(New York, NY) — In response to the disturbing and violent arrest of Jazmine Headley at the Fort Greene Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) center in Brooklyn, Comptroller Stringer issued the following letter to Commissioner Steven Banks of the New York City Department of Social Services.

The letter reads as follows:

Like many New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed by the videos and eyewitness accounts that have surfaced of the violent arrest that occurred at the Fort Greene Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) center on Friday, December 7th. According to published reports, four hours after entering the center with her infant son to inquire about child care benefits, Jazmine Headley was arrested, and viral video shows her son being forcibly pulled from her arms. Four days later, she remains incarcerated at Rikers Island and unable to see her child, who is now in the care of Ms. Headley’s mother.

Investigations to get to the bottom of exactly what led to this particular incident are already underway, and rightly so. However, reports of Ms. Headley’s experience at the SNAP office that morning suggest that a number of structural issues may have contributed to the horrible outcomes in this instance. First, it has been reported that Ms. Headley had lost access to her child care assistance, and that is why she was at the center with her young son in the first place. Secondly, the center itself was reportedly overcrowded, which led Ms. Headley to sit on the floor as she waited to be seen by Human Resources Administration (HRA) staff.

New Yorkers who seek assistance from the City, whether it is by securing a child care voucher or enrolling in SNAP or cash assistance, should expect to be treated with dignity and respect in every interaction with City employees. In turn, City employees should be equipped with the tools, including the necessary resources and training, to be able to uphold this most essential but vital responsibility.

To read the full letter, click here.