Join an informed campaign to end police violence. 


Americans have watched the Black Lives Matter movement unfold in response to cases of police violence and unequal justice outcomes across the nation. As the movement gains prominence, some voices have questioned its motives, demanding that its purpose be made clear. Now a number of activists, working with the Center for Popular Democracy and President Obama’s DoJ Task Force on 21st Century Policing, have released a set of clear and detailed policy goals.

Their findings help us grasp the extent of the problem: out of 1,100 deaths by police hands in 2014, a large majority were of unarmed citizens. Many occurred during stops for minor offenses or routine traffic violations. Far too many were of people in need of mental health resources. While unnecessary police violence undermines all our civil liberties, this violence falls disproportionately on black Americans, who already bear the overwhelming, daily force of the historical racism embedded in our nation.

In addition to policy recommendations, Campaign Zero provides guidance on implementing change at the local, state, and federal level, while encouraging feedback and suggestions. The Campaign is also tracking presidential candidates to determine who’s listening.

We applaud the activists’ coordinated, data-driven approach, endorse the policy recommendations below, and commit to advocating for implementation here in New York City. You can, too. More detailed information can be found at Campaign Zero.

End “Broken Windows”
  • End Policing of Minor “Broken Windows” Offenses
  • End Profiling and “Stop-and-Frisk”
  • Establish Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Crises
Community Oversight
  • Establish effective civilian oversight structures
  • Remove barriers to reporting police misconduct
Limit Use of Force
  • Establish standards and reporting of police use of deadly force
  • End traffic-related police killings and dangerous high-speed police chases
  • Revise and strengthen local police department use of force policies
  • Monitor how police use force and proactively hold officers accountable for excessive force
Independently Investigate & Prosecute
  • Lower the standard of proof for Department of Justice civil rights investigations of police officers
  • Use federal funds to encourage independent investigations and prosecutions
  • Establish a permanent Special Prosecutor’s Office at the State level for cases of police violence
  • Require independent investigations of all cases where police kill or seriously injure civilians
Community Representation
  • Increase the number of police officers who reflect the communities they serve
  • Use community feedback to inform police department policies and practices
Body Cameras
  • Body cameras
  • The Right to Record Police
  • Invest in Rigorous and Sustained Training
  • Intentionally consider ‘unconscious’ or ‘implicit’ racial bias
End For-Profit Policing
  • End police department quotas for tickets and arrests
  • Limit fines and fees for low-income people
  • Prevent police from taking the money or property of innocent people
  • End the Federal Government’s 1033 Program Providing Military Weaponry to Local Police Departments
  • Establish Local Restrictions to Prevent Police Departments from Purchasing or Using Military Weaponry

*Policy solutions graphic courtesy of Campaign Zero

On Endorsements and Priorities

As we move toward the 2016 presidential election, we’re often asked to commit to candidates and engage in campaigns. We think it’s important to state our position:

Greater NYC for Change is an issue-based, grassroots organization focused on promoting everyday social and political change. While we have always supported candidates who share our commitment to progressive change, we do not issue formal endorsements, nor do we actively engage in primary elections. Individual members of our organization are, of course, able to support candidates of their choice, but such support should not be seen as representative of the organization as a whole.

We look forward to a robust debate of ideas that will sharpen positions and produce more effective national candidates in 2016.

Meanwhile, we’ll be working at city and state levels on the issues that matter to us:
  • The Fight for $15 and a union. A real living wage.
  • Reducing income inequality.
  • Ending the influence of accumulated power and wealth in elections.
  • Concrete solutions to a looming climate crisis.
  • Full funding for public eduction.
  • Affordable and supportive housing.
  • Passing GENDA and insuring statewide rights for trans people.
  • Campaign Zero.
  • Prison reform- and clemency for the many who deserve a second chance.
  • Recognizing and dismantling our nation’s systemic racism. #BlackLivesMatter.

