Last year at this time, the halls of the state Capitol—particularly near the Senate Republicans’ conference room—were flooded with protesters pushing for same-sex marriage.
This year has been a bit quieter, to say the least. There haven’t been the hours-long, decibel-blasting rallies, at least not on a daily basis.
Today, however, may have been the exception.
A handful of downstate groups—including VOCAL-NY, the Center for NuLeadership, ColorOfChange, Long Island Progressive Coalition, and Bronx Community Clergy Coalition—organized a march through the Captiol earlier today. They stopped for a rally near the Million Dollar Staircase, just down the hall from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ office.
The topic? A bill to decriminalize possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana, which is backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Democrats.
“Dean Skelos, be a fellow, pass the bill,” the group chanted. Soon after, they were addressed by Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Bronx Democrat who served as the prime sponsor of the bill prior to 2011.
Specifically, the group took issue with the current law’s implications with New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy, which they said leads to “racist arrests” that target black and latino individuals. As it stands, it’s a misdemeanor charge to possess a small amount of pot in public view, but only a violation if it’s in private.
Here’s a taste of today’s march: