The Fair Fines and Fees Coalition held a virtual press conference recently to discuss the city’s impounding of cars and issuing of tickets amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The group issued the following statement:
“The City of Buffalo has impounded over 90 cars since the beginning of the COVID-19 health emergency, and has continued to issue parking and traffic tickets despite the current hardships that Buffalo residents are experiencing.
“We commend the City for placing a moratorium on some specific parking and traffic related matters, but we request bolder action on behalf of providing relief to those whose vehicles are impounded, with outstanding traffic debt, and those being issued parking and traffic tickets.
“The escalating public health and economic crisis wrought by COVID-19 demands that residents use all their assets, including vehicles, to maintain access to necessities and essential employment while social-distancing. The ticketing and impounding of vehicles will serve as a burden for some of the most vulnerable residents in the city, because of the inability to pay.
“In recognition of the thousands of families struggling because of this health emergency, we urge the Mayor, Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, and the Director of the Traffic Violations Agency and Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer, to forgive all outstanding parking and traffic tickets and any related penalties or fees, and to place a moratorium on all impounds, traffic and parking tickets.”
The coalition said over half of the 90 impounds came from the C and E Districts, where many residents are of low income and the majority are people of color. These are neighborhoods the coalition says are already overpoliced and the inability to pay fines puts an undue burden on people already in dire financial straits.