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By: Communities United for Police Reform via Black Star News

New York, NY – Wednesday, 78 organizations sent a letter calling on Speaker Adrienne Adams and the City Council to end the Mayor’s approach of unilaterally shrinking critical services while expanding the role of the NYPD and preserving NYPD budget bloat.

The Mayor’s approach to budgeting in FY23 and FY24 is hurting New Yorkers, especially Black, Latinx, LGBTQI folks, immigrants, youth, and other impacted New Yorkers that are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter, organized by Communities United for Police Reform and being released ahead of the Mayor’s upcoming State of the City address, includes signatories doing work in multiple sectors across the city and nationally. The letter includes demands that the city change its course of action and decrease the already over-bloated NYPD budget instead of cutting funding to critical housing, mental health, education and legal services as well as access to public benefits, public libraries, police-oversight, and other critical public infrastructure New Yorkers rely on.

The letter states: We are alarmed that as the city faces economic headwinds, the Mayor is making significant cuts to critical services and safety net programs New Yorkers need, while simultaneously funding NYPD overspending and enabling NYPD impunity by decreasing funding for police oversight and accountability. We need the Speaker and City Council to ensure that the FY24 Budget restores and protects critical services and programs that our communities rely on and that are essential for the full recovery of our city.

CPR spokesperson Ixele Akinmowo-Simon of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) said, “Today, with a unified voice, New Yorkers across the city are calling for what we truly need to survive and thrive. The Mayor continues to sacrifice essential services like housing, mental health, early childhood education and libraries while preserving an over-bloated police budget. Protecting the NYPD’s bloated budget from financial and personnel cuts will not make our city safer and will only serve to increase criminalization of communities the Mayor is neglecting to serve and support.”

“Black, Latinx and other communities of color, immigrants, homeless NYers, youth, LGBTQI NYers, and more from across the city are making it clear that we need our elected officials to stand on the side of communities and prioritize immediate and sustainable investments in health, education, housing, community programs and other critical services, while also reducing the size and scope of the NYPD and cut the department’s bloated budget. Mayor Adams’ approach to our city’s budget will do more harm in criminalizing our communities rather than support a safe and just recovery.”

Several of the signers of the letter commented on Mayor Adams budget priorities.

“The agencies the Mayor proposes to cut funding to impact the lives of working class communities every day. We cannot accept that our people sleep on the street while the police get paid to terrorize communities of color. How can thousands of people be homeless in one of the richest cities in the world? We have a right to demand safe & affordable housing for our communities. When we talk about safety, we mean access to health care, housing, food, well-funded schools and reliable subways. What our community members need is to see an investment in our libraries and the legal services they rely on for their immigration cases, not more money for cops,” said Salma Allam, she/her, Coalition Organizer at the Arab American Association of New York

“Once again, Eric Adams parrots dangerous right-wing rhetoric around asylum seekers, as well as labor wins, being the reason for may of the cuts,” says Fahd Ahmed, Executive Director of Desis Rising up and Moving (DRUM). “The reality is it is his austerity policies that push the burden from the rich to the working-class, and shift from essential needs of our communities to policing. This is not acceptable and will compound the suffering our communities are already enduring from the pandemic. We must reverse course and invest in our working-class communities.”

“The fact that the CCRB’s budget is less than 1% of the NYPD’s means that the agency already struggles to advance investigations of NYPD misconduct and abuse in the timely and thorough fashion that New Yorkers need and deserve. Additional cuts to the CCRB’s budget will significantly exacerbate this problem, unjustly extending the suffering of New Yorkers who’ve lost loved ones to the police and survivors of police violence. Along with Mayor Adams’ lack of action to fire the officers who killed Kawaski Trawick, Delrawn Small, Allan Feliz, Eric Garner, Ronald Anthony Smith and Antonio Williams, and his Police Commissioner overturning over 70 discipline recommendations by the CCRB and NYPD judges, Adams’ push to further diminish resources to the CCRB is part of his administration’s pattern of deprioritizing New Yorkers and police accountability in favor of shielding abusive officers and expanding police power,” stated Loyda Colon (they/them, Executive Director, Justice Committee.

