The group of about 100 protesters, calling themselves “Occupy City Hall,” gathered at a nearby park around 5 p.m. Tuesday and haven’t left. They have vowed to stay until their demand to slash one-sixth of the New York Police Department’s $6 billion budget is met.
The protesters say the money saved should be redistributed to social and community services as well as health care and education.
The city has until June 30 to finalize its entire budget, which includes money for the police department.
“Mayor (Bill) de Blasio has thus far rejected this demand, which is unconscionable,” VOCAL-NY, the group organizing the protest, said in a written statement. “We have questions about City Council promises to support our demands, because we have not seen their plan outside of a vague press release. We view this lack of transparency and specific public commitments as a red flag.”
A group of Black Lives Matter protestors congregate at City Hall across from One Police Plaza as part of the “Defund NYPD” and “Occupy City Hall” movement after spending the night on June 24, 2020 in New York City, United States.
(Anadolu Agency via Getty)
Protester Charles Khan told WLNY that he was “fighting for a drastic change to the way that this city says that it’s providing safety but hasn’t provided safety.”
“Strong communities make safe communities, and police don’t, and so that’s what we’re fighting for,” he said.
While most of the protests have been peaceful, there have been occasional flare ups between protesters and the police, local news outlets reported.
In those cases, both sides agreed to step back, avoiding injuries and arrests.
“If anything, we know that NYPD does not keep us more safe (sic),” protester Jonathan Lykes said. “They put us in more harm and more danger.”
In June, the NYPD reported 125 shootings, a number that was last reached in June 1996.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said it was impossible to keep people safe without having the resources available for law enforcement to keep criminals off the streets.
De Blasio, meanwhile, has said that the police budget would be reduced but he has not said by how much, leaving both the cops and the protesters in limbo.
“We need safety and we need justice,” he said. “We have to do both.”
In Philadelphia, 26 demonstrators were detained Tuesday following a similar protest over police funding.
Many of New York’s Occupy City Hall protesters have spent the last four weeks marching for police reform in the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. In that case, Floyd, a black man, died in police custody. His death triggered coast-to-coast protests against police brutality and systemic racism.