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Hochul passes package of voter laws, including for formerly incarcerated

Governor Kathy Hochul signed an ambitious legislative package into law last week centered around voting rights. These 10 new laws have safeguards for ballot access, electoral education, early voting, and voter protections for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.

“By safeguarding the integrity of our electoral process and ensuring equal access to the ballot box, we empower every New Yorker to have their voice heard,” said Hochul in a statement. “New York State remains committed to strengthening ou

New York City piles on composting efforts

New Yorkers never back down from a scrap, so composting is ramping up in the Big Apple. Cores of not-so-big apples and other food waste can be sorted and dropped off by the city’s orange “smart bins” to biodegrade, providing a greener alternative to incineration or landfills.

Permanent and compulsory curbside composting—mandated by one of five bills passed by city council in the “Zero Waste Act” bill package—arrives in Brooklyn next week. Bronx and Staten Island are up after next March and Manh

Red Balloon preschool being replaced by daycare

The half-century-old Red Balloon preschool officially closed doors this month after yearlong community pushback over Columbia University ending its no-cost lease.

But the Ivy League institution will keep the location rent-free for an early childhood learning center after a year of renovations. While it is unclear how much of Red Balloon’s identity will be retained by the new center, the university promises similarly affordable and culturally-competent childcare with comparable class sizes, oper

Fourth-gen Harlemite Jazz Reed remains true to uptown

There’s no Harlem without jazz, so fourth-generation Harlemite Jazz Reed represents her community wherever she goes. She’s stepped up to the task so far. At just age 26, Reed recently directed communications and constituent services for Harlem’s City Council District 9 and currently balances managing development and communications at the nonprofit Figure Skating In Harlem Inc. with running her own organization MoHo Dance.

And stepping up is what Reed does best. When her NYU Stern education didn

Daniel Prude’s birthday high lights mental health police responses

Daniel Prude would turn 45 this week. Instead, his birthday serves as an annual reminder for reforming the response to mental health-related crises. This Saturday, “Daniel’s Day” events throughout the state will renew efforts to replace police with unarmed medical professionals on most mental illness-based emergency calls.

Back in March 2020, Rochester police gagged and restrained an unclothed Prude in frigid weather due to an emergency call made due to a mental health episode. His head was cov

NYPD agrees to reforms after Black Lives Matter settlement

Freedom of assembly isn’t free. At least not for the NYPD, whose agreement to reform and curtail protest enforcement stems from settling lawsuits led by State Attorney General Letitia James, along with the NYCLU and the Legal Aid Society, over use-of-force tactics against 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrators. The settlement order was accepted and finalized by federal district judge Colleen McMahon last Thursday, Sept. 7.

“The right to peacefully assemble and protest is sacrosanct and foundatio

Mayor targets ‘Kia Boys’ in car theft crackdown

The age of bizarre and often dangerous social media challenges strikes again as Mayor Eric Adams announces that New York City has had enough of youth car thefts and joyrides targeting Kia and Hyundai owners. The trend has its roots in social media, and is inspired primarily by TikTok, Youtube, and Snapchat videos.

Adams and the NYPD have been grappling with the issue since last September, following national trends, and recently put out a comprehensive plan to decrease the surge of grand larceny

City turns to Airbnb listings to eliminate illegal short-term rentals

Disrupting the disruptor? New York City’s enforcement against illegal short-term rentals took its first major step last week on Sept. 5 by holding online booking sites like Airbnb responsible if listings were not registered with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE). Such platforms allow tourists to book homes and apartments from the city’s existing housing stock for stays similar to traditional hotels rather than a sublet or contractual lease.

“Registration creates a clear path for h

NYCLU releases state police use-of-force data

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) found state police engaged in 5,554 reported use-of-force instances between 2000–2020 through a recently published report stemming from public records obtained following a 2022 Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) lawsuit. Nearly a third of incidents occurred during traffic stops.

According to NYCLU legal fellow Ify Chikezie, the exact race of New Yorkers on the receiving end of these incidents isn’t known, but history clearly points to Black and brown pe

Rikers Island closure approaches four years from deadline

Advocates are quite literally counting on New York City to close Rikers Island. This past Thursday, Aug. 31—exactly four years before the shutdown’s 2027 deadline—they reminded Mayor Eric Adams of the city’s legal obligation as he continues to flirt with a “plan B” at a rally by City Hall.

“I hope that we are fully clear that this administration not only doesn’t want to close Rikers Island, I don’t think it ever had any intention to close Rikers Island,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “

Black firefighters remembered for 9/11 contributions

Author’s note: This article was originally published in 2022. Additional reporting by Tandy Lau this year reflects changes in the Vulcan Society.

This year marks 22 years since the September 11 tragedy that cut down New York City’s iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. About 3,000 people were killed during the terrorist attack when four planes were hijacked and flew two into the towers, and one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Al

NYPD Captain Janelle Sanders lived and died on 9/11

Never forget? Try impossible to forget, with recent reminders like the 2022 death of Harlemite Janelle Sanders. Inextricably tied to 9/11, she responded to the World Trade Center attacks just a year into her NYPD career in a literal trial-by-fire. Exactly 21 years later, on Sept. 11 of last year, Sanders died from a 9/11-related cancer first announced by her union, the NYPD Captains Endowment Association. She was 44.