“If Mayor Adams wants to solve the crisis of homelessness in this city, he’s going about it the wrong way,” said Althea Matthews, a leader with VOCAL-NY. “The city needs to focus on getting people housed — not cutting services and staff that tackle homelessness. Real estate executives in the Mayor’s pocket might benefit from the Mayors proposed budget, but New Yorkers will not.”

“It is unconscionable that Mayor Adams has decided to cut funding from New York City’s public schools, libraries, and mental health services while expanding the NYPD’s already bloated budget,” said Michael Collins, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Color Of Change. “At a time when we desperately need to overhaul our current public safety system — which causes deep harm to Black and brown communities — the mayor is doubling down on it. We call on Speaker Adrienne Adams and the New York City Council to halt this budget action and commit to safeguarding the social services on which New Yorkers depend.”

“The mayor’s choice to systematically fund punishment and criminalization over care and education only deepens the hurt pushed onto our Black, immigrant, working class, and other vulnerable communities of New York. We call on Speaker Adams and the Council to follow the leadership of countless community groups organizing the people who will be most impacted and use their power to fund the critical services we need: education, healthcare, housing, mental health, and good jobs—not the bloated NYPD budget,” stated Matthew Tran, Center for Popular Democracy.

“Mayor Adams’s budget cuts represent a failure to learn from the city’s past mistakes and a continued refusal to admit that criminalizing poverty, mental health challenges, and housing instability does not keep our city safe. The safest communities are not the ones with the most police; they are the communities with the most resources, the strongest social safety nets, and the most accessible and non-punitive clinical supports for people in crisis,” said Michael Sisitzky, Assistant Policy Director at the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“We know what young people and families need to be safe. Stable, affordable housing, quality schools, after school and summer programs, healthcare, parks, and pathways to living wage jobs. The Mayor’s budget cuts funding for these things while protecting an NYPD budget that gets more bloated every year.” — Kate Rubin, Director of Policy at Youth Represent.

“At a time when our children need intense social, emotional and academic support, Mayor Adams continues to propose austerity measures that harm children, families, schools and communities. We need leaders who assess the problems and come up with solutions that protect children and families, not the NYPD’s budget. Continuing to drain funds from public education is not a solution – it’s a recipe for disaster for our children,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education.

“Once again, Mayor Adams proposes an austerity budget that calls for large-scale cuts to the City’s crucial programs, services and infrastructure while maintaining the NYPD’s enormous budget. Instead of working to support our most marginalized community members, Adams is working overtime to defund our public schools, homeless and housing services, libraries, mental health services, services for the aging, and other critical programs. Yet, the NYPD’s $11.2 billion budget remains untouched, which will lead to more Black, brown, and low-income New Yorkers being targeted, arrested, and incarcerated at hellhole that is Rikers Island. The City must stop the harmful and wasteful practice of investing in policing and jails and instead invest in true public safety: housing, jobs, health care, and education,” stated Melanie Dominguez, Senior Community Organizer at Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice.

“The mayor’s budget guts the essential services that represent true community safety: public schools, housing, mental healthcare, youth programs, public transportation, support for domestic violence survivors, services for the elderly, libraries, and beyond. We call on our City Council to reject the mayor’s continued investment in criminalization and his $11.2 billion for police, and to pass a budget that serves the people of our city,” said Alli Finn, Senior Researcher & Organizer at the Surveillance Resistance Lab.

“By continuing to embrace austerity rather than economic fairness, Mayor Adams is condemning millions of already vulnerable New Yorkers to economic insecurity, homelessness, underfunded schools, lack of medical care, and intensive, invasive, and abusive policing,” said Alex S. Vitale, Coordinator, Policing and Social Justice Project.

“New Yorkers are not safe when they are isolated and lonely, and the horrendous cuts to the FY24 library budgets will reduce access to the one place in our city where everyone is welcome and can find something that speaks to them, the Public Library. Libraries connect our communities all over the city but we cannot help our public if we do not have the capacity to meet our neighbor’s needs,” stated Lauren Comito, Executive Director, Urban Librarians Unite.

About Communities United for Police Reform

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.

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