Lander arrested at protest outside Golden’s office
Councilmember Brad Lander was among five people arrested at a protest outside the Bay Ridge office of state Sen. Martin Golden Friday morning.
Lander (D-Park Slope) had joined members of the group Families for Safe Streets for the latter part of a 24-hour vigil in front of Golden’s district office at 7408 Fifth Ave. to demand that the Republican lawmaker do more to push for legislation that would keep speed cameras in New York City school zones.
Many of the members of Families for Safe Streets have lost loved ones in car crashes involving speeding drivers.
A speed camera bill died when the state Legislature finished its session in June without taking action.
On Friday, Lander and the other protesters stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue, held hands, and blocked traffic, the New York Post reported.
The council member was taken into custody on charges of disorderly conduct and failure to disperse. He was issued two summonses, according to the Post.
“I don’t take civil disobedience lightly. But sometimes it is necessary to bring attention to grievous wrongs,” Lander said in a statement.
Lander added that he was taking part in the demonstration “to keep more kids from dying.”
Earlier this year, two children, Abigail Blumenstein and Joshua Lew, were struck and killed by a driver on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street.
The Bay Ridge protesters, many of whom had been outside Golden’s office since Thursday morning, are demanding that Golden (R-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) to return to Albany and use his influence in the Republican-led senate to push for a vote on a bill that would keep the speed cameras in place.
There are currently 140 cameras on New York City streets to catch speeding drivers. The cameras take picture of the vehicle’s license plate and the owner receives a summons in the mail.
But the cameras are there under a pilot program that was authorized by the state Legislature in 2013 and expires on July 25. If no action is taken, the cameras will be turned off.
Prior to the end of the legislative session, the Democratic-dominated state Assembly passed a bill to extend the program for another few years and double the number the number of cameras currently on streets.
The Republican-controlled state Senate did not act, however, leaving the issue in limbo until the next session begins next January unless they return to Albany for an emergency session.
The city would need the state’s permission to keep the cameras operating.
The bill that Lander and the other advocates are pushing for would keep the cameras in place until 2022 and would add additional cameras on the streets to bring the total to 290.
The cameras are an important deterrent to speeding because they hit drivers where it hurts, in the wallet, according to Lander and other safety advocates. The incidents of speeding dropped by 63 per cent at intersections where the cameras are located, Lander said.
The blockage came during the last hour of a 24-hour vigil organized by Amy Cohen, one of he founders of Families for Safe Streets. Cohen’s son Sammy Cohen Eckstein, 13, was killed by a speeding driver on Prospect Park West in 2013.
Cohen and other transportation safety advocates began their vigil at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
Lander has introduced a bill in the council called the Reckless Driver Accountability Act, which would boot the cars of drivers deemed to be dangerous.
“Regardless of what happens in Albany, I pledge to push for passage of the Reckless Driver Accountability Act,” Lander said.
“Clearly by emailing reporters, Councilman Lander has confirmed that his arrest was more about getting publicity and less about supporting speed cameras. The narrative here should not be about Brad Lander, but about the future of speed cameras in New York City. I am sure Councilman Lander knows that Senator Golden was a key vote for the legislation in 2013 that authorized the original 145 speed cameras for New York City. And I would imagine that Mr. Lander also knows that Senator Golden is co-sponsoring legislation that will double the number of speed cameras to 290,” said Golden spokesperson, John Quaglione.
“Senator Golden is strongly advocating for the Senate to return to Albany to approve this measure,” Quaglione added.
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