Author Archives: Maki Isayama

This could be it — the tipping point.

One day, we may look back on this summer as the time when our nation resolved it would no longer tolerate racialized policing. The time when we took the first concrete action to change the way law enforcement agencies engage communities of color. When we reminisce, perhaps we will scratch our heads and wonder what took so long for us to even acknowledge the problem.

Many of us will be proud to say that we were there and helped do it. Together.

No matter what the coming days hold, let us never forget the lives lost to one of the most horrific manifestations of institutionalized racism. Dear Ally for Justice, step back and allow space for people affected by discriminatory policing to grasp and discuss the real possibility that they, too, could become a hashtag one day. Let’s listen openly and refrain from derailing these dialogues by centering other policy agendas.

Most importantly, let’s be mindful. Black Lives Matter is an affirmation of equality, not a demand for supremacy. This outcry is not preceded by an invisible “only,” nor does it exclude other, unspoken lives. If you’re tired of hearing and seeing Black Lives Matter, be thankful that your survival does not depend on this pledge becoming a reality.

  I N   M E M O R I A M  

Philando Castile, 32, had worked for the St. Paul, MN public school system since the age of 19. Recently promoted to a supervisory position in Nutrition Services, he was working as a cafeteria manager at the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School at the time of his murder.

The kids called him “Mr. Phil.” In the words of a co-worker, “Kids loved him. He was smart, overqualified, … quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.’”

On the news of his death, a parent wrote, “Every day he fist-bumped my kids, even when they were acting up. He knew every single [student] by name, pushed extra food in them like a grandma, and sneaked extra graham crackers into my son’s bag because [he] got a kick out of it. My borderline autistic son hugged him every day….This was a good man.”

Alton Sterling, 37, was raised by his aunt, Sandra Sterling, who called the large, jovial man a “generous giant.” The father of five children, he had his own struggles with law enforcement, but was respected, kind, and deeply loved by his family. At the time of his fatal encounter with police, he was living in a shelter run by a church group in Baton Rouge, LA and making his living selling music CDs. He was widely known as a “people person” and called “Big A” by his customers.

His cousin, Elliott Sterling, said, “If somebody asked for blues or country music, he’d know it all. He couldn’t make it in a regular job, but he could make it selling CDs. He could converse with everybody.”

An aunt, Regina Adams, remembered: “When he was little, I used to always tell him to go home. I wish I could tell him to go home now.”

TAKE THE #M4BL PLEDGE, and share widely to help end the systemic violence that visits Black communities every day.

GNYCfC SUPPORTS CAMPAIGN ZERO to end police violence in America by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability. Its ongoing review of police union contracts is available here.

#RememberOrlando on June 26.


For years, New York City’s Pride March has been a celebration of difference and community. At times, as after last year’s Supreme Court victory for Marriage Equality in Obergefell v.Hodges, it has been a joyful affirmation in a procession toward justice and universal rights.

This year, New Yorkers will march in solidarity with our 49 LGBTQ brothers and sisters, almost all Latino, who were slaughtered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12th. While recognizing the outrage of yet another deadly homage to America’s romance with violence and its tolerance for shamelessly lax gun laws, we will walk and dance in a processional of love, not hate.

Members of Greater NYC for Change will be marching with some of our most dedicated public representatives and advocacy organizations. We encourage you to join in. We will also join our friends at New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, allied this year with LGBT4GVP, and the Gender and Family Project. Staging locations for the march, which kicks off at 12 noon, can be found atNYC Pride.

#LoveNotHate #ForOrlando #InSolidarity


Demand Democracy New York

Today, 89% of New Yorkers say that corruption in Albany is a serious problem. Only 31% of eligible voters vote. It’s time to stand up and #Demand DemocracyNOW.

New Yorkers, like all Americans, are raised to believe in the fundamental right to vote and to have their vote represented in political decision-making. It’s the cornerstone of participatory democracy and representative government. Yet widespread voting irregularities in recent elections and low registration and turnout have illuminated how hard it is for New Yorkers to vote and to have their votes count.

Then there’s money, which effectively determines that the rich and powerful—the new “billionaire class”—count more in our political system than average New Yorkers.

Faced with our two legislative leaders in Albany sentenced to prison for corruption and voting irregularities that denied the right to vote to numerous qualified New Yorkers, a coalition of community, labor, faith, and advocacy organizations has put forward a plan to resolve the crisis of democracy in New York State.

Under the name “Demand Democracy,” the groups have united behind a platform of bold changes to voting, ethics, and campaign finance laws. If enacted, these changes would limit the influence of the wealthy over our government and break down barriers to voter participation. The coalition is insisting that Governor Cuomo and the Legislature act on these changes NOW, before the end of this year’s legislative session.

Here’s the platform:

  • Publicly funded elections, with small-donor contributions matched with public dollars to elevate the voices of everyday New Yorkers
  • Comprehensive campaign finance reform that limits big money and its influence over elections. Measures include closing the LLC loophole, lowering contribution limits for candidates and committees, and limiting transfers, while supporting the federal call to overturn Citizens United.
  • Modernization of voting to strengthen democracy through automatic registration, online registration and updating, and flexible voting opportunities, including early voting, to reduce the hurdles that prevent people from getting to the polls
  • Expansion and protection of voting rights by restoring the right to vote to some 40,000 New Yorkers currently on parole, investigating purges of voter rolls, and instituting support, training, and oversight by non-political, non-partisan boards of election
  • Meaningful ethics reform that restores faith in democracy. This entails eliminating pension benefits for convicted officials and creating a full-time legislature with strong conflict-of-interest rules, full disclosure of outside income, and bans on personal use of campaign funds.

In short, we’re demanding that voting be easy, that all votes count, and that politicians work for #allofus, not just the few.

