A Message From CIDNY On Recent Events

CIDNY grieves the loss of George Floyd and so many others who have died at the hands of racists, including police. We condemn the racist threat directed at Chris Cooper in Central Park. We condemn the day-to-day racist aggressions that are not caught on cell phones. These deaths and threats are painful, shameful, and all too frequent. And, they have deep roots in U.S. history.

Protests and civil disobedience in the fight for civil rights are part of CIDNY’s history and current practice. We are proud that our organization reflects that history, seeks to mirror the diversity of our community, and includes and supports the leadership of people with disabilities who are Black, Latino/a, and Asian-American in the community and on our Board and staff. Fighting for equal rights is fundamental to all the work we do.

Every day in our work we witness the impact of racism and ableism in the lives of the people we serve. We see education, employment, health, and housing disparities among people with disabilities based on race as well as disparities between people with disabilities and those with no disability. We seek each day to eradicate inequality through the work that we do. In this pandemic, we have pointed policymakers to the higher death rates in black communities and urged allocation of resources to reflect the higher need. We educate the public and policymakers about the double burden of racism and ableism.

We applaud and join with people who seek racial justice. We are grateful for the outpouring of statements made by our allies denouncing racism. We support efforts to dismantle the institutional racism that devastates our lives and communities. We need to work together to transform our society. We hear you and we offer our support.

Right to Know Act

The interactions that people with disabilities have with police are too often potentially dangerous​​​. If you are stopped by the police, it is important to know your rights. This blog post will explain the law and what your rights are when you are stopped by a police officer. It is the police officer’s job to protect you, but unfortunately, for people with disabilities, police do not always act in a way that respects your rights. The best thing you can do when you are stopped by the police is to stay calm and not get angry with the police officer. Below are some important things to remember if you are ever stopped by a police officer.


What You Need to Know:


The Right to Know Act has been in effect as of October 18, 2019, and applies to everyone living in New York City. You have rights, including:


  • Police officers must tell you who they are at the beginning of certain interactions by providing their name, rank, command, and shield number.
  • Police officers must have business cards that have this information. These business cards must tell you where you can comment or complain about an encounter with an officer and where you may request any body-worn camera footage of the interaction.
  • You may always ask a police officer for their business card but police officers are only required to offer the card in certain circumstances, such as during a frisk, searches of your person, property, vehicle, or home, or at sobriety checkpoints.
  • If a police officer does not have a warrant to search you, your vehicle or your home, they should not search you unless they get your permission. The only times a police officer can search you is if:
    The police officer asks for your permission.
    The police officer tells you that a search won’t be done without your permission and checks to make sure you understand what they have said.
    And you gave permission to be searched.
  • If English is not your preferred language or you are Deaf or hard of hearing, you have a right to ask for appropriate interpretation services.
  • Police officers should always let you know how you can view a copy of the recording from the officer’s body camera. You can file for a copy of the recording online.
  • If a police officer searches you without your permission, you should ask for their business card since this is a violation of your rights. Remember, they don’t have to ask for permission if they are arresting you or if they have a court summons.
    If you do not want to give permission for the police officer to search you, the best thing to say is: “I do not consent to this search.”
  • You are always allowed to ask “Am I free to leave?” if you are not being detained. The police officer should tell you that you are free to go.

**If you have any other questions about how you may be affected by the Know Your Rights Act, please reach out to us at 212-674-2300. **

Statement by plaintiffs in three civil rights lawsuits against the MTA about subway access plans in the 2020-2024 capital program

The MTA on Thursday identified 45 subway stations* it said it would make accessible to people with disabilities in the 2020-2024 capital program, with a promise of nearly two dozen more to come. That’s real progress. 

Unfortunately, the MTA has a decades-long record of missed deadlines, funding diversions and deficient maintenance when it comes to accessibility. We can’t let that happen again. The only guarantee that counts is a legally binding settlement of our civil rights lawsuits over subway accessibility. It’s time for the MTA and Gov. Cuomo, who controls the MTA, to make that happen so that all New Yorkers can be certain that subway elevators and ramps are truly coming their way. 

Our groups sued the MTA more than two years ago over the lack of access across the subway system, then sued again this year over the MTA’s long-standing violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by renovating stations without making them accessible. The MTA has refused to settle those two cases and a third, over the horrendous maintenance of subway elevators. If the MTA is serious about its commitment to accessibility, it needs to go beyond a press release or promises in a capital plan. 


*The MTA also identified three Staten Island Railway stations that it would make accessible. Fewer than 25% of subway stations are accessible now and only a third would be accessible after completion of the 2020-2024 plan, as proposed. 

For more information, contact (all listed are organizational or individual plaintiffs): 

Joe Rappaport, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, 646-284-1078 or jrappaport@bcid.org

Jess Powers, Center for Independence of the Disabled, 917-721-7699 or jpowers@cidny.org 

Brett Eisenberg, Bronx Independent Living Services, 718-515-2800 or brett@bils.org

Christina Curry, Harlem Independent Living Center, 917-828-5500 (text only) or curry.hilc@gmail.com 

Jean Ryan, Disabled In Action, 917-658-0760 or pansies007@gmail.com

Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, sasha.blairgoldensohn@gmail.com