Statement on NYPD Funding
June 29, 2020
This past weekend, the world celebrated the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and several thousand New Yorkers attended the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality organized by the The Reclaim Pride Coalition. The march was a peaceful demonstration of collective solidarity against anti-black racism, and a celebration of queer and trans identites. However, as marchers entered Washington Square Park, New York Police Department officers swarmed the crowd and violently wielded batons, pepper sprayed, shoved and arrested marchers. This unnecessary and unacceptable display of force felt as if our community was reliving the unyielding brutality and harassment by police that made the first pride a riot more than five decades ago, once again underscoring the urgency for tangible, systemic change.
The overreach and abuse experienced by marchers at the hands of the officers this weekend is just one in an exhaustive list demonstrating the lack of accountability and unchecked power of the NYPD that has bloated with its ever-growing budget. We have seen countless hours of disturbing footage, where NYPD officers brutalize and murder Black people including many Black queer and trans people, targeting the very communities they are tasked with protecting and serving. The NYPD’s actions have displayed a consistent lack of transparency and accountability. The reforms that have been passed in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Elijah McClain, Eric Garner and countless others do not go far enough, as evidenced by these ongoing acts of brutality.
Mayor de Blasio has allowed the NYPD’s annual budget to swell to more than what the city spends on the departments of health, homeless services, youth development and workforce development combined. The Mayor and the City Council have a moral and ethical obligation to invest in communities’ social services and infrastructure and divest from the criminalizing and abusive policing of Black, Latinx and other communities of color.
The Center reiterates our endorsement and support of Communities United for Police Reform’s proposal to defund the NYPD by at least $1 billion from the NYPD’s FY21 expense budget to ensure that there are ample funds to protect and strengthen the essential services, programs and infrastructure that address the key needs of Black, Latinx and other NYC communities of color.
There are necessary lifesaving and changing city services that have been underfunded for too long. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated and highlighted every measure of inequality in New York City. We cannot afford to cut public education, essential life-line services and community programs, while leaving a hawkish police force with myriad complaints of abuse, brutality and ethical violations, untouched.
As budget negotiations near their close, we call on the New York City Council to cut at least $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget and reinvest those monies in community services, education, healthcare and infrastructure. We also call on Mayor de Blasio to uphold his initial promise to reallocate a portion of NYPD’s FY21 budget for vital social service programs.
New Yorkers’ safety and prosperity is dependent on the provision of strong, accessible, culturally competent citywide systems and infrastructure that center the needs of Black, Latinx and other communities of color who are historically most marginalized and disproportionately bear the consequences of inaction. Safety and prosperity for all is only possible when every resident’s basic needs are met. A $1 billion cut from the NYPD’s baseline budget will take critical steps towards a more equitable recovery from the pandemic and begin to build the necessary foundation of support for all New Yorkers to thrive.
Shijuade Kadree, Esq., MPH
Chief Advocacy Officer