New York City

Jumaane Williams arrested during rent regulation demonstration in Albany

“When I was running for public advocate, a lot of people asked if I would continue doing disobedience. And I said, ‘Certainly, if it makes sense.’”

June 4, 2019 Mary Frost
NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams tweeted this photo of himself being arrested outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Tuesday during a protest demanding the passage of a package of rent reforms. Photo courtesy of the Office of Jumaane Williams

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was arrested on Tuesday in the state capitol during a protest demanding the passage of a package of reforms to the state’s rent regulations before they expire on June 15.

Williams was fighting for universal rent control, among other tenant protections, during a HousingJustice4All protest outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. These laws, he said, would shield tenants across the state from frivolous eviction.

Landlords, however, say if the bills are passed, they will no longer be able to maintain their apartment stock.

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This is not the first time Williams has been arrested for a political act.

He was arrested in 2015 for the same political cause — a sit-in for rent control in front of the governor’s office.

He was also arrested in 2018 for protesting the detention by ICE of immigrant-rights activist Ravi Ragbir. He was arrested as well in 2018 for protesting President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and in 2010 for protesting Arizona’s immigration law.

In a press conference broadcasted on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon following his release, Williams said, “When I was running for public advocate, a lot of people asked if I would continue doing disobedience. And I said, ‘Certainly, if it makes sense.’”

Williams said he was proud to have joined the demonstrators from the tenants’ advocate group Housing Justice. “We want all these nine bills before June 15,” he said.


Williams said the governor should now be the focus of tenants’ rights efforts. “The governor said we couldn’t get housing justice over the past three years because of the Republican senators … The linchpin here is the governor. We know he announced for his fourth term. We know you can’t go forward until you take care of the tenants in the state of New York.”

He also gave kudos to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for her efforts on the package.

Cousins said in a release Tuesday afternoon, “Following a long discussion within the Senate Majority Conference, it is clear that we have support for all nine priority housing bills. We have 11 days remaining before current rent regulations expire, and we will use that time to advance this legislation. We have committed to providing New Yorkers with the strongest housing protections in state history.”


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