Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, shared the podium today with political heavyweights and women’s rights leaders, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem, to announce the opening of Manhattan’s new Family Justice Center.
The center will provide support and resources for victims of domestic abuse. Last month, Ms. McCray was appointed chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which has supported the five-year campaign to build the center on Centre Street in Lower Manhattan.
Speaking at the newly opened center, Ms. McCray emphasized the impact the facilities will have on victims of domestic abuse.
“Before the first Family Justice Center opened in 2005,” Ms. McCray said of New York’s first Justice Center, in Brooklyn, “it was a challenge to figure out where go and who to talk to. And addressing all of those questions required at least three separate meetings, at at least three separate locations. Setting up all those meetings and running all over the city with children in tow would be daunting; under most circumstances, it was downright impossible.”
With the opening of the new location, victim services will be consolidated under one roof. During a single appointment, visitors can now meet with an assistant district attorney to receive legal counseling on topics like child custody as well as protection orders and immigration issues, officials said. The center also offers job and skill training, resources for emergency housing, and a supervised play area for children and babies.
Comptroller Scott Stringer, who was also in attendance, praised the new mayor’s advocacy in pushing for expanded women’s services in the city.
“I’d like you to tell the mayor this tonight, if you have time to really thank him. Because when you have a new administration, you really have to see where the mayor’s commitment’s going to be on some of these issues,” Mr. Stringer told Ms. McCray. “And let’s face it: Mayor de Blasio, by hiring Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and hiring [Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner] Rose Pierre-Louis, has put the marker down.”
Other notable speakers included District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who said he made the Manhattan’s Family Justice Center a “top priority” during his 2009 campaign; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a longtime advocate for justice for domestic violence victims; and legendary women’s rights activist Ms. Steinem.
For her part, Ms. Steinem connected domestic violence to other crimes.
“Violence in the home normalizes violence everywhere else,” she said. “There could be nothing more important to all of us in this country than to interrupt and heal the cycles of domestic violence … Private terrorism becomes public terrorism.”