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City Council slashes $1B from police budget, bowing to ‘defund’ demands even as crime soars

By Fabrice Pierre-Toussaint

Staff Writer for Telegraph Local | See my LinkedIn

New York City lawmakers voted on Tuesday on budget changes that deviated $1 billion from the New York Police Department to programs that assist in youth and community development, a number that fell short of what many protesters in the city have requested.

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The City Council said in a statement that the city’s 2021 budget will include $837 million in cuts and transfers to the New York Police Department (NYPD) expense budget, which removes $1 billion from the NYPD’s spending when combined with associated costs, according to Fox News.

The amount is way less than what some protesters demanded. Representative. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said earlier that $1.5 billion in cuts would not be enough.

“Defunding police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math,” she said. One Twitter user wrote, “This is like putting the NYPD budget in Groucho Marx glasses and calling it a day.”

Corey Johnson, the city council speaker, said, “The Council fought hard to get where we are, but I know this is just a starting point, not an ending point. We need to go farther.”

He added the budget agreement “was negotiated with a focus on police reform, youth services, and achieving equity, particularly for low-income communities of color.”

New York City Council Minority Whip Joseph Borelli voted no against the budget cuts and said, “know what we’re doing will create a more violent city.”

Borelli added that there were “72 shootings last week alone, and not one shot by [a] NYPD officer.”

“We must always have safety and we will in this city, but we are also going to amplify both safety and fairness by reaching our young people more deeply than ever before,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said speaking from a press conference Tuesday. “And that’s what this budget is all about.”

Many demonstrators stated the budget changes were not enough, and some plan on staying camped outside City Hall indefinitely.

“We are being gaslit,” said activist Jawanza James Williams. “This movement is about so much more than the $1 billion, and this means they don’t understand what we’re saying.”

City lawmakers agreed to shift the funds away from the NYPD, but police reform activists are concerned that these funds will be moved around in a manner that still benefits the police department.

“To the thousands of New Yorkers who so admirably fought for budget justice over the past several weeks: we heard you and we stand with you,” Johnson said Tuesday. “We recognize that the city must move away from failed racist policing policies of the past.”

An encampment of protesters have set up outside City Hall since last week to demand the city “defund the police” a movement demonstrators have been calling for across the country, since the death of George Floyd in police custody in late May.

Demonstrators calling to “defund the police” want taxpayer funds diverted from policing systems to support initiatives that focus on community and youth programs. Activists say the move would help prevent racial injustices by providing opportunities for underprivileged communities.

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Under the new plan described by de Blasio, a 1,200-person recruiting course set for next month has been canceled, school safety, crossing guards and homeless outreach will no longer be the responsibility of the NYPD, and overtime spending will also be curtailed.

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