City Councilman Jumaane Williams has a message for the federal government.
Last week, the Brooklyn Democrat introduced a resolution in the Council that calls on Congress to restore federal funding to ACORN, the beleaguered housing advocacy group that shuttered most of its organization after the House passed a resolution blocking federal funds last year.
Williams wants Congress to adhere to a federal district court decision that deemed the federal action against ACORN unconstitutional. The ruling, made in December in New York’s Eastern District, is being appealed.
“This is kind of unprecedented,” Williams, a former housing activist, said. “No time in history has Congress just repealed funding based on simple accusations. There was no trial, no official charges; nothing.”
He’s optimistic about the resolution’s chances. “I feel good, I feel like it can pass,” he said. “There are some people who automatically will sign on to it.” He declined to give names but said that New York City should take a firm stand in support of ACORN, which he said has kept housing affordable in neighborhoods such as Flatbush Gardens, where he grew up. “I personally love the work ACORN did in my community.”
Prejudice, Williams said, has motivated attacks against ACORN.
“They do work for a lot of communities of color. I think that’s exactly the reason they were attacked for this. They were set up,” he said, referring to the video released in September in which two activists posing as a pimp and prostitute solicited law-breaking advice from ACORN officials.
“I always think race and economics play a part in all of what we do,” Williams said. “The more melanin you have in your skin and the poorer you are, the more worse off you’re going to be. It’s systemic and it’s systematic.”