Posted on January 25, 2018
Brooklyn Councilman Took on the Police. Next Up: The Governor.
No stranger to civil disobedience, Jumaane D. Williams, a Brooklyn councilman, is looking to disrupt what would have been a sleepy race to become Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's lieutenant. https://t.co/dsqcwcE2RS
— NYT Metro (@NYTMetro) January 22, 2018
It has been an eventful new year for Jumaane D. Williams. The newly re-elected Brooklyn councilman from Flatbush with an independent streak, first skipped out on voting for next speaker of the New York City Council. Then he was tossed over the hood of a car by a police officer during an immigration protest. Days later, he declared his interest in running for lieutenant governor — a frontal political assault on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a powerful fellow Democrat with a long memory. If these are not the normal doings of a typical public official, that is fine with Mr. Williams, who resists the label of politician. Now, to test the waters for a lieutenant governor run, Mr. Williams is planning to travel the state in the coming weeks. After a time on a local community board, as a tenant organizer and as executive director of New York State Tenants and Neighbors, a tenant advocacy group, Williams ran for what he believed would be an open Council seat in the Flatbush area of central Brooklyn in 2009. But the rules for term limits changed, giving the Democratic incumbent a third term and a shot at re-election. In his first term, Mr. Williams became one of the Council’s most prominent critics of the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics, co-sponsoring legislation with Councilman Brad Lander that created an inspector general for the police and expanded the prohibitions on profiling. The bills passed after midnight on a summer day in 2013, each with enough votes to survive a mayoral veto. Applause greeted their passage. For Mr. Williams, it was a signature moment and an example of the lifelong activist who sticks to principle while engaging in one of the most difficult of political tasks: shepherding contentious legislation over the vehement objections of City Hall. In the years since, crime has gone down, not up. “He took an unpopular stance because he knew it was right,” said Joo-Hyun Kang, the director of Communities United for Police Reform, an advocacy group that pushed for the legislation.