Following days of protests against police brutality and mounting demands for action in overhauling a department whose tactics and misconduct has been in the limelight, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that for the first time, he would divert city funds from the New York Police Department to youth and social services.
What We Know:
- De Blasio has continued to face criticism in the wake of demonstrations in New York City this past week in response to the death of George Floyd and police brutality. De Blasio enacted a nearly week-long curfew for the city, which many activists criticized as being “tone deaf” because it seemed to give a pass to the police for aggressive tactics to enforce the curfew on defiant protestors and ultimately escalate any situation.
While I understand the potential benefits of a curfew, this is neither the right moment nor the right process for imposing one and adding an additional 4,000 officers to our streets.
At this moment and in this way it could escalate tension, not alleviate them. (1/3)
— Office of the Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams (@nycpa) June 2, 2020
- One of the major platforms of de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign was that he would instill racial equality through all levels of government, invoking the image of his mixed-race children to gain the needed support from minority communities. But it’s the same communities that feel he is turning his back on them now as he appears unwilling to confront the reality of potential police violence at peaceful protests, saying to him, it’s a “very calm situation”.
At Barclays Center now. Very calm situation. So far, the curfew is certainly helping, based on everything I’ve seen in Brooklyn and Manhattan over the last three hours.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 3, 2020
- Earlier this week, hundreds of former and current administrative workers for de Blasio published an open letter outlining reform demands for him, including requests of greater accountability, discipline, and transparency regarding cases of excessive force by police personnel. As of Saturday, 1,000 former and current employees signed.
- One administrative personnel told reporters that “de Blasio’s repeated denials that police as a whole have been overly aggressive… helped fuel the staff backlash”. Adding, “I feel as if I’m being gaslighted by my own boss when I personally experienced brutality at the hands of the NYPD at a protest last night”. Another employee adding, “de Blasio ran on a platform of equity and police reform, and if we’re staying silent right now then we are just as complicit as he is”.
- In response to this public outrage from both New York City residents and former and current employees, de Blasio pledged to cut the city’s police funding and instead reallocate the funds to “youth initiatives and social services”. He declined to say how much of the NYPD’s $6 billion annual budget will be diverted, telling reporters at a press conference Sunday, “we’re committed to seeing a shift of funding to youth services, to social services, that will happen literally in the course of the next three weeks, but I’m not going to go into detail because it is subject to negotiation and we want to figure out what makes sense”.
- De Blasio has announced a four-step plan to reform the largest police department in the United States, the NYPD. His plan calls for:
- A redistribution of NYPD funding to youth and social services,
- Reforming states civil rights law 50-A to increase the transparency of police discipline,
- Shifting enforcement of street vendors, many of who are persons of color or immigrants, away from police,
- and focusing on hiring community ambassadors into the senior level of the NYPD.
- Critics are skeptical that de Blasio’s vow to cut funding for the police department would amount to anything substantive as he has been criticized for his lack of action in police reform and his inability to control and discipline police actions during his tenure. While he did phase out the stop-and-frisk policies of the previous mayor, Mike Bloomberg, it took five years for de Blasio’s police force to fire Daniel Pantaleo, the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner who was killed during a botched arrest in which Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold.
Mayor de Blasio has confirmed that the details would be worked out with the City Council in advance of the July 1 budget deadline but has not released any further details or steps for the reforms.