As the time for adopting the city’s annual budget nears, protesters are putting pressure on leaders to take $1 billion away from the New York City Police Department’s $6 billion budget.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that he will reduce police funding, but he has not quoted a figure.
Last week, an encampment that’s being termed “Occupy City Hall” sprang up at City Hall Park in lower Manhattan, with demonstrators demanding reduced spending on the NYPD.
The protest has continued to grow, with Sunday marking the sixth straight day that demonstrators camped out in the park, Fox News reported.
“Strong communities make safe communities, and police don’t, and so that’s what we’re fighting for,” protester Charles Khan told WCBS-TV.
“We’re fighting for a drastic change to the way that this city says that it’s providing safety but hasn’t provided safety.”
“If anything, we know that NYPD does not keep us more safe. They actually put us in more harm and more danger,” protester Jonathan Lykes added.
The crowd occupying NYC City Hall park and demanding that the NYPD budget be cut by $1 BILLION is gigantic now.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) June 27, 2020
One protest leader dangled the threat of something more than occupying a park if the budget cut demand is not met.
“The occupation is planning on staying here until June 30th, calling for at least $1 billion [in cuts] and to reinvest the money into communities,” Jawanza Williams, director of organizing for VOCAL-NY, said in a statement to the New York Post.
“If the cuts aren’t included in the budget, there is no telling what the masses of people who have been mobilized by this movement will do,” he said.
The call to cut police funding comes at a time when New York City is experiencing a spike in gun violence.
The city has seen 125 shooting incidents this month, WCBS reported Wednesday, which is more than in any June since 1996.
“You cannot keep people safe without keeping bad, dangerous people off the streets,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said, citing the so-called bail reform policy that sends many of those arrested back onto the streets and a justice system that was hobbled during the current health crisis.
“We have thousands of cases where people have been arrested and not even charges brought up against them because they’ve been deferred,” Shea said.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and seven other council members support the $1 billion in cuts, according to the Post.
“We believe that we can and should work to get to $1 billion in cuts to New York City’s police spending in the Fiscal 2021 budget, an unprecedented reduction that would not only limit the scope of the NYPD, but also show our commitment towards moving away from the failed policing policies of the past,” Johnson said earlier this month.
City Councilman Joe Borelli, a Republican who represents parts of Staten Island, disagreed.
“I am still trying to figure out how cutting uniformed headcount changes any police accountability policy, or ends racism, or does anything the protesters were demanding,” he told the Post.
“It’s reducing the number of new hires, the majority of whom will statistically be people of color.”
The city’s budget deadline is July 1.
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