Â New York City Council Stated Meeting Report
Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting to introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Searchlight covers these meetings and posts a summary of the bills passed.
STATED MEETING - July 23, 2003
at City Hall
New York City Councilmember James E. Davis was shot and killed at 2:08
p.m. on July 23, the victim of a gunman who opened fire inside the City
Council chambers during the council's regularly scheduled meeting. Davis
was shot by a political rival, Othniel Askew, who accompanied the council
member to City Hall. Askew was shot by a plainclothes police officer and
Askew, 31, reportedly entered City Hall as a guest with Davis and was
able to bypass the metal detectors because he was with the council member.
Askew and Davis met earlier in the day in Brooklyn then proceeded to City
Hall, where Davis introduced Askew as a former rival turned friend. The
two men went to the balcony before the beginning of the council meeting,
according to police officials, Askew fired a 40-caliber handgun multiple
times, killing Davis. A police officer on the floor of the council chambers
then fired six shots at Askew, hitting him several times. Davis, a retired
police officer, carries a handgun, but did not draw or fire his gun.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was in his office at the time of the shooting,
Askew was planning on running for City Council against Davis this fall,
had filed with the city's Campaign Finance Board, and had reportedly circulated
petitions, but did not file them in time to get on the ballot. According
to reports, Askew phoned the New York City Federal Bureau of Investigation
office yesterday morning to report that Davis had been harassing him
in connection with the upcoming primary election.
James Davis, 41, who was elected to Brooklyn's 35th district council
seat in 2001, was a former police officer, and the chair of Stop the Violence,
a non-profit organization, which he founded in 1990. Davis also fought
against youth violence, child abuse, domestic violence and police brutality,
winning widespread media attention for his efforts. In 1994, he helped
stop the sale of "look-alike" toy guns following the shooting
of two children by police officers who mistook their toys for real weapons.
He also campaigned successfully to have MTV change its broadcasting policies,
that the network's former policies resulted in the broadcasting of excessively
violent images and lyrics during the daytime. A graduate of Pace University,
he also served as a Democratic district leader, working to register voters
in neglected communities.
In an essay
Davis wrote for Gotham Gazette, he recounted how he became politically
involved: "One morning in 1983, I was in front of my house sitting
in my mother's car. Suddenly, I was approached by two white police officers
who accused me of stealing the car. The officers dragged me from the car
at gunpoint, slammed my head and body repeatedly against the car and pointed
their guns inches away from my head. I was handcuffed and taken to the
police station. No charges were ever filed, but that day, I suffered not
only bruises, but also the humiliation of false arrest. Since that day,
have tried to turn that experience into something positive."
E. Davis message board
For an archive of past meetings and council votes, visit Gotham Gazette's Searchlight
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