The third of four children growing up in Harlem’s Polo Grounds Towers, Sanders

Seventh person held on Rikers dies this year

Donny Ubiera is the seventh person held on Rikers Island to die this year and the eighth to die in or immediately after NYC Department of Corrections (DOC) custody. The 33-year-old was found unresponsive in his cell at the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC) jail this past Tuesday, Aug. 22. He entered DOC custody this past March and his death is currently under investigation as of press time, according to a department spokesperson.

The Legal Aid Society said Ubiera was a client of the practice and c

As migrant shelters expand, so does scarcity mentality

Emergency migrant facilities are popping up all over town as the city now records more than 100,000 asylum seekers arriving in the Big Apple since southern border officials began chartering buses last year. Roughly 58,000 people remain in New York City currently.

Randall’s Island returned as a location housing migrants this week after another shelter was shuttered following opposition last year. Another site housing up to 1,000 adult men was erected outside Queens’ Creedmoor Psychiatric Center,

Tarik Sheppard appointed NYPD’s head spokesperson

From 125th Street to One Police Plaza: Deputy Inspector Tarik Sheppard, commanding officer of the 28th Precinct in Harlem, was sworn in as the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI) on Aug. 7. The position serves as the police department’s top media spokesperson.

“It’s rare to find the level of experience, creativity, and care that Deputy Commissioner Sheppard has consistently brought to the NYPD for the past two decades,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban in a statement. “I

Medicare changes banned by judge, city retirees win again

From temporary pause to full stop. New York Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank officially blocked the city of New York from removing its roughly 250,000 municipal retirees off their current healthcare plan and onto Aetna’s privatized Medicare Advantage, which the Adams administration inked a deal on this past March.

On June 5, Frank temporarily halted the switch. Last Friday on Aug. 11, he explicitly ordered “that the respondents are permanently enjoined from requiring any City retirees, and their

Federal judge plans to hear out Rikers receivership arguments

Rikers Island is legally-mandated to close by 2027. But before then, receivership—which temporarily wrests control over the embattled jail from the city—is now on the table as federal judge Laura Taylor Swain opened the door to arguments for the move this past Thursday, Aug. 10.

Before the key hearing, decarceration advocates marched from City Hall to Foley Square, outside from where the proceedings were held. Councilmember Lincoln Restler called Rikers Island a “stain” on the city and said May

Gaming console giveaway in Union Square devolves into chaos

An internet celebrity’s video game giveaway turned Manhattan’s Union Square into real-life Super Smash Bros as thousands broke into a riot last Friday, Aug. 4. Kai Cenat—who holds the record for most simultaneous subscriptions on video game streaming platform Twitch—was arrested and charged for first-degree rioting after allegedly organizing the viral event without a permit, said police.

“The park and streets were overrun by people,” said NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey. “It was disrupting both vehi

'Anti-Rat Day of Action’ comes to Harlem

Sorry Master Splinter. New York City’s first Anti-Rat Day of Action will be held this Saturday, Aug 12 in Harlem. The event takes place at 137th Street’s Elizabeth Langley Memorial Garden.

The event offers locals insight and strategies toward reducing rodent encounters by cutting the critters off from their food source. It is co-hosted by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration and the BUFNY II/Harlem Street Tenants Association.

“It’s still early, but these numbers show what we’re doing is working an

MTA combats fare evasion with AI surveillance

Stand clear for rising fares, please. MTA bus and subway ride prices are going uptown by 15 cents later this month: Each swipe will cost $2.90 starting Aug. 20. The current fare is $2.75.

For power riders, a physical seven-day Metrocard will cost a dollar more, pushing the price from $33 to $34. One Metro New York (OMNY) fare-capping will soon start from the first digital tap rather than on Monday midnights—rides will not be charged after the 12th ride (or $34 cumulatively spent) on the same co

Teen arrested and charged for hate crime murder of O’Shae Sibley

Seventeen-year-old Dmitriy Popov was arrested and charged this past Friday, Aug. 4, for the hate crime murder of professional dancer O’Shae Leon Sibley in Brooklyn two weeks ago.

Sibley was fatally stabbed in front of a Midwood gas station July 29 around 11 p.m. He was voguing—a competitive dance historically fashioned by queer Black and brown New Yorkers—to Beyonce’s “Renaissance” played from inside the car he and his friends were filling up before the incident. They were returning to the city

Harlem CBO's receive DA Bragg’s gun violence prevention grants

Eight of the 10 community-based organizations chosen to receive $20,000 each in gun violence prevention funding from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office currently serve Harlem.

“The focus here is just on engagement for the youth,” said D.A. Alvin Bragg. Projects include “everything [from] murals to youth engaging with food justice and environmental issues…The thought is ‘let’s engage them so they don’t turn to any form of gun.’”

The grant winners were announced this past Monday, July 31,

African migrants face extensive challenges

Author’s Note: The migrants interviewed are only identified by their first names in this story. Their interviews were conducted in French and translated by an ACT employee.

African Communities Together (ACT) greets visitors with a glass of water first thing after entering its Harlem Offices, followed by offers of coffee and tea. The organization—which connects African migrants to key legal, employment, and governmental services—hopes those who seek its help feel at home. But ACT’s Community Nav

Rikers Island 2023 death count doubles to six in deadly July

The recent deaths of two Black New Yorkers held on Rikers Island push the notorious jail complex’s death count this year to six, double since July started.

Curtis Davis, 44, was pronounced dead shortly after he was found unresponsive in his cell during the early morning this past Sunday, July 23. He entered NYC Department of Corrections (DOC) custody on June 1 and was held at the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC) jail.

“It’s still an investigation—we know that,” said Mayor Eric Adams on Monday. “
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