By Linda Nwoke, Journal Exclusive
As the borough’s first black prosecutor, Manhattan District Attorney Hon. Alvin Bragg is an experienced attorney with over twenty years of experience and is famous for the high-profile cases he supervised. As the state’s Chief Deputy Attorney General, he managed cases involving Harvey Weinstein, former President Trump’s administration, over census-related issues and other criminal charges against big organizations. Speaking on the People, Power & Politics Radio Show, DA Bragg promised, “I pledge to continue what we’ve been doing. Manhattan’s gun violence and homicides are down compared to last year. We will keep investing in our communities and promoting justice for all, including the historically marginalized. We’ve seen very encouraging results from the first nine months. Still, we know that there’s a lot more work to do, so we’ll keep pressing on.”
Listen to an interview with DA Alvin Bragg below:
The Meaning of “One Standard of Justice for All” Campaign Slogan
As the head of the country’s second largest District Attorney’s (DA) office, one of their focuses is reducing gun violence within the community through prevention. In alignment with his campaign slogan, the DA has a combined strategy of taking guns from the streets over the past nine months, funding or investing in youth programs, and enforcing accountability to achieve the set objective. “We talk about “one standard of justice and justice for all. We know in Manhattan that gun violence’s effects are born in our communities. And so, we’ve used the approach to get guns off our streets, and hold accountable people for trafficking guns into Manhattan from other parts of the country. Funding programs that work with youths at risk for gun violence, so we can prevent these situations from ever happening,” he reiterated. The Manhattan DA strongly believes in the ‘prevention’ of gun violence as he recalls personal experiences, “A lot of my thoughts about the system are born from my time, as a prosecutor, and early life experiences. I experienced a gun being pointed at me, shot at, and then knowing that we need that kind of accountability, for we can’t have that happening on our streets.” These reasons motivate the use of unconventional methods to get communities involved. “We reached out to some of our community partners and thought of creative ways of using the tools in our toolkit to get safety, fairness, and justice for all,” he said.
The Role of the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative
One of these methods is the grant awarding event organized by the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJI) event. Ten youth-related community-based groups, led by various leaders like the clergy, coaches, and mentors, were identified and awarded grants to support their programs.
“We got to hear from the young people, and so it’s research-based, and the people talked on behalf of the program. So, we’ve seen how our youth can respond to people who’ve had similar challenges that have emerged on the other side. And we are also looking down the road to make some investments in mental health because I think that’s a very significant issue that we need to focus on,” he added.
Over the years, immigrants have been demonized, especially during President Trump’s administration. Recently, the Texas State Governor, Gregory Abbott, exhibited deplorable behavior by sending many immigrants to New York and other states on buses. The ongoing inhumane treatment of immigrants has made them desperate for legalization while striving to survive and feed their families. These have exposed them to fraudulent schemes run by criminals who steal from them. In some cases, they are caught and sentenced to prison. The DA says it is one of the issues his office will be “invested in doing more of in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.”
Protecting Immigrants Against Fraud
Some ways the DA’s office addresses fraudulent immigration schemes range from raising awareness or outreach, enforcing accountability, and increasing knowledge about the process of seeking redress as a victim. “We need people thinking about engaging in fraud to know that we will hold them accountable and there are penalties. We also need people who may have been victims to call us and reach out on 212-335-3600.”
Red Flags on Immigration Fraud
Immigrants should be on guard, especially in schemes that ask for money upfront without performing services or when the offer appears too accurate. The DA says, “Maybe it’s life advice. Trust your gut. And if you’ve got a question, that’s what we’re here for, to help folks navigate. ” He recommends that people should do their research. “There’s a registration database. The New York State Court system has a database; you can punch someone’s name and see their professional status. We can help people walk through that if they call the hotline.” Furthermore, immigrants need to know that they should have no fear of their immigration status. They can come to the district attorney’s office because “We’re not going to ask about that because we are here to serve all New Yorkers.”
For non-union workers, especially the vulnerable, and victims of lack of workplace safety and wage theft have been reported. The cases where the employer is exploiting immigrants and sometimes controlling them because they may not have the necessary documents to remain in the country. have been reported for investigation. “And those who are paying people criminally low wages or no wages at all, those cases are critical to me. We are doing a lot of investigations now. Like the one that stole more than $1.7 million from workers on a public-school project.” He also shared that sometimes people are paid and asked to pay part of their salary back off the books. And so, your employer is reimbursing you and asking for some of it. He promised the prosecution of guilty employers who are not paying workers the proper wage. Additionally, violators of the law, those who falsify documents, engage in unemployment insurance fraud or worker’s compensation fraud.
Contact Details and Process for Restitution
For individuals who have been defrauded, DA Bragg explains that they can get restitution by contacting the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, where there are experts to assist them. They can start the process by visiting their website (www.Manhattanda.org) and calling the dedicated line, 212-335-3600. Furthermore, he also encouraged community members to reach out and share their thoughts on their expectations and concerns. For various victims, including workers, he says, “We’ve done a lot of work in the construction industry, and we are now branching out into other industries. Whatever the industry or the type of work is, if you feel defrauded or not paid a legal wage, then reach out, and our folks will work with you.” For community members, “I want to hear from them about their concerns, what is on their minds, what we can do better. I want to listen and work for you because we are public servants.” Thus, the Manhattan District Attorney pledges to continue enforcing gun laws holding people accountable and preventing gun violence, promoting workers’ wages and safety, and protecting immigrants from unscrupulous actors regarding immigration fraud.