The Preliminary NYC Budget: How it Defrauds New Yorkers & Enables the NYPD

A statement by NYC-DSA’s #DefundNYPD Campaign

Last Thursday, with the release of his Preliminary NYC Budget, Mayor de Blasio made his priorities painfully clear. He has responded to a summer of protests against anti-Black police brutality and nationwide calls to defund the police — by proposing even more funding for the NYPD.

It’s a bizarre, albeit unsurprising move from our weak-willed Mayor, at a time when the white supremacist ties to our nation’s police have been laid bare for the entire world to see. As revelations emerge about law enforcement’s collusion with right-wing rioters at the Capitol, and as the NYPD investigates at least one of its own for participating in the riot, de Blasio has proposed increasing the NYPD’s already exorbitant budget by $36 million and the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) budget by $6.5 million. All this, while slashing funds for the essential services that keep New York City safe and healthy.

The Preliminary NYC Budget, which will undergo a series of negotiations before adoption in the summer, is stark proof of the Mayor’s broken promises to his constituents. The Mayor claimed he would not propose cuts to health or housing budgets at a time when pandemic-weary New Yorkers need these services more than ever — yet he has proposed slashing funding to both by hundreds of millions of dollars. While millions of New Yorkers suffer the daily horror and anxieties of homelessness, food insecurity, illness, and looming evictions, de Blasio proposes, among other cuts, a 19% cut to public health and mental health services; a 14% cut to homeless services; an 11% cut to youth and community services; and 4% cuts to our city’s emergency management services. By generously rewarding the NYPD’s violence with millions more in taxpayer dollars while defunding our city’s most essential services, de Blasio shows he does not care about the lives of Black, brown, and working class New Yorkers.

If public safety is the goal, both the Mayor and his beloved NYPD officers seem confused — and more committed to enabling white supremacist rage than caring for the well-being of our communities. Most recently, NYPD officers — some in riot gear — commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by assaulting Black Lives Matter protesters, and by arresting Hunts Point Produce Market workers who were protesting for a $1 raise and greater healthcare coverage. (These are essential workers who transport 60% of our city’s produce to restaurants and markets — many of whom have lost their lives after being exposed to COVID-19.) To help their officers carry on with the repeated brutalization and mass arrests of working class New Yorkers, the NYPD’s police unions are currently fighting back against the recent repeal of section 50-a, which had allowed for the shielding of police misconduct records from the public.

More than a mere insult, the Mayor’s proposal to defund our community services and pad the NYPD’s budget is an illogical, inefficient, and ultimately ineffective approach to community safety. More cops and higher police budgets simply do not lead to safer cities. Public safety cannot, and will not, come from a police force that has been so thoroughly infiltrated by white supremacists that the FBI has openly admitted to it — stating that “militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.” A majority of NYC residents agree we must defund the police and redirect those funds to other services — yet the Mayor remains, as always, reticent to denounce the NYPD and intent on ignoring the needs and desires of his constituents.

Instead of pulling funds from the NYPD’s exorbitant $10.9 billion in spending (in fiscal year 2020), the Mayor has asked, in his preliminary budget, for already beleaguered “labor partners” to help come up with an additional $1 billion in savings. In his “Plan to Eliminate the Gap” (PEG), he has stated that he will abide by a strict “3-out / 1-in rule,” which is exactly how it sounds: for every three city workers who leave their job, the agency will only hire one city worker to replace them. 7,000 city jobs have already been cut since January — yet the Mayor has demanded that an additional 5,000 jobs be reduced through attrition. (The NYPD, of course, is excluded from this hiring freeze.) In short, Mayor de Blasio has asked Black, brown, and working class people to continue bearing the brunt of the pandemic, without the agencies and services we need most — while handing the NYPD even more resources to brutalize, murder, and oppress them.

Some media pundits and politicians have pointed to the riots at the Capitol as proof that defunding the police is “dangerous” or “shortsighted.” But as a multi-racial community of organizers, we must ask the obvious questions: When Black and brown protesters are at the helms, why is it that the police have more than enough resources to suppress their First Amendment rights quickly and brutally, with tactics so dehumanizing that the our nation’s police force has been accused of human rights violations by several international organizations? How can NYPD officers violently abuse unarmed and peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters — while exercising unusual restraint when white supremacists and members of the Proud Boys terrorize our city? Why did we watch federal police officers in Washington, D.C. engulf peaceful BLM protesters in plumes of tear gas — only to later politely and gingerly escort pro-Trump rioters down the steps of the U.S. Capitol?

Mayor de Blasio will soon step down, leaving behind a legacy of deceit and half-hearted efforts — yet we will continue to hold our elected representatives, community leaders, mayoral hopefuls, and city council candidates accountable to the people of New York City. Over the next weeks and months, as the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget is circulated amongst City Council members, community boards, and borough boards, we urge our leaders to defund the police and refund the people — and create a budget that prioritizes the well-being of all New Yorkers. We don’t have time for hand-wringing or half-truths. The NYC-DSA #DefundNYPD campaign demands the immediate defunding of the NYPD by 50% — and the immediate investing of those resources into community care.

The Preliminary Budget will be finalized in the summer — which means we still have time to make our voices heard. Join us in holding our leaders accountable, denouncing the documented roots of white supremacy within our country’s police force, and fighting back against state-sanctioned violence against Black, brown, and working class communities. If you are an individual who would like to join our campaign, or a member of an organization that would like to endorse this statement or collaborate, visit msha.ke/defundnypd.

About #DefundNYPD: #DefundNYPD is a campaign led by NYC-DSA, a local branch of the National Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). They are the largest leftist organization in the United States — and support the people’s demand to defund the police and abolish the prison industrial complex. The DSA works collaboratively with community members, labor unions, and grassroots organizations to build a mass, multiracial, democratic abolitionist movement.

Endorsing organizations: Fight Back Bay Ridge and GAPIMNY — Empowering Queer & Trans Asian Pacific Islanders