve seen my comrades develop organizing chops in leaps in bounds over the past few years, and I’ve seen us go from agitators on the sidelines to power players who are altering the fabric of NY politics. This election cycle will surely prove to be another game changer. I’m extremely excited about the next few years of this organization.
With the coronavirus crisis shutting down door-to-door field operations, NYC-DSA’s endorsed candidates need your help to win their insurgent challenges in June. Sign up to remotely volunteer for Phara, Jabari, Marcela, Zohran, and/or Samelys today! And volunteer to re-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Julia Salazar!
Donate to DSA For the Many, a multi-candidate committee supporting our four state legislative challengers, here.