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The Civil Rights Committee is currently engaged in a campaign against Disorderly Conduct. The police use “Disorderly Conduct” to arrest or ticket homeless people – a key tool in the criminalization, profiling, and harassment of the homeless. We believe that the vagueness of Dis Con is unconstitutional, and that the NYPD should be required to specify one’s alleged violation. We demand that Dis Con be clearly recognized in practice as a non-arrestable offense.
We are currently gathering surveys and testimonies from homeless New Yorkers to build this campaign, and possibly file a lawsuit against the NYPD.
For additional information or to get involved, email Lynn Lewis.
The Civil Rights campaign also engages in Know Your Rights and CopWatch workshops. Our goal is to equip homeless New Yorkers with tools that they need to defend themselves and their community from harmful and unjust police abuses. Picture the Homeless serves on the steering committee of the Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), the campaign to end discriminatory policing in NYC.
2011 – Played a leadership role in the development of Bloombergville, training other participants in the first amendment right to sleep on the streets as a form of political protest, and provided security and police negotiation to the alliance of groups constituting Bloombergville.
2011 – Moved an emerging alliance of anti-police violence organizations to prioritize the ending of custodial arrests for Quality of Life Summonses, including Disorderly Conduct.
2011 – Liaised between a street homeless woman harassed by illegal use of the Disorderly Conduct statute by the NYPD and a PTH legal ally which resulted in a temporary restraining order issued in federal court on her behalf and an ordering of remedial training for police in Manhattan North.
2010 – Initiated a participatory action research project to document the impact of how the NYPD enforces the Disorderly Conduct Statute on homeless New Yorkers.
2010 – Drafted legislation to amend the Disorderly Conduct Statute and secured the commitment of a State legislator to introduce it as a bill.
2010 – Convened two roundtable discussions on the Disorderly Conduct Statute at the Center for Constitutional Rights with dozens of grass roots and legal allies attending.
2008 – Expanded Know Your Rights Legal Clinic to 125th Street and Lexington Avenue
2005 – Launched a Know Your Rights Legal Clinic at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
2005 – Created a legal resource directory and popular education materials around policing and legal issues impacting homeless New Yorkers.
2004 – Moved the Unlock the Block voting rights coalition to include the issues of barriers to voting for shelter residents and other homeless New Yorkers as a major campaign focus.
2004 – Won extended hours at the federal post office general delivery window which was slated to be closed during the RNC, and which would have prevented hundreds of homeless New Yorkers, including disabled and veterans, from receiving their mail.
2004 – Reversed a decision by the New York State Parole Board to ban parolees who live outside of Manhattan from entering Manhattan unless they could prove employment there, during the RNC.
2004 – Created a network of homeless organized safe havens in churches in midtown Manhattan for homeless New Yorkers during the RNC.
2004 – Created Operation Cardboard Box, which won several key concessions from the NYPD, and Republic National Convention organizers, and significant support from allies in the midtown Manhattan area slated for the RNC.
2003 to 2004 – Conducted dozens of workshops in soup kitchens and shelters, on Homeless Voting Rights and Civic Participation. We hired 7 members of our civil rights committee to develop curricula and conducted civic participation workshops in all 5 boroughs.
2003 – Won major victory against the NYPD in federal court, resulting in the issuance of a groundbreaking settlement agreement and policy directive against selective enforcement of the law.
2002 – First direct action against Bloomberg held on January 16th by Picture the Homeless, in response to his first public policy initiative, “zero tolerance for Quality of Life violations”.
2002 – Moved the New York Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit in Federal Court on behalf of Picture the Homeless, whose members were subject to arrest and harassment due to a shift in policing policies of the Bloomberg Administration.
2002 – Launched NYC Freedom Summer, a participatory action research project that surveyed over 500 homeless New Yorkers on selective enforcement of the law by the NYPD in Manhattan.
2001 – the present Engaged legal allies to serve in an advisory capacity to our civil rights campaign.
2001 – Created Homeless Civil Rights Legal Clinic in conjunction with NYC Police Watch of the Ella Baker Center.
1999 to Present – Moved the issues around Quality of Life Policing onto the agenda of the anti-police violence movement in NYC.