Our Letter to Sen. Schumer

The following letter was sent to the senior senator from New York. It represents the view of the Board of Directors that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement that will be voted on by the US Congress next month represents our best hope for a non-nuclear Iran and international security:

Dear Senator Schumer:

Greater New York City for Change, a volunteer advocacy organization with a reach of more than 7,000, asks you to reconsider your vote on the Iran agreement. We need to support our President’s efforts to keep Americans safe, and work within the international community. This agreement will help to do that.

It is not a perfect agreement, but what is the alternative? If the deal falls through, Iran could easily have more than 25,000 centrifuges and a nuclear weapon within one year. Who, then, will be safer? While the Iranian government is currently a sponsor of terrorism, how much more dangerous will it be as a terrorist sponsor with nuclear weapons? Yes, we are only guaranteed ten years during which Iran will not have a nuclear weapon, but that is ten more years than we will have without the agreement. That is why five former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel, numerous scientists, and countless international non-proliferation experts support the accord. They recognize that what we need is results, not posturing; diplomacy backed by verification, not saber-rattling.

As Nicholas Kristof wrote in his New York Times column on July 30th, the agreement is also about the possibility that Iran will turn away from its failed experiment with extremism. Who will be in charge in ten years? We could be dealing with entirely new leadership, endorsed by Iran’s Western-leaning, democracy-supporting youth, and a changed world. No one can predict the future accurately, but let’s give this deal and active engagement a try, rather than reject it and therefore encourage Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon that will further threaten both the region and the international community.

Please vote to give diplomacy a chance. 

The Board of Directors
Greater NYC for Change

Freedom’s True Price: The need for bail reform now.

In 2010, then 16-year-old Kalief Browder was accused of stealing a backpack. Because he could not pay bail, he languished in Riker’s Island for over three years of pre-trial detainment, subjected to punishing verbal and physical abuse and 400 days in solitary confinement. Then charges were dismissed, and Browder returned home. But, haunted by the trauma of his imprisonment–time served without a fair trial or conviction by a jury of his peers–he took his own life in June 2015, at the age of 22.

Kalief Browder was not the first, nor will he be the last, victim of a system that undermines the basic principle of “innocent until proven guilty” and questions the fairness we demand as a right from our criminal justice system.

Each year, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are locked behind bars for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. A closer look reveals that their incarceration does not result from a guilty verdict, but rather from a bail system designed with little thought for the havoc it wreaks on low-income families. Cells overflow with inmates who remain locked up because they lack the money to pay an arbitrary cash bail. Almost 40% of the Rikers population is there because of an outdated method of deterring flight risks. Men and women lose their homes, jobs, families, and basic civil liberties because of the size of their bank accounts.

At a June 17th hearing exploring our current bail system, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued these, among other findings, to the NYC Council Committee on Courts and Legal Services:

  • A September 2011 New York City Criminal Justice Agency Research Brief found that the difference in rates of court appearances for people held on cash bail and people released on their own recognizance is insignificant, reducing the argument for bail requirements altogether.
  • Cash bail discriminates along economic and racial divides. 87% of people offered bail of $1000 or less cannot afford it. Almost one-third of people offered bail of $500 or less cannot pay. Along those lines, almost 90% of those given bail instead of release are people of color.
  • The cost to taxpayers for this debunked system is immense. A May 2015 study by the Vera Institute of Justice calculates the cost of incarcerating inmates at Rikers at $571 per inmate per day. The New York City Independent Budget Office estimated the cost of holding people who are unable to afford bail at approximately $125 million per year.

The groundswell of support for reforms has led to tangible results on the local level, as entities like The Bronx Freedom FundBrooklyn Community Bail Fund, and the New York City Council have set in motion alternative mechanisms to cover bail for eligible individuals. Mayor de Blasio has championed change by announcing a $17.8 million plan allowing 3,000 more New Yorkers to await trial under home supervision instead of paying bail, hence avoiding pre-trial detention for non-violent offenders.

