Protests have gone awry with police showing their true colors, beating and intimidating protesters. Police departments have gotten too big and too powerful, and recent reforms—think body cameras and implicit bias training—haven't worked. What seemed unimaginable before is now so clearly the path forward: from LA to NY, advocates, activists, and regular degular civilians are calling to defund and dismantle police departments and redirect funds to social services. This week, we’ll be diving into what we mean when we say #DefundNYPD and how you can play a role in making it happen.
The City’s budget is due in 2 weeks and a growing chorus of New Yorkers are demanding a $1 billion cut to the NYPD budget in Fiscal Year 2021, bringing their annual spending down from $6B to $5B. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. City workers past and present have spoken up, marched through the streets, and written letters to the Mayor demanding he seriously curtail NYPD’s reign over the city. After dragging his feet and denying a problem, the Mayor announced he is open to some NYPD budget cuts, and a coalition of City Council members has committed to getting those cuts to $1B. But the devil is in the details and we need to hold our electeds’ feet to the fire.
#DefundNYPD is about redefining public safety and no longer throwing cops at problems they are not equipped to solve. The focus must be on actually reducing harm in Black and brown communities by directing resources to mental health providers, social workers, and victim/survivor advocates. It’s not enough to just sneakily hide budget lines for current cops within other City agencies. Defunding the NYPD won’t happen instantly, but we can begin to gradually chip away and reallocate their resources so that those responding to a crisis are those best equipped to deal with the situation. Specifically, we must prioritize transformative justice—because “violence and harm cannot be used to solve violence and harm.”