Providence PASSES the Groundbreaking ‘Community Safety Act’ (Newly renamed Providence Community – Police Relations Act)

On Thursday June 1, the Providence City Council chamber erupted with cheers as the council voted to pass  the Providence Community-Police Relations Act (formerly the Community Safety Act).  The vote was 13-1.   The ordinance bans racial profiling and profiling based on gender identity, place limits on police searches and surveillance, limit police collusion with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and further protect the rights of immigrants, youth, and people of color. It also creates pathways for the community to hold the police accountable to the community.

“The Community Safety Act is an incredible victory for and by the people of Providence,” said Vanessa Flores-Maldonado, STEP UP Network Campaign Coordinator. “The CSA was crafted by the people, and the people have continued to fight and overcome countless obstacles in the past four years that sought to silence us. Today is proof that the people will be heard and that communities can succeed on our own terms.”

The ordinance passed the first vote unanimously with a vote of 12-0 and was expected to easily pass the second vote on April 27. But the ordinance was tabled when the Fraternal Order of Police strenuously objected to passage.  The Council tabled a vote until June 1 and established a Working Group of Councilors, police, city administrators and community members to resolve these issues.   After five meetings, the working group approved language changes that resolved those differences and all present) agreed to not oppose the ordinance with its new language.  That new language has been adopted by the Ordinance Committee  and becomes the final language of the ordinance.

Thursday’s vote is the culmination of many years of work for local activists. Almost five years ago, community groups began a process to create policing policies that would be more reflective of community values and address abuses experienced by many people of color. They created the STEP-UP Network, which led workshops with youth, listened to the concerns of parents of children of color, researched best practices of police departments across the country, and drafted an ordinance that was submitted to the Providence City Council on June 19th, 2014.  That version had eight co-sponsors: Jackson, Aponte, Castillo, Sanchez, Solomon, Matos, Jennings, and Correia.

“Where I lived there were always cops wrongfully targeting someone because of who they hung out with and what they look like. I don’t want people in my community targeted because of a police’s bad day” said Tommy Svay of the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM).

Since then STEP-UP Network continued to educate, protest, promote, and push for action by the City Council, garnering support from Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris and Councilman Kevin Jackson.

The result was an ordinance revised multiple times, that addresses numerous aspects of policing and models ways in which people can hold police accountable to the communities they’re supposed to serve. Key points of the CSA can be viewed here.

Young people across the city celebrated the ordinance’s likely passage. “I support the Community Safety Act, because I have witnessed that police are not being held accountable in my community,” said Jorrell KayKay, of PrYSM. “I also realized that it takes the community to hold police and the city accountable after spending four years of my high school life trying to push the CSA into law. This is such a big victory to me!”

Though the immediate impacts of the act will only be local, the CSA’s proponents believe its implications are national in scope. “At a time when we’re seeing a return to failed ‘tough on crime’ policies at the national level, Providence is poised to pass some of the most progressive community safety provisions in the country,” said Martha Yager of the American Friends Service Committee. “We believe that the CSA can be a model for what local and state governments can do to prevent racial profiling, and instead protect the safety and human rights of all people.”

 

The video recording of the council meeting will be available at www.rifuture.org a few hours after the vote.

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The STEP UP Network includes Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA), and the American Friends Service Committee – South East New England (AFSC-SENE)

 

 

We Did It

On Thursday June 1st, 13 out of 14 City Councilors voted YES on passing the Community Safety Act, now know as the Providence Community Police Relations Act.

It is one step away from becoming law. So to help us turn this into actual law, please call Mayor Elorza at 401.421.2489 and tell him to actually support the CSA by signing it into law.

Another (super late) Updated

It’s been a month since we’ve formally updated our website but if you want more immediate updates, please follow our Twitter @pvdCSA.

So last time, we were urging folks to show up for the second vote for the CSA before the City Council. Unfortunately, a highly false and misinformed letter by the Fraternal Order of the Police, aka the police union, intimidated several council-members to vote to table the ordinance until June 1st. A CSA Working Group was instead created to address some of the issues that the police incorrectly felt were not addressed. Initially this Working Group did not include any community members, but our strongest ally Councilor Mary Kay Harris quickly worked on getting that changed.

We are forever grateful for the work that Justice Gaines, Martha Yager, Shannah Kurland, and Linda Heng put into this Working Group. As members of the CSA Coalition and larger Providence community, these 4 folks ensured that the power of the CSA did not wane due to police intimidation.

This Working Group has concluded and are expected to submit a report with new revisions of the CSA, including a name change. For all intents and purposes, we will still refer to the Providence Community-Police Relations Act as the Community Safety Act or CSA.

June 1st is around the corner. so once again let’s pack City Hall.
we are asking folks to please show up at 630pm for the second vote of the CSA.

Once passed, it will be brought before Mayor Elorza where we expect him to sign into law.

For the facebook event, please click here.