You can find out more about this effort (including the names of the huge and growing coalition) at But here’s what you can do right away:

SIGN THE PETITION to #DemandDemocracy–then share!

WHAT:     NYC Kick-Off Press Event
WHEN:   Thursday, May 26, 11:00 AM
WHERE: Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street, NYC 10007

PARTICIPATE IN THE WEEK OF ACTION, June 6-13, with house parties, protests, rallies, forums, social media actions, and much more. Hit the streets! Watch the Demand Democracy website and Facebook for more information.

New York City has a housing emergency–and everyone knows it.

Record-high homelessness, vacancy decontrol, and scarce affordable housing units are only the most visible signs. According to the Citizen’s Budget Commission, one in five households in our city pays more than half its income in rent, with 94 percent of them low-income families. Over one million families struggle to grapple with stagnant wages and the rising cost of living.

Every June the affordability of over one million rent-regulated apartments is determined by nine individuals appointed to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB). The mandate of the RGB is to establish rent levels for one- and two-year leases that apply to all units subject to the city’s Rent Stabilization Law.

For years the RGB approved higher rent adjustments, despite evidence that increases in landlord income and decreases in operating costs didn’t warrant them. The data produced annually by the RGB staff pointed to 10 straight years in which landlord income outpaced expenses. It wasn’t until 2015, with a new board made up of members selected by Mayor de Blasio, that tenants saw a rent freeze and relief for working families.

This year the data is even more firmly on the side of tenants. The RGB staff has released its 2016 Price Index of Operating Costs (PIOC) report. Landlords spent 41.2 percent less on fuel, thanks to low fuel oil prices and a mild winter. (Natural gas and steam fell 31.6 and 31.2 percent respectively.) Tenant advocates argue that this drop should offset increases–all substantially below 10 percent–in taxes, labor costs, insurance, and other expenses carried by landlords.

Still, the Rent Stabilization Association–the landlord lobby–is already using media ad campaigns and other pressures to push for rent increases as high as 7 percent, despite the willingness to extend the freeze evident in the RGB’s preliminary vote.

Consider what’s at stake for New Yorkers if the landlord lobby succeeds.

What can you do? Come out and testify! Demand an outcome that won’t imperil millions of your fellow New Yorkers. The RGB is holding hearings in all five boroughs, and you can join tenant advocates and elected officials for an informational housing rights forum on the Upper East Side on Thursday, May 19th at 6pm. Click here to RSVP.


Let’s Make It Easier to Vote.

Last Tuesday, New Yorkers cast their votes in the Presidential primaries, as well as some special elections for Assembly and State Senate. And just as in years past, there were problems–so many that Comptroller Scott Stringer and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have opened investigations.

Problems at poll sites are nothing new, but New York is way behind many other states in enacting basic election reforms that could increase turnout and reduce errors. That’s why election reform advocates will be descending on Albany on May 3rd to implore legislators to pass a trio of laws:

  • Early Voting, so we have more than one day to cast ballots
  • The Voter Empowerment Act, to modernize our voter registration system so that everyone who wants to participate, can
  • The Voter Friendly Ballot Act, to create easier-to-read ballots

We New Yorkers like to think of our state as a progressive beacon, but the truth is we’re one of 27 states that do not have any form of early voting, and one of 20 states that require an excuse for absentee voting.

So what can we do?

  1. Sign the #VoteBetterNY petition.
  2. Follow NYCVotes on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
  3. Sign up to go to Albany on May 3rd and advocate for reform.

When only 30% of eligible voters show up to cast a ballot, that tells us there is something fundamentally wrong with our election system. We must do everything in our power to bring New York to the forefront of voter access and enfranchisement.

This is really important.

That’s why you’ll find volunteers from Greater NYC for Change and The New Latino Movement throughout the five boroughs this GOTV weekend, reminding you to vote on April 19. No matter whom you support, voting this election season is vital.

Mark your calendar now to vote in the Presidential Primary and Special Elections next Tuesday. If you’re not sure you’re registered or where to vote, go to the New York City Poll Site Locator​ or call 1.866.VOTE.NYC (1.866.868.3692) and find out today!

And don’t forget to sign up to call and door-knock to remind voters in NY-9 to vote for New York State Senate candidate Todd Kaminsky in the April 19 Special Election. Who better to replace the disgraced former Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, than a former federal prosecutor known for fighting corruption, upholding the rule of law, and supporting his constituents effectively as a distinguished local Assembly Member? Join us for good government—and to help turn our state senate blue!

Kaminsky Canvasses on GOTV Weekend: 
Saturday, April 16: With Greater NYC for Change. First 20 round-trip train tickets are free! Click to RSVP. The candidate will be present!

With Citizen Action of NY/TenantsPAC. RSVP to Darius Gordon, or Michael McKee,

Sunday, April 17: With the WFP. RSVP to Kenny Schaeffer at 917.442.6820 or kenny.schaeffer@gmail.
With CWA District 1. Click to RSVP.

Tuesday, April 19: Election Day volunteers needed ALL DAY. RSVP to any of the names listed above or to the campaign at

Phone Banks:
Wednesday, April 13: TONIGHT! 5:00 to 8:30 pm, WFP Headquarters, 1 Metrotech Center North, 11th floor, Brooklyn. Contact:

Thursday, April 14: 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Pro-Choice NY, 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor. Click to RSVP.

Monday, April 18: 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Pro-Choice NY, 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor. Click to RSVP.

Tuesday, April 19: 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Pro-Choice NY, 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor. Click to RSVP.

Friday April 15: 6:30 to 9:00 pm. Local 802 (American Federation of Musicians) at 322 West 48th St. Live jazz music and tickets starting at $25. The candidate will be present! RSVP here.