STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Hundreds of Latino and African-American members of Make the Road New York, New York’s largest grassroots immigrant organization, held a vigil at the site of Eric Garner’s death Sunday night to show their support for the Right to Know Act.
At around 5 p.m., police barricaded Bay Street between Victory Boulevard and Minthorne Street, where school buses dropped off passengers of all ages from around the city to rally for the passage of a bill that would require written or audio consent for police searches without a warrant.
“Who is the officer that is stopping me?” Jose Lopez, organizing director for the Make the Road New York event, announced to the crowd. “And what are you stopping me for?
“I have the right to know.”
The proposal, co-sponsored by Councilwoman Debi Rose, would require written or audio permission from people for searches when police don’t have a warrant, aren’t making an arrest or don’t have probable cause.
By law, suspects already have a right to refuse searches in those cases, but the proposed law would compel police to notify them of that right.
Searches of persons, cars, homes or belongings would be covered under the law.
“If the police officer does not have a warrant, does not have a legal standard to keep his or her hands in my pockets … then keep your hands out of my pockets,” Lopez added.
Adilka Pimentel, youth organizer at Make the Road New York, said she and her group came to Staten Island to get justice for the Garner family by pushing the Right to Know Act through City Council.
“We’re looking for more change,” Pimentel said. “We want to try and repair relationships between communities and police — and that involves police reform.”
The consent to search bill currently has 30 sponsors, including Councilwoman Rose, and was heard by the public safety committee in late June.
Supporters said the law is necessary because people were unknowingly consenting to searches — which disproportionately affect minorities.
Garner’s father, Benjamin Carr, spoke briefly during the vigil, saying how grateful he was for the crowd’s support and dedication to improving police encounters.
“Through events like these, Eric’s memory lives on,” Carr said.
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