But state legislative action is required to permanently overhaul this unjust, for-profit system. We must again put pressure on Governor Cuomo to take up reforms first presented by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in his 2013 Annual State of the Judiciary and further refined by the Pretrial Justice Institute, which has started a petition calling on the Governor to eliminate cash bail for all New Yorkers.

We urge you to sign the petition and contact your state representatives to show them that this priority deserves their attention. You can review NYCLU’s positions HERE.

Stay tuned. And thank you for your continued willingness to stand up and be counted on issues of fundamental fairness and justice.ABC_kalief_browder_jt_150609_16x9_992

LGBT Landmarks!

This year, we celebrate the recent designation of the Stonewall Inn as a New York City landmark. We also celebrate with the country the Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v. Hodges, which has opened the doors for full marriage equality across the nation.

In defending his marriage to his late husband, John Arthur, Jim Obergefell is a civil rights hero, a fighter for all of our equal rights. While we welcome this landmark victory on marriage equality, let’s remember that our struggle will not be over until our transgender brothers and sisters, who face legal discrimination and violence, have equal rights and protections under the law.

Let’s also reflect on the origins of NYC’s Annual Pride March: the now-famous uprising against routine police brutality against gays, lesbians, and transgender people. Today, in the face of unjust law enforcement, unequal justice, and often fatal, racialized police violence across the country, we recognize that the rights we now enjoy were first fought for by people who resisted, and brought to light, excessive force and illegal arrests.

Jim Obergefell and John Arthur on July 11, 2013, as they flew from Cincinnati to Baltimore to be legally wed. Their native Ohio still has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The ceremony took place on the plane, due to John's limited mobility. Jim filed suit to have their marriage recognized in Ohio. John died of ALS on October 22, 2013.

Jim Obergefell and John Arthur on July 11, 2013, as they flew from Cincinnati to Baltimore to be legally wed. Their native Ohio had a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The ceremony took place on the plane, due to John’s limited mobility. Jim filed suit to have their marriage recognized in Ohio. John died of ALS on October 22, 2013.


No critically ill patient in New York State should suffer needlessly from lack of medical access.

This Tuesday, April 28th will mark the 298th day since New York’s medical marijuana bill was signed into law. But not one patient has yet received medication.  

That’s wrong–and dangerous, too, since many people, including children with violent seizures, are dying or suffering without the medical aid a simple plant now safely and legally available can provide.

We’re asking you to join Greater NYC for Change and our colleagues inCompassionate Care NY in demanding emergency access to medical marijuana this Tuesday, April 28th. CCNY is a statewide group of patients, providers, and organizations working together to relieve the suffering of thousands of seriously ill New Yorkers by establishing a carefully regulated medical marijuana program in New York. While that program is developed and implemented, we need your help. 

Here’s what you can do this Tuesday:

In New York City: Call the State Legislature in Support of Emergency Medical Marijuana Access! Tell leadership and your local state representatives that New Yorkers suffering from life-threatening or terminal illness shouldn’t have to wait until the full medical marijuana program is implemented. Call the legislators below–and then tell your friends and family members to do the same.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (518) 474-8390
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (518) 455-3171
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (518) 455-4800
Chair of Senate Health Committee Kemp Hannon (518) 455-2200
Your local state senator and assembly member

In Albany: Take Part in Advocacy Day and a Press Conference in Support of Emergency Medical Marijuana Access at the State Capitol, 10 AM – 4 PM! Lawmakers in Albany need to hear from New Yorkers who care about medical marijuana. Join in a press conference and meetings with legislators to explain the urgent need for emergency access for critically ill patients and to voice your concerns with the limitations of the medical marijuana program being implemented by the Cuomo Administration. Experienced advocates will show the ropes to those new to advocacy. RSVP to VOCAL-NY Statewide Community Organizer (and GNYCFC Advisory Board member) Anna Saini.

Your calls take only minutes. Stand up for New Yorkers in need now!