NYC Mayor de Blasio announces new racial justice commission

Mayor de Blasio announced an 11-person panel will be responsible for deconstructing structural racism embedded in the City’s history

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Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City is working to combat systematic racism.

De Blasio announced on Tuesday an 11-person panel will be responsible for deconstructing structural racism embedded in the City’s history. The new commission could include reparations for Black people, per CNN.

“We need to really deal with the unequal social landscape in the city,” said Rev. Al Sharpton about the new plan. “And I think this commission can document it, give it the data and then hopefully set targets on how we equalize it.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

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He also added it’s a “step in the right direction.”

The new initiative plans to identify necessary policy changes and recommend revisions that will reflect equality. But some are questioning the mayor’s motive considering his term is almost up.

De Blasio said he has been working to invest tens of billions of dollars into working class communities of color. And changes are being made in police reform, education and affordable housing.

“That work followed through on the initial vision that I brought to office,” said de Blasio. “But what has happened in the meantime is a deeper understanding of the fact that institutional and structural racism require not just a set of policy changes or not even individual and profound acts of redistribution, but the entire structure now has to be questioned. Right down to each agency of city government.”

The news comes almost a year after protests erupted around the world due to the death of George Floyd while in the custody of police. It was also reported that New York City had the highest spike of Asian hate crimes in major cities in 2020, per CBS.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks about public housing during a press conference at City Hall, June 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Because systemic racism is embedded in our city’s institutions and structures, we must uproot racism by attacking it at the very core, which is charter revision,” said a member of the commission and CEO and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Jennifer Jones Austin.

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She added: “This commission is committed to listening to communities throughout New York City and putting forward revisions to end racism and advance true and lasting justice and inclusion for all.”

This news comes days after a spike in deaths were reported from Riker’s Island, one of the country’s most infamous jails.

According to the Daily News, one Rikers Island jail inmate recently died in an incident involving his head being trapped in a handcuff slot, and another committed suicide.

“The first inmate, Tomas Carlo, 48, was found unresponsive at around 6:15 p.m. March 2 in a clinic area of the Anna M. Kross Center with his head stuck in the cuff port — a small metal door built into a larger jailhouse door where inmates slide their hands through so that correction officers can securely shackle them,” a Daily News source said.

Before he was utlimately pronounced dead, Carlo had been on life support at Elmhurst Hospital, where he’d been rushed. The exact conditions that lead to Carlo’s death are still unknown and being investigated by agency officials, according to the Daily News sources.

“A second inmate, Javier Velasco, was found Friday in his cell at the Anna M. Kross Center with a linen wrapped around his neck just after 5 a.m. in an apparent suicide,” per an internal incident report procured by the Daily News.

The Daily News reported that Velasco was discovered by two officers around 5:15 a.m., three days after Carlo’s death. Medics arrived on the scene not more than 5 minutes after they were called, but Velasco was pronounced dead within the hour.

“Any death in custody is profoundly saddening, and our condolences are with the families of these men,”Rikers deputy commissioner of public information, Peter Thorne, said, per the Daily News. “The safety and wellbeing of those placed in our custody is our number one priority, and full investigations are underway into these incidents.”

Additional reporting by Jamal A. Hansberry

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