Planning to tackle systemic poverty as an antidote to militant policing, Beckford vows to reform police accountability, affordable housing and the state’s budget.
Ever since scoring his first victory in advocacy at the age of 12, when he prevented his school district from losing funding through a proposed rezoning, Anthony Beckford has been fiercely protective of the East Flatbush community where he grew up.
The 2018 run for State Assembly District 42, which includes Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood and Ditmas Park, is not Beckford’s first try for political office. The single father and disabled Marine Corps veteran ran for City Council District 45 in 2017, losing to incumbent Jumaane Williams. In his second campaign, this time running against incumbent Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, Beckford holds fast to his initial platform: tackling systemic poverty as an antidote to militant policing.
The heart of the problem of “so-called” affordable housing, a key issue in his community, is that rents are not based off the specific median income level of the community, he says.
“The median income that we’re looking at is based on all five boroughs and Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County,” Beckford says. “We need to determine the median income level for each community, whether you base it on census data or zip codes.”
Police accountability is another major focus for Beckford, who heads the Brooklyn sector of Copwatch Patrol Unit, a grassroots police watchdog that documents NYPD misconduct through photography and videos. After the fatal shooting of Dwayne Jeune in East Flatbush last July, he uploaded a cellphone video on YouTube documenting the scene of the murder.
“I actually had footage of the [NYPD] saying, ‘This is what you get for messing with the blue line.’ We get targeted and we get hurt in the process,” he says of his work with Copwatch. “But these are things that you have to do to be a leader to your community.”
Beckford cites the lack of after-school and summer programs for children leading to disconnected youth and higher crime rates, another problem he intends to tackle.
“I used to be told growing up, ‘The busier you are, the less idle you are,’” he says. “The children out here are looking for something to do.”
He plans to use the NYPD budget allocated for equipping all officers with body cameras for community centers, after-school programs and funding the Cure Violence initiative, a program dedicated to treating violence as a public health issue.
Running his campaign on a shoestring budget, — he has raised just $485 from a goal of $20,000 — he prefers a low-cost grassroots approach of weekly public speak-outs and communicating with voters through uncut YouTube videos filmed on his cell phone.
“There are times when I’m in barbershops and laundromats talking to people and educating them on why it is important to vote, why it is important for us to have our voices heard,” says Beckford. “So that corporations no longer have control over our community.”
Green Party candidate Anthony Beckford will be facing incumbent Democratic Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte in the general election on November 6, 2018.