The City Council’s FY21 budget vote was a racial and economic justice litmus test and we now have the results. We commend the councilmembers who voted NO on the FY21 City budget and its fake NYPD budget cuts for standing with families who have lost loved ones to police, Black, Latinx and other New Yorkers color, and the movement. All others, including Speaker Corey Johnson, as well as Mayor de Blasio, have demonstrated that they do not value Black and Brown lives and that their priorities are, instead, their own political ambitions and allegiance to the NYPD.
Our communities have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic and police violence crises that have coincided with it, yet, in spite of this, the City administration has chosen to forsake our health, safety and well-being and continue the trend of treating the police as if they are above the law, even in the budget.
The Mayor, Speaker and members of the City Council who voted for the budget are trying to use tricks and lies to fool New Yorkers into believing they have met the widely-supported demand to #defundNYPD and invest in our communities. They are doing this because they are scared and because they know New Yorkers will protest – in the streets and with their votes.
To help set the record straight, here’s some of what the budget that was passed does:
1. Protects officers who kill and abuse New Yorkers by failing to hold the NYPD financially accountable for the hundreds of millions it spends to keep brutal and corrupt officers on the force and the hundreds of millions it costs taxpayers in police brutality civil suits.
2. Maintains policing infrastructure in schools and continues to support criminalization of the homeless. Simply transferring School Safety Agents to the Department of Education doesn’t take cops out of schools and doesn’t result in savings that can be invested in our communities. The same is true of transferring officers involved in homeless outreach/policing to other departments.
3. Supports NYPD’s expansion into mental health response – which will only lead to more police killings and brutality against vulnerable New Yorkers who require medical attention and care.
4. Furthers the systemic inequities, which have existed and been expanded in our city for decades and have been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic. The budget fails to make meaningful cuts to the NYPD budget so that funds can be invested in infrastructure and programs our communities need for a more equitable recovery from the pandemic, while making cuts to essential departments and services.
That is what our so-called “progressive” City Council has given us. It’s is disgusting and utterly unacceptable.
While Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson and many in the New York City Council have failed New Yorkers, including and especially the families whose loved ones were killed by the NYPD who have been leading the way to change, we want to uplift what the movement has accomplished and what we will continue to fight for: Through decades of organizing and, most recently, weeks of rising up in the streets we have shifted the public narrative about policing and safety. Our City is waking up to what Black, Latinx and other communities of color have always known – safety does not come from the police, who have always served the purpose of protecting the property and interests of the white elite and the racist-capitalist state. Meeting peoples’ needs and addressing the root causes of inequity is what brings safety.
The movement has built incredible power in these last few months of phone calls, letters, emails, petitions, and taking the streets and the social media stratosphere and this is just the beginning. With the leadership of families who’ve lost loved ones to police and dozens of organizations across the City, we are taking this power into the next fiscal year’s #DefundNYPD for #NYCBudgetJustice campaign, which starts now.