LAWMAKERS in New York City have agreed to reallocate $1billion from its police force to education and social services within the next year after weeks of heated Black Lives Matter protests.
The City Council approved the budget cuts to the New York City Police Department early Wednesday morning, acknowledging protesters’ demands to cut police spending.
Hundreds of New Yorkers flooded City Hall on Tuesday demanding that the city cut $1billion from the NYPD’s budget as the nationwide calls to defund city police forces grow louder.
The “Defund The Police” movement was sparked by outrage over the recent deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of cops.
At a time where America’s biggest city grapples with a $9billion revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic, pressure to cut back on policing and invest more in community and social programs continues to mount.
“Many in my community have supported police and want police. They just want families and young people to be treated safely,” said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, who represents District 16 in the Bronx.
The funding cuts would come from canceling a 1,200-person police recruiting class for next month, reducing overtime spending, ending cop responsibilities for school crossing guards and homeless outreach, and putting desk officers on patrol.
The NYPD would no longer control public school security for the first time since 1998.
Instead, the money will be put towards education and social services in communities ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as summer youth programs.
Critics of the $88.2billion spending plan say the billion-dollar cut is insignificant because part of it was simply shifting police functions like school safety to the Department of Education.
The deal wasn’t good enough for activists, who say the budget needs to make a substantial, not symbolic, difference in improving racial justice and shrinking the size of America’s largest police force.
Demonstrators remained camped out in lower Manhattan near City Hall Park as the bill was signed on Wednesday morning, according to WABC.
He had initially planned to reduce funding by less than one percent while cutting youth services, Reuters reported.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea has said he was open to getting rid of school safety and other cuts as long as the number of officers on patrol stayed the same.
Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised protesters on Tuesday, saying that their efforts have ignited a conversation around defunding policing.
She has said that the $1billion NYPD budget cut is not enough.
“All of those people going out into the streets: you shape the public opinion,” she said.
“And now, the very fact that we’re even talking about police budget, that we’re saying, Hey, why is it that the NYPD gets $6 billion, but housing doesn’t get that much; our youth services don’t get that much; our health services don’t get that much combine.
“Why do we need tanks? Why do we need facial recognition in the subway? Forcing all of those questions: people on the streets did that.”