Northern Dutchess NAACP has Historic Law Passed
On November 6th, legislation proposed by The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Northern Dutchess Branch, was unanimously sponsored and passed by the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council. The legislation struck down a 50-year-old ordinance making it unlawful to ride bicycles not registered with the police department.
For hundreds of years, Black people have had their free movement and modes of transportation restricted – by foot, horse, coach, train, trolley, streetcar, bicycle, bus, and automobile. It is no coincidence that these ordinances went into effect in Poughkeepsie in 1973, on the heels of the enormous wins of the civil rights movement and at the advent of the war on drugs; in fact, these bicycle registration ordinances went into effect less than six weeks after the notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws were signed into law.
In addition to the pretextual nature of such statutes, including controversial Stop & Frisk policies, laws that erect barriers to the free movement of citizens are a part of a concept known as arrested mobility. These can be traced back regionally to the Provincial NY Slave Codes of 1702. Such public policy was resurrected by the Jim Crow South after Reconstruction and was used specifically regarding bicycles by the Nazis in occupied territories, most notably the Netherlands.
Branch President Barrington R. Atkins said, “It is our duty to dismantle all systems of inequality. Legislative changes such as this send a message to lawmakers and law enforcement that the fight for civil rights is alive and well here in the City of Poughkeepsie. This is a small step toward decriminalizing the daily lives of people of color, and there will be more to come.”
Branch Vice President Robin Green, who also serves on the Criminal Justice Committee, believes that “While it was a proud moment for this great organization and the legislative effort led by our criminal Justice committee, let us not wait another 50 years for equity and social Justice to be realized for our most basic rights. I believe ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere,’ as MLK Jr. said. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Executive Committee member D. Jen Brown, Esq., added, “On Monday, 11/6/23, the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council spoke with one voice to remove a historically discriminatory restriction on the mobility of Poughkeepsie residents. Their vote is a step forward toward a stronger, more unified Poughkeepsie community.”
From Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts of 1955-56 to riding bicycles today in the City of Poughkeepsie, the NAACP is committed to achieving equity, political rights, and social inclusion by advancing policies and practices that expand human and civil rights, eliminate discrimination, and accelerate the well-being, education, and economic security of Black people and all persons of color.
The Northern Dutchess NAACP is committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities. Our work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. For more information, please contact the branch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by telephone at (845) 546- 1067, or on Facebook at fb.me/ndnaacp.