June 2, 2014
NEW YORK—On Monday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered remarks at the National Action Network’s Fifth Annual Triumph Awards in Manhattan. Below are the remarks as prepared for delivery.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, my good friend, Reverend Sharpton. I wanted to be here tonight because I know how critical NAN’s work is. I wanted to be here with Reverend Sharpton—who is not only a great leader, but who’s been a great friend to me and Chirlane over the years. Let me also recognize Chairman Richardson, Attorney Michael Hardy, Janaye Ingram and Dominique Sharpton. And I wanted to congratulate your honorees—winners of the Fifth Annual Triumph Awards. Note that one of you is a mayor, like me. Steve Benjamin, from South Carolina, made history in 2010 as the first African-American elected to that position.
Friends, let us start by pausing for a moment to think of the 13 New Yorkers wounded in nine hours in the past weekend in gun violence, including the four people wounded at “old timers’ day” at Albany Houses, two of our teenagers tragically shot at the memorial for Tyquan Jamison—the teenager who was himself shot to death just blocks away in July of 2010. And to think of P.J. Avitto, the 6-year-old boy so tragically stabbed to death last night. He liked to dress up as his favorite superheroes—he dressed up as President Obama for “dress up day” at school. We can’t forget Mikayla Capers, the 7-year-old girl who was critically injured in the same stabbing. Our prayers are with their families tonight.
We must do everything we can to bring these wrongdoers to justice. Anyone who might have information should call NYPD Crime Stoppers, 1-800-577-TIPS.
To prevent crimes like this from happening again, my administration has been working hard to reduce crime—particularly in NYCHA developments. Specifically, we’re investing another $27 million in cameras, for 50 NYCHA developments across the City. We’re also installing new access controls, including intercoms and key fobs, to make buildings safer. And we have increased assignment of patrol cars and officers to NYCHA developments. Rest assured: we will keep stepping up our efforts—because New Yorkers in every part of our city must be safe.
In our fight to reduce violence, NAN has been a powerful ally. It has spoken out strongly against gun violence, in New York City and across the country, through campaigns like National Youth Day of Action Against Gun Violence in January, and initiatives this month, Gun Violence Awareness Month. Just this weekend, NAN Youth Move and Street Corner Resources had a Harlem “Lie-In,” which involves lying down in front of Apollo Theater to shine light on gun violence. And I know you are planning to do so much more.
I don’t have to persuade this crowd: If any group can make a difference on gun violence, it is NAN. It is each and every one of you. I know this, because I have seen the success you’ve had on so many important problems. Take the overuse of stop-and-frisk. NAN has campaigned for years against discriminatory policing, including the deeply moving Father’s Day March in March of 2012, when tens of thousands of New Yorkers marched silently down 5th Avenue to protest the misuse of this tactic. And NAN’s efforts got results.
Now, we’ve adopted new policies that do not discriminate based on race. Our police commissioner, Bill Bratton, is working tirelessly every day to repair the relationship between police and communities. We’ve recently settled a lawsuit against the policy, so victims of this police harassment could be compensated—at least partially—and go about their lives, knowing the dark days of racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk are over.
This reminds me of something anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
That’s exactly what you do every day. NAN changed our conversation on stop-and-frisk—and you have been driving change on so many other issues, from income inequality to affordable to paid sick leave. I know that despite the rough news in the last few days, you will prod us to great progress on gun violence.
Because that is what NAN and Reverend Sharpton do—stand up for what is right. You prod to action, and take others with you. You serve as our collective conscience.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?” That is the question NAN has always asked – and has pushed to make things right when they were not. Congratulations on your important work. And may you continue to be the conscience we need to make this city, country, world all they should be. Thank you.