Read the full piece in Black Star News

New York, NY -- This week, Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) members and partners, including Audre Lorde Project, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Make the Road NY, the Urban Youth Collaborative, New York City Anti-Violence Project and more delivered testimony to the NYC City Council public hearing on the FY23 budget. Community leaders, advocates and experts called for cuts to the NYPD budget and increased investments in non-police health and safety solutions.

The mayor’s suggested FY23 budget is the largest NYPD policing budget ever proposed, meanwhile crucial community services are receiving comparatively microscopic investments. This year, Communities United for Police Reform’s NYC Budget Justice campaign is calling for at least $1 billion to be cut from the NYPD budget and redirected to non-police health and safety solutions, like community violence prevention and intervention programs, mental health services and overdose prevention, housing, jobs and education programs.

“The NYPD’s bloated budget and outsized power have grown under every mayor; yet pouring seamlessly endless amounts of money into the NYPD to flood our neighborhoods and public spaces with cops, target our communities with broken windows policing and increase invasive, harmful surveillance have completely failed to address safety in our communities—and everyone knows it,” said Anthonine Pierre of Communities United for Police Reform. “Look anywhere in this city, and it’s clear that the safest communities are those with the most resources, housing, education, jobs, healthcare, community services and more. They are not the communities flooded with the most police. Mayor Adams and City Council must act in line with what communities are demanding after two years of a pandemic and importantly, what we know will work.”

In addition to the $1 billion in funding cuts for the NYPD, CPR’s budget justice campaign is also demanding more transparency in the NYPD budget and calling for the canceling of regressive policing tactics, including canceling abusive, rebranded anti-crime units; putting a halt to NYPD homeless encampment sweeps and the NYPD’s mental health co-response teams, and canceling units like the NYPD Strategic Response Group and Vice Squad. These demands, along with a detailed budget analysis, will be released next week in CPR’s FY23 NYC budget policy report.

“Our city’s approach to hate violence prevention is inadequate, inconsistent, and scattershot. The modern white nationalist movement has been expanding for five years, and we are four years into New York City’s current hate violence crisis," Leo Ferguson, Director of Strategic Projects at Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ). "Two mayoral administrations, two police commissioners, two Council speakers, and many other officials have proclaimed ‘zero tolerance.’ The city has spent tens of millions of dollars operating and expanding the NYPD hate crimes task force, and the number of bias incidents continues to go up and up. Our current strategy of policing and prosecutions is not working because it was the wrong strategy to begin with. Instead, we need to fully resource community-based prevention programs."

“As a Black, gender non-conforming student I feel threatened, not welcomed when I walk into my school greeted by metal detectors and police officers. We deserve to go to schools with resources that support us, prepare us for our future and encourage us to follow our dreams," Nia Morris (he/him), Youth Leader with Make the Road NY & the Urban Youth Collaborative."This means social workers, counselors, restorative justice, after school programs and more. It does not mean police. Still, the Mayor's budget plans to spend over $400 million this year on school police, including hundreds of new cops. It's time to listen to students. Do not hire a single new school cop. Invest in our future now and give us police free schools.”

“NYC’s resource must be put toward investing in the needs of LGBTSTGNC communities of color, not the NYPD and other institutions that criminalize, cause harm and have historically excluded our communities from accessing the services we need," Chauvet Bishop (she/her), Safe OUTside the System and 3rd Space core member at the Audre Lorde Project. "Audre Lorde Project members from across the city focus on creating healing and safety for queer and TGNC people of color, which is not the type of services or institutions that are receiving the largest portions of this proposed safety budget. We, as community members, work to keep each other safe by promoting community safety, de-escalation, advocated for housing equity and centered community wellness. The NYC budget needs to reflect these priorities that we know work and be allocated to fund efforts that uplift and fully support those most impacted in our city and our needs."

"The LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities we serve want an investment in services, education, health care and jobs that will create thriving and safe communities," Beverly Tillery (she/her), Executive Director of the NYC Anti-Violence Project. "We support the call urging City Council to cut at least $1 billion from the NYPD FY23 expense budget and reallocate it to key social service agencies and to community programs. Not only will this more effectively create the kind of public safety and public health solutions that we need, but put more simply - it is the right thing to do for our communities."