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NY1 Profile: Davis Was Outspoken Against Urban Violence

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NY1’s Cheryl Wills takes a look back at the life and career of Brooklyn City Councilman James Davis, who was shot and killed Wednesday at City Hall.

Brooklyn Councilman James E. Davis was one of the City Council’s most outspoken advocates of nonviolence.

His claim to fame was the creation of the group, “Love Yourself: Stop the Violence,” a nonprofit group dedicated to ending the violence in urban areas like the communities he represented in Brooklyn.

“Street violence is wrong,” he said in 1991. “We're not going to tolerate any violence of that nature.”

The 41-year-old councilman won the seat in November of 2001. Davis emerged as an outspoken Council member, unafraid to speak out against the majority. He voted against the property tax hike and threatened to sue Speaker Gifford Miller for punishing him after Miller took him off the Cultural Affairs Committee.

“I am here to serve the people of the City of New York,” Davis said on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” last February. “I am a public advocate for the city, not a public advocate for the speaker, and not a public advocate for the mayor."

"If Gifford Miller, who’s a millionaire, wants to follow Bloomberg, who’s a billionaire, and punish individuals for voting, he’s in violation of our First Amendment," Davis continued. "He’s in violation of the Constitution. So I’m not suing Gifford Miller. This is a fight between the Constitution, the First Amendment, and Gifford Miller.”

Prior to being elected to the City Council, Davis spent his career in law enforcement. In the late 80s as a correction officer, he worked at Rikers Island. In the early 90s, he became a transit officer. And by the mid-90s, he was assigned to the NYPD, working out of the 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn.

Davis was a fierce defender of children’s rights, especially. On the City Council, he was the chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee, among other committees. In 1994, he helped stop Toys R Us from selling look-alike toy guns. That same year, he aggressively campaigned against MTV’s broadcasting of music videos with violent images.

Davis was best known in Brooklyn for organizing Stop the Violence events, where he preached self love and self respect.

- Cheryl Wills


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