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Mayor Eric Adams Presented With Social Justice Reform Recommendations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city's top civil rights activists are challenging Mayor Eric Adams' commitment to social justice reform.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Monday, they want everything from more public restrooms to a commission to investigate Rikers Island.

Web Extra: Read The Report (.pdf)

Surveillance video shows so-called "fight night" at Rikers. A gang leader taps two inmates to go at it. The video shows a shirtless man getting hyped up before entering the cell. It's just one of many problems at Rikers: There's overcrowding, staffing shortages, allegations of corruption, and on and on.

"Rikers is a mess," said Norman Seigel of New Yorkers for Social Justice.

Siegel, a civil rights attorney, demanded that Adams name a commission to investigate Rikers, modeled after the Knapp Commission of the early 1970s that investigated police corruption.

"It had such an impact on the city because it brought all the players together to testify under oath with a commission that was concerned about getting to the heart of the problem," Siegel said.

Siegel is one of a number of prominent social activists who worked on wide-ranging social justice recommendations that deal with everything from police reforms, climate change, food insecurity, heat complaints, and even enforcing the traffic laws for bicycles and electric scooter riders.

There are 81 separate recommendations in the report, and Siegel said he's already told the mayor what will happen if he doesn't pay attention to each and every one of them.

"We're all committed over the next four years to closely monitoring his administration as well as him," Siegel said. "And as he acknowledges, because I tell him all the time, you don't do the right thing, I'll sue you."

Recommendations for reforming the NYPD include:

  • A residency requirement for cops
  • Improving diversity among cops above the rank of captain
  • Formally abandoning broken windows policing that targets quality-of-life crimes
  • Appointing a task force to evaluate whether other agencies should perform functions now handled by the NYPD, including 911 mental health calls, traffic stops and street homeless complaints

The group also wants Adams to consider:

  • Reducing the population at Rikers by transferring some to community-based facilities and allowing others to go home with electronic ankle bracelets
  • Expanding the number of food vendor permits for those selling fresh fruit and vegetables in low-income areas
  • Offering tax incentives to create more health care facilities in low-income areas
  • Establishing a separate hotline for heat and water complaints
  • Enforcing traffic laws for those who ride bikes and scooters
  • Opening more public bathrooms

The mayor said he's going to evaluate each proposal. Kramer asked how long that would take.

"That's a great question. I have fires, COVID, all these things going on, but we will do it in expeditious fashion," Adams said.

Maybe it was the threat of being sued, but the mayor promised a response to each proposal.

Adams also signed an executive order sought by the group asserting freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It creates First Amendment monitors in every city agency.

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