Does The Cat Have New York City’s Tongue?: What Can New York City Do To Address Concerns Over “Catcalls”?

Jason Riegert, Albany Government Law Review Member

Every day, young women in this country are faced with challenges.  One challenge that many women face are “catcalls.”  A catcall is “a loud whistle or a comment of a sexual nature made by a man to a passing woman.”[1] An example of a catcall might be something as innocent as: “hey baby, what’s up?,” if shouted to a female stranger passing by.  While such remarks may appear harmless, the problem that arises from these catcalls is a question of harassment.  Are these statements being said in a way that threatens women, or are these simply a form a flattery that women should take as compliments?  Those are the questions that the New York City Council Committee on Women’s Issues is attempting to answer.  The committee met October 28, 2010 to discuss the potential of banning “cat-calls” in New York City.[2]

At the meeting, testimony was heard “from women who said men regularly follow them, yell at them and make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable.”[3] A number of women were called in to discuss the effects that catcalling has had on their lives, stating “[t]his harassment limits the rights and freedoms of women and girls to enjoy a simple walk outside . . . .”[4] These women gave examples of the challenges they face and described the problem as being “an issue of safety.”[5] One organization, known as “Hollaback,” was formed five years ago to stand up to such harassment and “is now pushing the city to commission a study, a public awareness campaign, and perhaps even legislation creating ‘no-harassment zones’ around schools to protect young women.”[6] While Council members are open to many of the ideas, they are still in the process of determining what can be done about street harassment.[7] If legislation is put into effect, a vital issue will be enforcement, “since the concept of no-harassment zones could encroach on First Amendment rights.”[8] This scenario begs the question: can New York City effectively ban catcalls?

Continue reading “Does The Cat Have New York City’s Tongue?: What Can New York City Do To Address Concerns Over “Catcalls”?”

Call For Submissions

The Albany Government Law Review is currently seeking articles for its Education Reform issue, which will be in conjunction with our Fall symposium. The issue and symposium will focus on legal and legislative reforms to education in New York State. The issue will be published in Spring 2011.

The Albany Government Law Review will accept articles between 15-30 pages, which should be of publishable quality and in substantially finished form.

Articles can be submitted electronically. For more information, please contact Fatin Haddad, Managing Editor for Submissions at


The Expanding Trend of Criminalizing the Recording of Police Abuse

Joseph Cucco, Albany Government Law Review Member

In 1991, a private citizen videotaped Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King, forever changing the dynamic of citizen versus police officer.[1] Since then, technology has advanced to the stage where hand-held gadgets, such as cell phones and Blackberrys, are ubiquitous and almost every citizen is a potential videographer.  This has made cell phones and other portable recording devices an effective new weapon against police brutality and the abuse of power.  In response, police have struck back with a weapon of their own: state wiretapping and electronic surveillance laws, originally enacted to protect people from invasion of privacy.  With increasing frequency, authorities of several states are misapplying these laws to threaten and even arrest citizens who video police officers while performing their duties in plain view of the public.

One such instance occurred on March 5, 2010 when Anthony Graber, a sergeant in the Maryland National Guard, was riding his motorcycle down the highway at excessive speeds, admittedly showboating and performing dangerous stunts on a Maryland highway.[2] To record and share his antics, Graber was using a conspicuous helmet-mounted camera and continued to record as he was pulled over by a plain-clothes state trooper driving an unmarked car.[3] The plain clothed trooper cut him off, jumped out of his vehicle brandishing a weapon, and ordered Graber off the motorcycle, all before identifying himself as a state trooper.[4] Graber was cited for speeding and let go.

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Day 2 of Classroom Politics: A Symposium on Education Reform

Lisa Alexander, Public Relations Chair for Fireplace, Albany Government Law Review Member


Charter or public?  Tenure or no tenure?  Testing or no testing?  These are just some of the questions that the roundtable panelists addressed on the second day of Albany Government Law Review’s symposium, “Classroom Politics: A Symposium on Education Reform.”

The panel, held on Thursday, November 11 in the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom, featured a roundtable discussion by five distinguished panelists.  Panelists included Kathy Ahearn, Esq, Partner at Guercio & Guercio; Thomas Carroll, Chair of the Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability and Founder and Chairman of Brighter Choice Charter Schools; Douglas Gerhardt, Member of Harris Beach PLLC; Pauline Kinsella, Executive Director for New York State United Teachers; and Dr. Henry Levin, Ph.D, William H. Kilpatrick Professor of Economics & Education at Columbia University Teacher’s College.  Scott Waldman, Education Reporter for the Albany Times Union, moderated the discussion.

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