June 1, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Four Queens lawmakers pledged to donate thousands of dollars in campaign funds received from police groups to bail out protesters arrested demonstrating against the death of George Floyd.
Assembly Members Aravella Simotas and Catalina Cruz, State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Council Member Francisco Moya each donated contributions from police PACs to New York City organizations that are collecting money to bail out those protesters arrested.
Thousands of protesters marched across the five boroughs over the weekend after Floyd, a black man, was killed during an arrest by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Some interactions between the NYPD and protesters over the weekend turned violent. In one incident, a NYPD patrol car was seen driving into a crowd of protesters.
Several local officials condemned what they said was an excessive use of force by some officers and vowed to steer campaign contributions from police groups to bail funds for protesters.
Sen. Gianaris decried aggressive actions taken by NYPD officers during the protests. He called the incidents — such as an officer shoving a young woman to the ground — “heartbreaking and unacceptable.”
“What’s really disgusting is when people exercising their right to protest injustice get assaulted by the same officers who are supposed to protect that right,” he wrote on Twitter.
Gianaris vowed to donate all contributions he received from police PACs for his reelection to bail funds and mutual aid organizations.
Gianaris has taken at least $11,500 from police PACs, including the state and city police benevolent associations, according to campaign filings for the 2020 election cycle. He promised that he would no longer accept contributions from police PACs.
“I am donating all contributions received from police PACs for my re-election to bail funds and mutual aid organizations, and I will not accept them going forward,” he wrote on Twitter. “We need to call out injustice, but most of all we must act.”
Assembly Member Simotas also said she would allocate police PAC money to help get protesters out of jail. She plans to donate $5,350 from police-affiliated groups to the New York City bail fund and organizations “working to end mass incarceration,” she posted on Twitter.
Assembly Member Cruz followed suit and will donate the $1,000 her campaign received from law enforcement unions to a bail fund.
“I stand with our community, there won’t be peace until we all draw a clear line in the sand and fight for what’s right,” Cruz said. “All day every day.”
Council Member Moya tweeted a photo of a check for $1,000 written out to the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.
He received the money from a law enforcement PAC and said he will no longer accept law enforcement donations.
“We need real change, now,” Moya tweeted.
I’m donating the $1000 I received from law enforcement PAC to the @BKBailFund and will not be accepting law enforcement donations again.
We need real change, now. pic.twitter.com/0dwpLnieiJ
— Francisco Moya (@FranciscoMoyaNY) May 31, 2020
The redistribution of funds came after a Queens Democratic Socialists of America organizer, Aaron Fernando, put pressure on the politicians to return the funds on Twitter.
Fernando called Gianaris’ donation huge news and praised all the officials who used police PAC funds to bail out protesters.
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that New York politics have changed dramatically in the last 48 hours,” he wrote.
Fernando said his goal is to make law enforcement campaign contributions “as toxic as real estate money.”
“So you can’t even take a dime of cop money without getting a primary challenger — it should be that toxic,” he said.
Aside from the fact this officer shouldn’t do that to anyone without provocation, he skips over multiple white protestors to pepper spray the black man. He should be fired. https://t.co/Z3QJEtHNTX
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) May 31, 2020