July 1, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jawanza Williams, 917-488-4961, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor de Blasio and City Council Pass Budget to Maintain Police Power Over Black and Brown Communities
In the Face of Mass Social Uprising, Leaders Fail to Defund Police and Deliver Investments to Communities
New York City (June 30, 2020) – In response to the passage of the New York City FY2021 budget, VOCAL-NY released the following statement attributable to Jawanza Williams, Director of Organizing:
“We are outraged by the Mayor and City Council’s passage of a budget that fails to reduce the NYPD’s budget by at least one billion dollars. We are appalled by our leaders’ deceptive decisions, the lack of transparency in government, and stonewalling in the face of a national reckoning of racial injustice and police violence. We are horrified by the police violence against protestors peacefully protesting at City Hall and the on-going, unaccountable police violence in our communities.
But we are not surprised or deterred. Our fight to end police violence and reduce the NYPD’s power over our communities goes back two decades. We have long fought to cut the NYPD’s budget for stop-and-frisk and racialized enforcement of laws, to end the policing of homeless New Yorkers, to end the war on drugs and to divest from criminalization and invest in housing and care. The fight has never been just about “defunding.” Our goal has always been about winning major investments in our members’ lives and their communities – people who use drugs, experience homelessness, are living with HIV/AIDS, and/or have been policed and incarcerated.
After today, Black and Brown communities will bear the consequences of a budget that maintains police power in New York City, and underfunds long-neglected communities that have now also been hit hard by the coronavirus. Our elected leaders are to blame for that. But our movement has grown profoundly in the last weeks, and there’s no going back. New York City needs a radical economic and political shift to tackle the intersecting issues of poverty, public health, homelessness, and incarceration. This means reimagining what public safety means. It means identifying all the social problems that have long been policed rather than solved through community investments like permanent housing for the homeless or wrap-around harm reduction services for people who use drugs.
We are proud of our role in helping to launch a week-long encampment at City Hall. But most of all we are humbled by the movement that has and will continue to grow long after today’s vote.
As one of the organizers of the encampment, I believe the most important outcome of all, is that millions more understand abolition of police and prisons and reinvestment in our communities, as the only way to affirm that Black lives matter.”