New York City Will Investigate ‘Fundamental’ Laws For ‘The Foundational Sin Of Racism’

(Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that he was forming a commission to “rethink” the city’s laws through the lens of racial justice.

Comparing it to South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, de Blasio said that the group’s primary goal would be to “examine the fundamental laws of New York City, the very basis of the governance of this city, and determine if those very laws themselves are either exacerbating institutional racism or helping us to cure it.” (RELATED: ‘A Sobering Impact’: Bill De Blasio Wants NYPD Knocking On Doors To Root Out Hateful Behavior)

Jennifer Jones Austin, head of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, will chair the committee — which she says will “do the most to end racism.”

“This group will change the world. Folks who have put their entire lifetimes into racial and social justice, it takes a group like that to objectively determine where structural and institutional racism exists and what we need to do about it,” de Blasio said.

The mayor went on to compare it to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa, saying it set the example he wanted to use as his own commission went about “recognizing the foundational sin of racism in this country, in this city.”

Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, anti-Asian racism advocate Chris Kui and Department of Probation Commissioner Ana Bermudez are among the other members of the commission, as is Lurie Daniel Favors, interim executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College.

“We need to do something transformational at this point in our history, something unprecedented,” de Blasio said. “This is unlike any approach you’ve ever seen in the history of New York City or, honestly, in any major city in America, any state in America. We’ve never had a model for actually addressing structural racism… formally apologizing for it.”