There is not a single era in United States history in which the police were not a force of violence against black people. Policing in the South emerged from the slave patrols in the 1700 and 1800s that caught and returned runaway slaves. In the North, the first municipal police departments in the mid-1800s helped quash labor strikes and riots against the rich. Everywhere, they have suppressed marginalized populations to protect the status quo.
— Mariame Kaba, New York Times
What do we mean by defund the police? It’s a concrete demand to cut police funding in a way that meaningfully reduces their presence in our lives.
But it's not just to get rid of that funding, it’s a demand to re-invest it in our communities, so that we can be safe and thrive.
We know our communities are safe and can thrive when we have housing, healthcare, living wages, high quality education and public transit, and the resources and community-based services we need. That’s what New York City should be spending its money on, and that’s what we’re demanding.
Defunding the NYPD is just one step along the way to radically revisioning community and public safety. It’s the work of abolition. Envisioning a world in which instead of cops in schools, our young people have all of the resources and support they need, and their teachers do too. Envisioning a world in which instead of ticketing homeless people, every New Yorker has a safe, affordable place to sleep. Envisioning a world in which no Black people are ever killed by the cops, a world where no one is ever locked up or separated from their families, and a world with justice and freedom to thrive.
There are tons of amazing organizations working towards defunding the police and abolition. Make sure to check out:
There are also a number of amazing resources, and calls for defunding and abolition that have been put together by fellow abolitionists in NYC.
If you come across other resources, recommendations, and organizations to highlight here: feel free to send us a DM or email email@example.com
Creation of the NYC budget is an ongoing process, but each year’s budget has to effectively be agreed upon by July 1. This is a brief guide to what that process looks like, and how you insert yourself.
Keep in mind that the budget for every year is named by its end year, so even though right now we’re focusing on a budget that will start on July 1, 2020, this will be the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget, because it runs through June 30, 2021. So when you refer to budgets, remember the date they’re named with—e.g., FY21—covers July 2020 through June 2021.
The City’s budget goes across many documents, and is very hard to piece together. The City’s budget is separated into several parts:
The Mayor has the power to baseline, or commit funding for several fiscal years. Council has a pool of money, but its money mostly goes for “one shot” purposes, or for one fiscal year. Council can effectively “trade” money to the Mayor to get baselined.
A lot of the budget is a negotiation between the Mayor and City Council. The chief entity in Council that negotiates with the Mayor is called the Budget Negotiating Team, or BNT. Each member of Council also can give away one year grants to community organizations (discretionary member items), or support slightly bigger-ticket programs (called Initiatives).
BNT negotiations are pretty secretive. Some Council Members will tell you details about them; others are pretty close-lipped. Just because a Council Member is close-lipped about what’s going on in BNT doesn’t mean they’re being shady. They might just need to keep things quiet because they don’t want to overpromise, or, in the case of the Council Finance Chair, keep sort of a public stance of neutrality.
Though most of the activity for budget creation takes place from January through June, the budget process is truly year-round. Never stop fighting. Money can be added or cut at just about any time. Even after this budget is adopted, we have to immediately plan for deeper abolition action in the next budget cycle.
Though the City budget is hard to navigate, these documents and sources can be helpful for finding information:
Let us know if there are other resources and organizations we should highlight, or if you still have questions about police and prison abolition, the NYPD, or the NYC budget process that would be helpful to go into depth on.
Our DMs are always open, and you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org