PROP presents the Second Annual
Citizen of the City Awards
Riverside Church June 6th
Doors open at 6pm. Sponsored by The Campaign to End the New Jim Crow.
This Year’s honorees are long time activists in the effort to bring diverse communities together and to create a safer, more livable and more inclusive city for all New Yorkers:
Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid
Reverend Pat Bumgardner
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New York City’s greatness lies in the many people from around the world who have come here over generations to make a new life and home. The diversity of cultures, the multiplicity of languages, the many religions, all make New York a global beacon. Discriminatory police practices affect everyone, poisoning the atmosphere in our city and isolating our diverse communities from one another. Violating the human rights and abridging the civil liberties of New Yorkers does not keep us safe. Targeting certain communities to abuse and stigmatize will not lead to security or a just society. as part of a movement and in collaboration with advocates from across the city, PROP works to document, expose and correct abusive police practices. Through these efforts, we seek to strengthen and support a community of activists aiming to achieve sweeping reforms in police policies. The Citizen of the City Award recognizes individuals who not only address these abuses among their own constituencies, but also recognize that harsh and unjust policing overlaps into, and inflicts serious harm on, other communities. By reaching out to identify with the struggles of others, each of our honorees continues to make a powerful statement on the need for solidarity in the pursuit of a more inclusive and livable city for all New Yorkers.
Listen to the voices of our honorees:
Alex Vitale recounts how the treatment of people who are homeless brought him to understanding the need for police reform.
“I’ve been working on police reform issues since the late 1980’s, starting with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. At that time the political backlash against homeless people started and I was asked to monitor the situation and provide whatever legal and political assistance we could muster. I’ve witnessed firsthand the abusive and discriminatory treatment that homeless people in both San Francisco and New York are subjected to. Since then I have believed strongly that we are all at risk when the police become a tool of political interests, whether it’s driving the homeless out of the public eye, suppressing protest activity, or waging a racially biased and ineffective war on drugs.”
Chi Mgbako has seen the effects of police abuse both in New York City and around the world.
“Much of my human rights work focuses on sex workers’ rights. An issue that receives scant public attention despite its entrenched global reality is rampant abuse of sex workers. Because of their criminalized and stigmatized status, sex workers throughout the world, including here in New York City, experience physical, sexual, verbal and economic abuse at the hands of police officers. I view police abuse as one of the primary manifestations of state-sponsored human rights violations. Intersectional movement building among diverse groups similarly affected by police abuse, including sex workers, LGBTQ youth, low income communities of color, and Muslim communities, is necessary, powerful, and beautiful. My students and I remain committed to working in solidarity with grassroots advocacy movements at home and abroad that seek to shine a light on police abuse and end it.”
Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid was raised in the South Bronx in the 1960’s during a period of social and racial tensions and the growing anti-war movement. These events served to give him an understanding of the need for police reform as a fundamental part of the social justice movement.
“Police reform issues epitomize the struggle for social justice in America. Race, class, and gender contradictions all come together in the arena of police abuse of power. Additionally, in the post 9-11 world, one must include Islam in that equation, as well as sexual orientation. Law enforcement has always had two faces when it comes to people of color, the poor, and the disenfranchised in this land. While one segment of the population, usually the while middle and upper classes, defends the actions of law enforcement as heroic, others feel the blunt end of the club, or are on the receiving end of bullets. To them – to us – cops are both good and bad, and bad cops are evil. None of us should rest until this inconsistency, inequality, and injustice is stopped.”
Reverend Pat Bumgardner approaches police reform from a global perspective and a belief in the strength of partnerships among marginalized people to achieve social change.
“I see police reform as part of a larger global justice issue. All around the globe people are targeted, detained, disappeared, sometimes tortured or executed simply because of who they are, how they look or how they present themselves. Here in New York City, this unjust focus has taken on the lens of racial profiling, particularly targeting young black men and boys. God made young black men just like God made old white lesbians like myself. I believe we are both here to help bring the world into right relationship. Targeting young people is a direct assault on all of our futures. The bottom line is that I want the world to be a safe place for all of us.”