Organizers Unveil Murals Redefining Safety and Investing in Communities
Today, Communities United for Police Reform, Color of Change, and Medicine Walls unveiled a series of five 8-foot by 20-foot murals that envision highlighting community demands to defund the NYPD and invest in Black, Latinx, and communities of color that have been historically defunded.
The Arab American Association of New York, Justice Committee, Make the Road New York, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and VOCAL-NY envisioned each of the murals, which were designed and created by artists Crystal Clarity, Victor A. Saint-Hilaire, Sophia Dawson, and Vincent Ballentine.
The murals are a visual representation of what NYC’s future could look like if the demands of the historic #NYCBudgetJustice campaign, made up of 200 organizations, were met and communities had the resources they needed to thrive. This year, the #NYCBudgetJustice campaign is demanding that Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council significantly reduce the NYPD’s bloated $6B budget and invest in Black, Latinx, and other communities of color, so all New Yorkers can thrive as the city transitions out of the pandemic.
The unveiling of the murals was marked by a celebration in The People’s Garden in Brooklyn, with speeches by the organizers behind the murals, musical guests, and local food vendors. The murals will eventually be permanently located in the neighborhoods that the community-based organizations serve.
Below are statements from the organizers, community groups, and artists about the mural unveiling and how these pieces of art are furthering the demands of the #NYCBudgetJustice campaign:
“The murals unveiled here today will be a permanent reminder to everyone who sees them that we must significantly reduce the NYPD’s bloated $6B budget, end police violence in New York City, and invest in the Black, Latinx, and other communities of color that have been historically defunded” said Ileana Mendez-Peñate (she/her), spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. “This is a community led art project that will reverberate throughout neighborhoods across the city and bring to life a future where all New Yorkers have the resources they need to be healthy, safe and to thrive.”
“These murals depict the future that New Yorkers want -- healthy and safe communities," said Erika Maye, deputy senior director of criminal justice and democracy campaigns at Color Of Change. “Time and time again, residents across the five boroughs have demanded non-violent, community-driven safety solutions. But despite broad demands for neighborhood investment, officials continue to fund aggressive policing, paramilitary equipment, and other tactics that threaten Black and Brown lives. As the City Council considers next year's budget, it must heed New Yorkers' demands and shift funding from bloated police budgets toward housing, healthcare, and other critical resources."
"After years of leading large scale murals around the City and also doing rapid response visual support for protests and street actions, we understood the power of visual culture in guiding the public around our struggles for justice, said Crystal Clarity (she/her), Founder / Creative Director and Muralist, Medicine Walls. “Medicine Walls partnered master artists including myself, Victor Saint-Hilaire, Sophia Dawson and Vince Ballentine with NYC movement leaders to imagine this radical future together—where we budget our values toward community health instead of policing—and present that vision to our communities. We hope it will inspire folks to take up more public space with radical imagination for the future we deserve.”
“Our students really tried to show all the different ways ICE affects their communities - it depicts NYPD surveillance of mosques, ICE raids, hoarding of resources - and it’s also very hopeful,” said Katy Giguere (she/her) Youth Organizer, Arab American Association of New York. “On the right side, it shows the other world that could be possible. There are schoolchildren with the resources they need, interfaith collaboration, signs for immigrant rights. We tried to depict the future we want to see.”
“Justice Committee’s mural will act as a collective thought space, creating dialogue around the Defund the NYPD movement,” said Marco Sabater (he/him), member, Justice Committee. “It is a tangible, visual and artistic representation of what divesting from policing and criminalization and investing in our communities means. We anticipate that the mural will bring more community attention to the Defund the NYPD movement, stimulating ideas on where money should be reinvested to support community needs.”
“For years, New York city youth have called for police free schools and the divestment of the School Safety Division’s entire $450 million budget and to reallocate those monies into guidance counselors, social workers, and restorative justice practices,” said Jocelyn P., Youth Leader, Make the Road. “Our demands and vision are made clear in the mural we're unveiling here today. Invest in students not cops.”
“Art can be a representation of what we know, imagine and believe,” said Sala Cyril (she/her), Lead Organizer, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “In our communities we know that we can keep ourselves safe; we imagine a world where we are resourced and safe without police terror; and we believe that we will win. To do that in NYC, we must defund the NYPD."
Last year, Communities United for
Now, communities are demanding a budget that invests in health & safety --- not more failed policing strategies. We are calling on the Mayor and City Council to:
- Cut at least $1Billion + from NYPD’s FY22 Expense Budget
- Redirect the savings of $2 Billion into community health & safety infrastructure & programs.
The mural project unveiled today was a collaboration of CPR, Color of Change, Medicine Walls, and CPR members, The Arab American Association of New York, Justice Committee, Make the Road New York, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and VOCAL New York. The mural project brings to life the future that New Yorkers can achieve if the City defunds the NYPD and invests in communities.
About Communities United for
Communities United for Police
About Color Of Change
Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and governments to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org
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