FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | May 19, 2020 Contact: Yul-san Liem, firstname.lastname@example.org, 347.676.1878
Families demand the NYC Council pass a 2021 budget that prioritizes a just recovery from the coronavirus pandemic over policing and criminalization
New York, NY: Today, families whose ones were killed by the NYPD over the last two and a half decades called on the New York City Council to pass a 2021 budget that prioritizes a just recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by cutting the NYPD budget so that funds can go to needed infrastructure, programs, and services.
“To the Councilmembers who have marched with me or stood with any of the families here today, including Speaker Corey Johnson, we need you to honor our loved ones’ memories by fighting for a budget that prioritizes our communities,” said Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner. “We – the families – are calling on all councilmembers to make it clear that they will vote against any budget that doesn’t freeze hiring on the NYPD and make other big cuts so that we can save our social safety net and help our communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The mothers of Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez, Kimani Gray, Mohamed Bah, Kadeem Torres, and Kawaski Trawick, the mother and aunt of Sean Bell, the parents of Antonio Williams, and the sisters of Shantel Davis and Delrawn Small united for a virtual press conference during which they held #CutNYPDBudget and #NYCBudgetJustice signs and chanted.
They called for the City Council to pass a 2021 budget that includes an NYPD hiring freeze, including for School Safety Agenda, the cancelation of the new cadet class and the defunding of the NYPD for any role in mental health response and social service areas, such as homeless services and its “youth initiative”.
"We need to be providing guidance counselors, social workers, summer employment and other programs for our youth, not locking them up,” said Natasha Duncan, sister of Shantel Davis. “We need an NYPD hiring freeze instead of a DOE hiring freeze.”
“It’s not right for the City to pay the NYPD to kill people who need help and medical attention,” said Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah. “The NYPD should be removed completely as first responders to those in emotional distress. We need that money for mental healthcare. My son’s story is a clear example of this. Even though I pleaded with them not to, the NYPD forced their way into my son’s home and killed him. Everything was covered up. It took 6 years of fighting for the truth to come out. I don’t want anyone to go through what I suffered. My life changed completely because of this trauma.”
"The New York City Council should stand with the families,” said Gladys and Shawn Williams, parents of Antonio Williams. “Instead of putting money into hiring more cops, let's put that money towards affordable housing and services for our communities.”
Many of the families highlighted the millions of dollars the City pays out each year in salaries for the officers who killed their loved ones. According to calculations done by the Justice Committee, the grassroots organization that organized the press conference, NYC has paid over $13.7 million to keep the officers who killed their members’ loved ones on the police force since Mayor de Blasio took office. (This figure only accounts for the loved ones of families in the Justice Committee’s membership.)
"The NYPD’s budget is bloated by paying out the salaries of officers who take our loved ones’ lives and commit brutality and misconduct,” said Victoria Davis, sister of Delrawn Small. “This is completely unjust and a gross misuse of funds. Taxpayers are being forced to pay for these officers to continue to abuse Black and Brown New Yorkers. That money should go to housing, healthcare, youth programs, workforce development and other services our communities need.”
“These officers kill our loved ones and then they stay on the police force and get raises year after year,” said Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez. “Now the Mayor has proposed a budget that prioritizes the same NYPD that took our loved ones’ lives, while making cuts that choke our communities that are struggling even more because of the pandemic. We need the City Council to stand with the families: Cut the NYPD budget and give our communities the support they need.”
“We – the families – have decided that the budget should be for the enrichment of our communities, not for the wealth of the cops who kill us, abuse us, and disrespect us.” said Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell.”
The families were joined by Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso, Brad Lander, and Carols Menchaca who raised #StandWithTheFamilies signs.
“The tragic stories of families that have lost loved ones to police brutality serve as the guiding light in this year’s pursuit of a more just and equitable budget,” said Councilmember Antonio Reynoso. “There is no justice in a budget document that preserves the NYPD’s already inflated budget while strangling programs that serve our most vulnerable New Yorkers. The NYPD’s budget must be cut in FY21. It is the just thing to do and imperative to ending the vicious cycle of over-policing and criminalization in New York City.”
"We are going to have to make hard choices in the budget this year, but in one respect the choice is not so hard,” said Councilmember Brad Lander. “If we cannot afford to replace teachers, social workers, and counselors, then we cannot afford to hire new cops. We must do all we can to preserve funding for education and essential programs that support our young people, and ensure funding for the programs, infrastructure, and services to support the hardest-hit communities. I'm grateful to these families who have turned their grief into a call for accountability and an investment in a just recovery that we must not ignore."