Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
'Jaywalking'

More Pols — And The Mayor, Too — Demand Answers from NYPD on ‘Jaywalking While Black’

Six against the NYPD (clockwise from top left): Donovan Richards, Rafael Salamanca, Andrew Cohen, Brad Lander, Diana Ayala and Vanessa Gibson.

City & State NY is hosting a full day New York in Transit summit on Jan. 30 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This summit will bring together experts to assess the current state of New York’s transportation systems, break down recent legislative actions, and look towards the future of all things coming and going in New York. Join Keynote Speaker Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation, along with agency leaders, elected officials, and advocates. Use the code STREETSBLOG for a 25-percent discount when you RSVP here!

Six more members of the City Council — and now Mayor de Blasio himself! — are demanding answers from NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea about his officers' "racial disparities in the enforcement of jaywalking," after Streetsblog's investigation into summonses for illegal walking revealed that recipients of the tickets are always black or Hispanic.

The six Council Members — Public Safety Committee Chairman Donovan Richards, plus Bronx members Diana Ayala, Andrew Cohen, Vanessa Gibson and Rafael Salamanca and Brooklyn member Brad Lander — sent a letter to Shea demanding to know why 89.5 percent of the 397 tickets issued for illegal crossing, or what the NYPD and the automobile industry calls "jaywalking," were issued to blacks and Hispanics.

The letter also noted that roughly 40 percent of the "jaywalking" tickets were issued in three Bronx precincts with high populations of blacks and Hispanics. As such, the council members demanded that Shea turn over internal records as to why pedestrians in those "majority minority" neighborhoods are being targeted.

"We ask for you to send the Council data on the specific streets and intersections of where these summonses were issued so we can have a better understanding of the justification for this type of enforcement, particularly in the 42nd, 76th, 44th, 40th, and 52nd Precincts, where the majority of jaywalking summonses were issued last year," the six lawmakers wrote.

The NYPD has said that summonses for illegal road crossing are a part of the agency's larger Vision Zero mandate, but the council members called on Shea to get specific.

"We would like to know how often jaywalking has been proven to result in pedestrian injuries and fatalities, the communities that the injuries and fatalities happen in most often, the demographics of the people injured or killed, and how often the NYPD reports these incidents and offenses," the group said.

An NYPD spokesman had told Streetsblog earlier this week that there is no systematic effort to harass blacks and Hispanics, but the council members' letter suggests that it doesn't matter if the enforcement is intentional or not.

"Regardless of how sincere the effort is to bridge the gap between communities and law enforcement through neighborhood-policing, targeting black and brown New Yorkers for committing the lowest of offenses that every New Yorker does from time to time will only lead to greater divisions," the group said.

The letter follows a promise made this week by Council Speaker Corey Johnson to get to the bottom of the issue. The mayor, who runs the NYPD but was apparently unaware of its enforcement of dangerous walking until he was asked about it at an unrelated press conference on Tuesday, approved of the council's effort.

"We’re going to work on any time a question of disparity comes up. I want to see it addressed," the mayor said. "[We must] ensure that policing is fair across all communities. It doesn't mean that there isn't a place for a jaywalking ticket, in this world we got to figure out with real challenges with busier and busier streets how we use enforcement for everyone the right way. But it has to be fair so, I think if the council is trying to ensure that it’s fair I commend them, and we’ll work with them.”

The NYPD did not respond.

— With Julianne Cuba

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Brooklyn Civic Panel Can’t Agree How to Solve NYPD Sidewalk Parking

Move the illegal sidewalk parking or denounce it altogether?

April 17, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines: Bike Lane Delay Edition

Remember the proposed sidewalk bike lane on Ocean Avenue? So do we. Plus other news in today's media digest.

April 17, 2024

Landmarks Officials OK Delivery Worker Hub Outside City Hall

The sleek new delivery hub and charging station will replace a 1980s-era newsstand that's sat empty since the pandemic.

April 17, 2024

Ten-Year-Old Fatally Struck By Driver Near South Williamsburg Playground

The 62-year-old driver struck and killed the youngster at the intersection of Wallabout Street and Wythe Avenue.

April 16, 2024

Car Crashes by City Workers Cost Taxpayers $180M in Payouts Last Year: Report

A record number of victims of crashes involving city employees in city-owned cars filed claims in fiscal year 2023 — and settlements with victims have jumped 23 percent, a new report shows.

April 16, 2024
See all posts