New York passes budget with police cuts but AOC says it doesn’t go far enough

Campaigners accuse city authorities of moving funding to other departments 

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 01 July 2020 11:01 BST
AOC says 'No amount of money can buy a movement'

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has condemned budget cuts to New York City’s Police Department (NYPD) saying it does not meet protesters’ demands over defunding.

“These proposed ‘cuts’ to the NYPD budget are a disingenuous illusion”, said Ms Ocasio-Cortez in a statement. “This is not a victory.”

The Democrat’s comments on Tuesday came as New York City’s Council voted to pass the 2021 police department budget, which included an almost $484 million cut.

Critics complain that more than $350 million from those savings will be relocated to other city departments, including New York’s Department for Education.

That will see continued payments to police stationed outside schools, when activists have advocated for their removal.

“Defunding police means defunding police,” said Ms Ocasio-Cortez. “It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools”.

The 2021 plans, which Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed after tense negotiations with the City Council, also failed to meet demands for more extensive measures.

Two hundred community groups said on Tuesday that their demands were still not being met after they called on Mr de Blasio to slash $1 billion (£808m) from the NYPD budget.

“Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson are using funny math and budget tricks to try to mislead New Yorkers,” said Anthonine Pierre, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, in a statement.

“Moving police from the NYPD to other agencies does nothing to reduce police violence,” he added.

Ms Ocasio-Cortex added on Tuesday that “the fight to defund policing continues” because communities had demanded less police on the streets – not reallocated police budgets.

The debate over the NYPD budget comes as New York City authorities manage a $9 billion (£7.3b) shortfall in revenue caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Authorities across the US have also been under pressure to defund or abolish police departments after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man, on 25 May.

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