Community Groups and Elected Officials Demand Charges Dropped Against New Yorkers Violently Arrested by NYPD at Protest Calling for Cuts to Bloated NYPD Budget
New York, NY - Today, community organizations and elected officials from across the city packed the court to support community members who were violently arrested while trying to keep people safe during a May 24th rally and march to protest the Mayor’s budget cuts to essential programs and services while he continues to expand funding and resources to police and corrections.
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) members and partners were joined by NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Councilmembers Tiffany Cabán and Carmen De La Rosa to denounce the NYPD’s targeting and hyper-aggressive policing of protests, call for all charges to be dropped for the four community members arrested, and urge the City Council hold the NYPD accountable for their abusive tactics by reigning in their out-of-control behavior and budget.
On May 24, 2023, CPR, along with over 50 organizations, held the Care Not Criminalization march, mobilizing hundreds of New Yorkers to call for cuts to the NYPD’s bloated budget so that increased funding can be directed to services and infrastructure that communities need for true wellness and safety. In response to the protest, the NYPD deployed a massive police presence, including the notoriously abusive Strategic Response Group (SRG), moped units and hundreds of officers, that intimidated and harassed protestors and arrested four community volunteers who were working to keep people safe.
"The SRG proves once again that they are a rogue unaccountable squadron. A beautifully diverse, multi-racial, multi-generational group of New Yorkers took to the streets to protest well documented police violence, only to be met with more police violence. Let this outrageous display help you make up your mind: it is time to disband the SRG and redeploy its funds to evidence-based public safety strategies," stated Tiffany Cabán, NYC Council Member, District 22.
“The police response to this beautiful, powerful, multigenerational, multiracial march is a prime example of exactly why we were marching,” said CPR spokesperson Salma Allam, Coalition Organizer with the Arab American Association of New York and CPR member. “Mayor Adams has repeatedly cut millions of dollars in funding for critical services - from housing, health, education and more – that are the lifelines for health and safety in our communities. At the same time, he is funneling over $12+ billion to expand policing and boost the power of the NYPD that discriminatorily targets and abuses New Yorkers. The NYPD is out of control, acting violently with impunity and making our city less safe for those of us who live here.”
During the march, in a return to Giuliani era-style police tactics, the NYPD intimidted, yelled at, pushed, and tackled community members, and recklessly used motorized scooters to corral people who were marching on the sidewalk and attempting to cross the street as directed. The NYPD violently arrested four volunteers, who were trying to keep the march together and safe while crossing at a crosswalk. At least two volunteers had to seek medical attention due to the brutality of the officers, and all four sustained injuries.
“Make the Road NY stands in solidarity with community members who were arrested on May 24th and impacted by the police’s violence and repression at the Care not Criminalization march,” stated Mateo Guerrero-Tabares, TransJustice and Leadership Program Manager and one of the community members arrested at the march. “We remain undaunted in our demand that the Mayor and City Council invests in community care and community support by increasing funds for school counselors, legal services, adult literacy, health access for trans and queer New Yorkers, sex workers, and more. To fund our communities, our city can and should substantially reduce the size and scope of the NYPD by moving funds from the NYPD, starting by cutting outrageous overtime expenses and eliminating the notorious SRG, Vice, and school policing units.”
"Without regard for the safety of children, elders, people with disabilities and other New Yorkers crossing the street on the crosswalk, the NYPD without warning, drove their motor scooters into us, began threatening us, and released traffic while we were still crossing," said Loyda Colon, Executive Director of the Justice Committee. "The NYPD created a dangerous situation and then arrested people that were simply trying to survive their unwarranted assault. We demand all the charges against those arrested be dropped and that the City Council intervene during this budget cycle by divesting from dangerous units like the Strategic Response Group and re-directing those funds to our communities."
“New York City cannot have a thriving and inclusive future if Mayor Adams and the NYPD suppress youth voices that speak out against budget cuts that would further harm our already under-resourced communities,” said Marco A. Carrión, Executive Director of El Puente. “El Puente’s youth leaders for peace and justice serve New York City by advocating for their families and communities on essential issues, including education, the environment and public safety. We believe this city should be engaging and empowering young people, not discouraging their leadership through bullying and intimidation.”
The NYPD has a long history of discriminatory enforcement and violence against New Yorkers who speak out against their unchecked abuse of power. Advocates are calling for the New York City Council to hold the NYPD accountable for these brutal tactics by divesting from the SRG, a unit that the city is spending over $133M on in the next fiscal year, and other abusive units and instead, invest in services, infrastructure and non-police safety solutions for all New Yorkers.
"The Mayor and City Council must disband the militarized Strategic Response Group that has been responsible for brutally suppressing protest, replace unsuitable law enforcement with trained public health workers as the first responders to mental health emergencies, and build a social safety net that centers services and supports, not handcuffs. Budgets are moral documents, and this budget prioritizes criminalization over community care while funding for services that support real public safety - like housing, public education, and mental health support - are overlooked. It’s time to stop bloating the NYPD’s coffers and reimagine what keeps communities safe and secure," said Isabelle Leyva, senior organizer at the NYCLU.
“The Arab American Association of New York is beyond proud of our staff and everyone at the Care Not Criminalization March two weeks ago who put their bodies on the line in support of our communities and in the face of unwarranted aggression by the NYPD – including one of our own, who was arrested by NYPD’s Strategic Response Group (SRG),” stated Marwa Janini, Executive Director of AAANY. “We are enraged that our mayor and dozens of city council members want to increase the city’s police budget – and for what? So the cops can arrest New Yorkers as they exercise their fundamental right to protest? So they can harass working class neighborhoods and communities of color? AAANY and our allies are going to pack the courtroom in support of all of the arrested protesters, and we hope New Yorkers everywhere will join us in our fight for meaningful police reform, the disbandment of the SRG, and large-scale reinvestment in communities, not cops.”
“New Yorkers marched in support of a budget that reflects care not criminalization, and the NYPD responded by arresting peaceful protesters,” said Jennvine Wong, Staff Attorney for Cop Accountability Project, Special Litigation Unit at Legal Aid Society. “We echo the demands of thousands of New Yorkers for a budget that supports our communities through increased funding for education, housing, mental health support, and other essential community services. And those demands will not be silenced by abusive police practices.”
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.Topics: NYC Budget Justice