This morning The New Agenda issued the following open letter to the members of the New York State Senate.
March 26, 2009
Open Letter to NY State Senators Regarding the Indictment of Hiram Monserrate
Honorable members of the New York Senate, men and women, Republicans and Democrats elected to serve the people of the great state of New York.
The public’s trust, the safety of our citizens, the leadership of this state are in grave jeopardy. We implore you to take immediate and decisive action in asking that Sen. Hiram Monserrate step down.
The New Agenda is a national, non-partisan women’s rights group. The New Agenda and its members are troubled by the fact that Hiram Monserrate has been indicted on three counts of second-degree felony assault and three counts of third-degree misdemeanor assault, yet he continues to serve as a New York State Senator.
We applaud New York State Senators Catharine Young and Elizabeth O’C. Little for issuing a statement on March 23, 2009 in which they expressed disappointment at New York State Senator Malcolm Smith’s decision to take no action after Hiram Monserrate was indicted.
A March 23 press release reflecting the voices of The New Agenda and NOW-NYS demanded that Hiram Monserrate step down immediately. Now we call on the remaining 60 New York State Senators to speak out on this important issue.
The New Agenda believes this issue is an urgent national crisis and calls on Valerie Jarrett, who has taken on an important leadership role for the women of this country, to speak out about Hiram Monserrate. In introducing Ms. Jarrett in her role as Chair of the newly established White House Council on Women and Girls, President Obama cited domestic violence as a main concern that the Council would focus on.
What lesson are we teaching our children if we allow an individual indicted of felony assault to continue in a position of leadership? Is this the type of individual that we want our children to see as a role model?
Monserrate’s indictment comes on the heels of Chris Brown’s alleged abuse of Rihanna and the Buffalo, New York murder of Aasiya Hassan, who was beheaded by her husband. How many more women need to be abused and murdered at the hands of intimate partners before our country wakes up to the national crisis that is violence against women?
According to the Human Rights Watch organization, the projected number of domestic violence incidents against women increased by 42 percent between 2005 and 2007. According to a study conducted by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, 55 percent of New York women murdered in 2007 were victims of domestic violence. Also, due to the current recession, many domestic abuse shelters are now reporting a 20-25 percent increase in hotline calls.
If Smith and other legislators think this is going by unnoticed, they are sorely mistaken. To allow Monserrate to continue as state senator despite being indicted of felony assault will cost them far more than their Senate majority: it will cost them their credibility, and it will leave New York’s citizens with lawmakers who gave up their moral authority to legislate and lead.
Please do the right thing for our state and demand that Sen. Monserrate remove himself from office.
The New Agenda