Demonstrators are demanding elected officials keep promises to defund the NYPD.
Gathering outside City Hall where less than a year prior, protesters had set up camp calling it an autonomous zone in support of the defunding the police movement, banners and signs once again returned to the area asking for the removal of funds from law enforcement, this time in pursuit of last year’s promise to cut $1 billion from the NYPD.
Taking place one day before City Council’s first June meeting, various advocacy groups such as Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), VOCAL-NY, Make the Road New York, and others are demanding that $1 billion be removed from the NYPD’s budget and reinvested into other public solutions like education and community outreach programs. In June 2020, the New York City Council voted on the proposed budget saying “yes” to the reallocation. Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson agreed to cut money from the NYPD’s $6 billion operating budget.
Activists say this action comes as a result of the local government, as of yet, failing to fulfill last year’s pledge to reallocate these funds.
The rally demanded that changes be made before the approval of the 2022 fiscal year budget on June 30.
“We’re here because we are the folks who have been talking about policing, and we are the folks who’ve been making changes around policing, which is less than we can say for Corey Johnson and the rest of our council,” said Anthonine Pierre, deputy director of the Brooklyn Movement Center, adding, “Even though we know Mayor de Blasio and Speak Corey Johnson said they were defunding the NYPD by $1 billion, we are going to see only a few hundred thousand dollars come out of the NYPD budget at the end of the day.”
Pierre addressed the increase in violence throughout the boroughs, and shares that much of this is due to the pandemic inducing depression, anxiety, exhaustion and uneasiness; however, she states that instead of providing resources they are given more officers on the streets who are hanging out instead of patrolling to aid others.
“What we are seeing is more money getting pumped into cops standing on our corners texting each other,” Pierre said, emphasizing the resources needed, “When we talk about safety, we are talking about mental health services, we are talking about getting cops out of schools because young people need guidance, not being arrested.”
Protesters state they want the police out of the school system and resources shifted directly into community programming and social services, such as counseling, drug rehab, and more. They are also calling for more transparency from the New York City Council.
“We are living in a city where people cannot advance if you are in a Black and Brown community right now. The city may be moving forward out of the pandemic, but when we talk about what Black and Brown folks experience we are not going forward, we are going backward,” Pierre said.