Communities rally for Hochul to prioritize signing crime victim compensation bill
By Spectrum News NY
Crime is an issue that's been at the top of the list of issues for many New Yorkers. The state is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to put an end to a rising tide of crime.
Residents at a rally in Buffalo on Wednesday advocated for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature on the Fair Access to Victim Compensation Act.
“From hospital bills to mental health counseling, temporary housing and burial expenses," said the policy director for Common Justice, Tanvier Peart, "this funding has helped many survivors and their loved ones get back on their feet and recover.”
The bill has already passed the New York State Assembly and Senate. It aims to break down barriers to funds and resources for survivors of a wide array of crimes. It has yet to make it to the governor's desk.
“So at Common Justice, we dug deep and one of the many things we found is that Black New Yorkers are most likely to experience violence," Peart said while addressing a crowd along Jefferson Avenue. "They weren't 17.5% less likely to receive victim compensation compared to their white applicants.”
“I am not here in my official capacity today," said Zeneta Everhart, whose son was shot but not killed in the tragedy. "I am here as a mother, a mother of a survivor and a victim of gun violence.”
Violent gun crimes aren't the only thing this bill would help people bounce back from, but it is a large part.
“My brother, who biologically is my cousin, was killed Jan. 5, 1998," said Kelly Galloway, speaking on behalf of her own experience and the work she now does with Mona's House. "[On] May 13 of this year, my 9-year-old nephew was also shot in Albany while sitting down for a haircut. And he needs the resources that he had. He needs the resources to heal.”
“So while I speak as a survivor of violence in our community, I'm also representing people who want to heal and want to change and who need healing," said Athenia Cyrus, who survived the Buffalo mass shooting. "We shouldn't be here asking for what we deserve as a human right.”
“The governor may hold off to a particular date, an anniversary of sorts, to say, ‘Hey, we're signing off on this,’ and relate it to a particular date in time or a particular incident that may have happened in the past," added Assemblyman for New York's 137th District in Rochester Demond Meeks. "However, I don't know exactly why she hasn't signed off on it yet. And I just think that this community support will help.”
The bill once delivered will have anywhere from 10 to 30 days to have action, or in this case, be signed into law. Otherwise, it would face a “pocket veto” and all of this must be wrapped up by the end of this year.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to the governor’s office, which says it will review the legislation.