Activists continue calls to defund the police amid surge in citywide shootings

Despite the surge in shootings and violence throughout New York City, activists are still calling for cuts to the NYPD’s $6 billion budget for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.

The NYC Budget Justice Coalition and Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) on Tuesday, June 29, joined families of those killed during interactions with police officers by demanding the removal of $1 billion promised by the New York City Council last year during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Although the Big Apple faces a storm of bullets in the form of daily shootings — including that of a vacationing Marine who received a gunshot wound to the back in Times Square on Sunday — those at the City Hall Park rally on Tuesday believe the NYPD can be, and has been throughout the years, an even more deadly force.

The rally sought to advocate for relocating funds form the NYPD to community programs. Photo by Dean Moses

Looking to trim the fat off the citywide police force and reallocate the funds to community-based programs and other ventures such as investing in education and mental health support, the group cited the upcoming City Council vote, a date for which has yet to be determined, as a critical opportunity to see their agenda realized.  In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City’s 2022 budget to be $98.6 billion to help recover the metropolis’ economy. The deadline to vote on this new budget is set for June 30, as July 1 marks the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year.

“There is a city budget that is supposed to be happening and it is the first time in person in a really long time, and what are they doing? They are hiding. They are not making any information public; they are not allowing the community members to say where the money should be spent,” said Adilka Pimente, of Communities United for Police Reform. “We are here to make sure they can hear us, and make sure we get our demands read aloud and clear. We need money for our communities. We know the money exists; it is all about where you are putting it. The safest communities don’t have the most cops, they have the most resources.”

“Vote no,” says this demonstrator.  Photo by Dean Moses

The rally criticized the current $6 billion NYPD budget, calling it “bloated” while also denouncing some 36,000 police officers currently employed for failing to make meaningful changes to safety while also disrupting community events, referring to an altercation between officers and revelers at Washington Square Park during a Pride celebration. Not only that, but families who say they have experienced the dark side of law enforcement firsthand are also pleading for the city council to vote against the FY22 budget.

Hawa Bah gripped a framed photograph of her son Mohamed Bah, who was shot eight times by the NYPD while inside of his Manhattan apartment in September of 2012. The parent, who has been fighting for her son’s memory for nearly a decade, made it clear where she stands on the budget cut proposal.

Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah. Photo by Dean Moses

“I am here today to make sure that the budget be cut, and the money get sent to communities in need [for] mental health support, health care, schools, better housing and all the necessities in a community. I am not standing here today just for Mohamed Bah. I am standing for all victims of police brutality,” Hawa Bah told the group of onlookers holding “Defund NYPD” banners.

She was joined by those who know her pain all too well, including the mother of Amadou Diallo, Kadiatou Diallo, as well as Mercy Baez, cousin of Anthony Baez, who both agreed with stripping funds from the NYPD.

The group assembled outside City Hall on Tuesday.  Photo by Dean Moses