Civil rights groups are speaking out against New York City's proposed freeze on Uber and Lyft

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • Civil rights groups joined Uber and Lyft in opposing proposed legislation to limit the amount of ride-sharing vehicles in New York City.
  • Some Black and Latino New Yorkers fear racial discrimination by yellow cabs and for-hire vehicles.
  • Uber has launched a social media campaign against the proposed legislation, including the hashtag #DontStrandNYC.

Civil rights groups joined Uber and Lyft in their fight against the New York City Council’s proposed plan to place a cap on the number of vehicles that ride-share services can operate in the city.

After City Council Speaker Corey Johnson revealed his proposal to place a freeze on new ride-sharing vehicles allowed in New York City, the N.A.A.C.P., the National Urban League, and the National Action Network all joined Uber and Lyft in publicly opposing the proposed legislation.

According to an article published on Sunday by the New York Times, some Black and Latino New Yorkers feel that getting to their destinations is harder for them as yellow taxis deliberately pass them up on the street.

Dr. Johnnie M. Green Jr., a pastor in Harlem, told the New York Times, “It’s a racial issue. The people that champion the crusade against Uber do not have a problem hailing yellow cabs.”

Neither the N.A.A.C.P. nor the National Urban League responded to Business Insider for comment.

On Saturday, Reverend Al Sharpton spoke publicly at the Harlem headquarters of his organisation, the National Action Network. Sharpton stood in-front of an audience and loudly denounced City Council’s proposed cap on Uber and Lyft cars saying, “I’m trying to get to work, I’m trying to get to school. I want somebody that’s gonna pick me up.”

The City Council’s proposed legislation would place a one-year freeze on any new ride-sharing vehicles (driving for companies like Lyft or Uber) while studying what effect the growth of ride-sharing services has had on New York City. Mayor Bill DeBlasio voiced support for the plan in a radio interview on Friday.

City Council is motivated to limit the amount of ride-sharing vehicles on the road because of increased congestion in New York City, and the fact that multiple yellow cab and for-hire vehicle drivers have killed themselves in the past year.

According to Curbed New York, Speaker Johnson said he understood the concerns of civil rights groups but stressed that the existing vehicles wouldn’t be taken off the streets – only the addition of new ones would be stopped for a year-long period to examine their full impact.

The City Council could vote on the measure as early as August 8.

Uber spokesperson Danielle Filson said in a statement to Business Insider: “New Yorkers have been demanding that our leaders fix the subways; instead, they have decided to break Uber. Capping Uber will strand riders in the outer boroughs where subway service is the worst.”

Uber has already mobilized a $US1 million advertising campaign against the initiative, including the use of the hashtag #DontStrandNYC.

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