Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday (June 7) pledged for the first time to cut New York City's police funding, following 10 nights of mass protests against police violence and mounting demands that he overhaul a department whose tactics have caused widespread consternation.
The mayor declined to say precisely how much funding he planned to divert to social services from the New York Police Department, which has an annual budget of US$6 billion (S$8.4 billion), representing more than 6 per cent of Mr de Blasio's proposed US$90 billion budget.
Mr de Blasio said the details would be worked out with the City Council in advance of the July 1 budget deadline.
"We're committed to seeing a shift of funding to youth services, to social services, that will happen literally in the course of the next three weeks, but I'm not going to go into detail because it is subject to negotiation and we want to figure out what makes sense," Mr de Blasio said.
As recently as Friday, Mr de Blasio expressed scepticism about cutting police funding, even as he noted that all city agencies might face cuts, absent more financial assistance from the federal government.
His Sunday morning reversal was one of two shifts in his stance towards protesters.
In the early morning, he announced on Twitter that New York City's first curfew since World War II would end effectively immediately, a day earlier than planned. He attributed the course correction to his belief that the protests had become more peaceful in recent days.
The mayor's announcement that he favoured the budget cuts represented the latest turn in his fraught relationship with the Police Department.
Mr de Blasio campaigned for the mayoralty in 2013 on promises of reforming the department, which had been embroiled in controversy over its aggressive use of stop-and-frisk in communities of colour.
He made his wife, who is African American, and his children central to his campaign. But by the time he took office, the use of stop-and-frisk had already fallen dramatically.
During his first year in office, Mr Eric Garner died in a police chokehold on Staten Island, and his final words, "I can't breathe", became a rallying cry for activists across the country.
Mr de Blasio tried to empathise with protesters, telling reporters that he had advised his son, Dante, "on how to take special care" during interactions with officers.
When, later that month, two police officers were fatally shot in Brooklyn while they were sitting in their patrol car, a police union leader said Mr de Blasio had blood on his hands. Police officers turned their backs to the mayor when he attended the officers' funerals - events that proved to be a turning point in the de Blasio administration, making the mayor more eager to accommodate the department.
Now, Mr de Blasio is facing a possible US$9 billion budget gap and significant unrest within his own administration over his handling of both the coronavirus crisis and the mass demonstrations following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Many protesters and observers have accused the Police Department of using violent tactics during the unrest while enforcing the curfew, which began on Monday.
On Saturday, dozens of employees at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice signed a statement demanding that Mr de Blasio support several policing reforms, including a ban on the use of chokeholds by police proposed by the City Council.
The legislation, which is believed to have a veto-proof majority in the Council, would criminalise the use of chokeholds by law enforcement, making it easier for district attorneys to prosecute infractions.
Mr de Blasio has resisted signing on to the measure unless it includes an exemption for officers in life-threatening situations. He did not address the issue in his announcement Sunday.
The statement from the criminal justice employees said the demonstrations in the streets mandated transformative change.
"As soon as the protests started, we felt such a disconnect, because we're supposed to be the ones out there figuring this stuff out, we want to effect change and make things better," said one of the letter's signatories, who wanted to remain anonymous to protect his job. "We were left leaderless."
That statement came on the heels of a letter on Wednesday, signed by hundreds of former and current staffers, demanding that de Blasio cut Police Department funding by US$1 billion.
In an apparent effort to quell rising internal unrest, on Saturday morning, Mr de Blasio sent an email to staff assuring them that he and his wife Chirlane McCray understand "how deeply this moment hurts".
"We are here for you," reads the letter, which was acquired by The New York Times. "We will never stop fighting for you. Black Lives Matter in New York City."
Mr de Blasio's assertion on Sunday that he would redirect some police funding was met with scepticism from both protesters and police leaders.
He paired the proposal with a handful of other ideas, including removing street vendor enforcement from the Police Department's purview. Advocates for vendors, many of whom are immigrants, have long accused the city of harassing the vendors. In November, police sparked a firestorm of criticism when they arrested a woman for selling churros on the subway.
He also affirmed his support for an effort to replace a state civil rights law known as Section 50-A, a law that his administration says requires it to protect the confidentiality of police disciplinary records.
It took five years for Mr de Blasio's police department to fire Mr Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put Mr Garner in a chokehold, after a police administrative judge found that the officer had violated a department ban on chokeholds.
Given that history, critics are sceptical that Mr de Blasio's vow to cut funding for the Police Department would amount to anything substantive, or that it came from the heart.
"I hope he's not trying to make it seem as if that was his calling," said Mr Anthony Beckford, president of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn, which has called for at least US$1 billion to be cut from the department. "That was basically one of our major demands, one of many, but we were specific on numbers."