The Pressure is ON

Find who your city council representative is by clicking this link:
https://gis.providenceri.com/council-viewer/

We want to continue pressure all City Councilors but we especially want to target –
Seth Yurdin, Ward 1
Thank him for his vote last week and for his upcoming second YES vote.  His previous work on PERA is vital to the CSA.
401-484-7207
ward1@providenceri(dot)com
Twitter: @SethYurdin

Samuel D. Zurier, Ward 2
Thank him for his vote last week. Ask him to not hide behind what the AG says and go with the city solicitor and what the community needs.
401-861-6313
Ward2@providenceri(dot)com

Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr., Ward 4
Thank him for his yes vote – that took courage and it is appreciated. Ask him to do it again.
401-497-1430
Ward4@providenceri(dot)com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook(dot)com/Nicholas.Narducci.Jr/

Jo-Ann Ryan, Ward 5
Thank her for her support. She has been wonderful. Hope we can count on it one more time.
401-595-8604, 401-464-2046
Ward5@providenceri(dot)com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook(dot)com/Ward5Providence/
Twitter: @JoannRyanPVD5

Michael J. Correia, Ward 6
Noticed your absence last week. Hope you will be there this week in support of the Community Safety Act. Time to be on the right side of history on this one.
401-603-6723
Ward6@providenceri(dot)com

John J. Igliozzi, Ward 7
Thank you for your support last week. We hope you will stay strong on this.
401-351-9802
Ward7@providenceri(dot)com

Wilbur W. Jennings, Jr., Ward 8
Thank you for your support last week. We hope we can continue to count on you for support this week.
401-461-3617
Ward8@providenceri(dot)com

Terrence M. Hassett, Ward 12
Thank him for his vote last week and make sure he will support it on the second vote.
401-454-0644
Ward12@providenceri(dot)com

David A. Salvatore, Ward 14
Thank him for his support last week. Hope he will stay strong this week.
Ward14@providenceri(dot)com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook(dot)com/DavidASalvatore/
Twitter: @DavidASalvatore

Sabina Matos Ward 15
We saw that she was absent and hope that she will be present to vote yes on Thursday. Please don’t let the police intimidate you. Do what is right for your community.
Ward15@providenceri(dot)com
Twitter: @Sbina_Matos

If you are active on social media, please tweet at Yurdin and Zurier or post to their Facebook pages asking something like this:

@sethyurdin Thanks for supporting the CSA + previous work around PERA. We hope to see you continue that legacy this Thursday.

@SamZurier Is it true that you are wavering on your support of the CSA making it contingent on the politically motivated AG

 

A Timeline Update!

Wow things are moving so fast!

On Monday April 10th we had a second public hearing.

On Monday April 17th the Ordinance Committee voted to have the CSA brought before City Council for a FULL vote.

On Thursday April 20th at 7pm the City Council will be voting on the CSA.

On Thursday April 27th at 530pm City Council will be voting on the CSA for the second time before it is brought to Mayor Elorza for signature.

There’s a lot going on. We are so determined to get this ordinance passed by the end of the month so please follow us on twitter @pvdcsa or on Facebook – Community Safety Act as we made quicker updates.

Updated CSA!

A huge thank you to organizations and businesses that have submitted their letters of supports. It is having a significant impact on City Councilors who are feeling that pressure. A shoutout to the Cambodian Society of Rhode Island, The Economic Progress Institute, the Providence Wholistic Health Care, and Representative Joseph S. Almeida for being among some of the first organizations and representatives to submit their letters.

There’s still time for your organization / business to submit their letter. Email vanessa@prysm.us for a sample but also make sure to CC her in the letter when submitted.

If you need the most recent updates made to the CSA, check out “Full Text of the CSA”.

URGENT- Organizational / Business Letters of Support Needed

The Community Safety Act is now in the Ordinance Committee and almost ready to move to the whole City Council!

Our allies on the City Council have said the rest of the Council really need to hear from more organizations to remind them that this is indeed a community ordinance broadly supported by the community.

We know you have supported the CSA, now is the moment we need you to show it. Please write and send a letter expressing your support, written on organizational letterhead. If you are not part of an organization, please get an organization or business to write a letter of support.  You will find a sample letter below for your use as you see fit. Try and include why the CSA is important to you and your constituents. Please send the letter by April 10th as we are having a 2nd Public Hearing on April 10th at 530pm.

Mail your letter to:
Providence City Council, City Hall, Room 310
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI  02903

You can also scan and email your letter to:  nfleming@providenceri.gov
Please cc vanessa@prysm.us so we can track how many letters have been sent!

In your email ask Nigel Fleming to please make copies and distribute to each Council Member.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Providence City Council Member,

On behalf of my organization, ___________, I am writing in support of the proposed city ordinance, the Community Safety Act.  We are grateful for the years of work and months of negotiation that have produced such an important ordinance.

As cities around the country have shown, finding ways to hold police, who are hired to serve and protect all the people of the city, to values and standards that reflect the whole city, it is important that there are ways of holding them accountable to those values and standards.

[include why the CSA is important to you and your constituents, for example these words on immigrants and youth]

In these troubling times it is all the more important that our city ordinances and policies protect the immigrants who live in our midst and protect our youth.  We are painfully aware that now simply being listed on a gang database can be the cause of a deportation.  There is no room for mistakes. 

We hope that you will support this important ordinance.

Thank you.
Sincerely,