Abolitionist Mariame Kaba famously stated, “Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.” Following her words, I can only comprehend what we have endured in 2020 as a calling to radicalize, to rethink ineffective public safety policy and to revitalize our communities by defunding the police.
NYC Budget Justice
A rallying cry
After the death of George Floyd in May, protests erupted calling for an end to police brutality all across New York – and the rest of the country.
WASHINGTON (SBG) - In the wake of nationwide calls to defund the police, government officials in several major U.S. cities have made significant cuts to their local police budgets, part of a sweeping police reform effort sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The movement to defund police departments began in Minneapolis shortly after Floyd's death in late May. Two months later, the Minneapolis City Council moved $1.1 million out of the police department's budget, according to MPR News.
Eight years before Daniel Prude – a Black man experiencing a mental health crisis – died after being detained by police in Rochester, Hawa Bah watched a similar situation play out with her own son, Mohamed, in New York City. In 2012, Hawa Bah, a Guinean immigrant, called 911 for an ambulance to help her son, who had been acting erratically. New York City Police Department officers arrived at his apartment and eventually shot Mohamed Bah eight times, killing him. Police said Mohamed Bah lunged at one officer with a knife.
The New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio crafted an $88.2 billion budget for the current fiscal year in what was one of the most contentious budget negotiations in years, coming amid a pandemic-caused recession and a resurgent racial justice movement that sought to “Defund the NYPD” and redirect some of its massive resources to social services in communities of color.
In the days after the killing of George Floyd, an extraordinary wave of mass protests erupted across the US, with demonstrators setting fire to police buildings and cars, shutting down freeways and bridges and storming city halls and neighborhoods.
Amid familiar chants of Black Lives Matter, a new slogan emerged: “Defund the police.”
In May, just days after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, Lieutenant Bob Kroll, the bellicose leader of the city’s police union, described Floyd as a violent criminal, said that the protesters who had gathered to lament his death were terrorists, and complained that they weren’t being treated more roughly by police. Kroll, who has spoken unsentimentally about being involved in three shootings himself, said that he was fighting to get the accused officers reinstated. In the following days, the Kentucky police union rallied around officers who had fatally shot an E.M.T.
In the 18 days after the death of George Floyd, 16 states introduced, amended, or passed various police-reform bills.
We looked at what protesters are asking for and what changes have actually been implemented. While a handful of new policies met demands, most local officials and law enforcement agencies failed to fulfill expectations.
Defunding law enforcement
Lentory Johnson knows what "defund the police" means to her — and she has a perspective based on a deeply personal experience.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio said in late April that he was creating a task force to lead a “fair recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic, nestled in his announcement was a brief statement that he also intends to call another Charter Revision Commission. But the mayor hasn’t yet convened that commission, which would be the third to be created while he has been mayor, the second by him alone, and hasn’t explained his rationale for it.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was having a blast: One month after securing an uncertain victory that catapulted him toward the apex of New York’s political pyramid, he joined the morning crew at Fox5 for an impromptu, televised dance party as the Groundhog Day weather segment wound down.
He seemed to be sending New Yorkers a message: With boundless energy and joy, he would embody qualities Mayor Bill de Blasio — somber on the lightest of occasions — does not.