New York – Council Members David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) and Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) announced bi-partisan legislation yesterday aimed at protecting minors at New York City’s public libraries from predators who are accessing indecent materials on the Internet in full view of children. Greenfield and Ulrich’s legislation would criminalize any adult viewing such materials within 100 feet of a minor in a public library.
“I have had a number of outraged constituents call me about their children encountering sickos viewing indecent materials in full view of library patrons,” explained Councilman Greenfield. “When I was a kid, libraries were a safe haven for children. Allowing sickos to view indecent materials in front of children is an open invitation to predators to use libraries as their stalking grounds. Our bi-partisan legislation would send an unmistakable message to predators: expose yourself to children and you will go to jail.”
Greenfield and Ulrich are co-sponsoring this legislation after New York’s public libraries refused to use Internet filters to block filthy websites from view. The New York, Brooklyn and Queens public libraries insist that restricting access to indecent websites would impinge on patrons’ freedom of speech. Greenfield and Ulrich crafted their legislation as an alternative means of ensuring a safe, child-friendly environment at public libraries, while avoiding any violation of the First Amendment. Because the legislation is narrowly tailored to protect children, it is expected to pass any constitutional challenges.
“This is a common sense piece of legislation aimed at protecting the safety of our children while they spend time at the library,” said Councilman Ulrich. “We need to do more to ensure while our kids are enjoying our public libraries that they are not exposed to indecent materials.”
Greenfield and Ulrich’s legislation would make viewing such materials within 100 feet of a child a misdemeanor carrying a fine of no less than $1,000 and no more than $10,000 with the possibility of imprisonment for no more than 180 days. The punishment would be determined by a judge.
“l am a strong supporter of our public libraries and the value and rich experiences that they provide to New Yorkers,” said Councilman Greenfield. “Part of that experience, however, should not be traumatizing children by exposing them to debasing material.”
(YWN Desk – NYC / Press Release)