Black and Hispanic members of the New York City council are firing back at colleagues who support the movement to “Defund the Police,” calling the effort “white-led,” and an example of “political gentrification” and “colonization” — a “‘bourgeois liberal’ solution for addressing systemic racism,” per a report in The New York Times.
Councilmembers who represent minority districts say they aren’t supportive of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to strip $1 billion from the New York Police Department (NYPD), even if they are supportive of efforts to reform the police, restrict their use of force, and even reduce the number of law enforcement officers overall.
“Black and Latino council members representing both poor and middle-class communities of color, including Brownsville, Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens, wanted to take a measured approach to cutting the police budget,” the NYT says. “White progressives, allied with some Latino council members from gentrifying and racially mixed neighborhoods and two Black council members, called for more aggressive reductions and reforms.”
One black councilwoman described the efforts to the NYT “’colonization’ pushed by white progressives.” A black councilman from Brooklyn called the movement “political gentrification.”
The problem, they say, is many who are supportive of the movement to “Defund” police don’t have to live with the consequences. New York City is already experiencing a spike in violent crime and those who live in high-crime neighborhoods expect the situation to get worse if law enforcement is removed completely.
Some councilmembers say they’re being pressured to “defund” the police by people who don’t even live in New York.
“About a week after the Council’s vote, Councilwoman Diana Ayala, who represents East Harlem and the South Bronx, reflected on the movement to defund the police,” the NYT reported Monday. “She said that she had received thousands of emails in favor of it, but that most came from people who lived outside her district or in another state. She also said she had heard from about 60 callers from East Harlem who had voiced their support, and ‘half were white or new to the community.'”
Instead, city council members would prefer that the NYPD increase its transparency, limit what kinds of force officers can use, and reform its union.
Support for defunding the police is limited nationally. According to Gallup, only around 25% of Americans support stripping some funding from police departments. More than 30% of those polled actually felt that police departments don’t receive enough funding.
As of last week, even NYC mayor Bill de Blasio was torn on the issue. Although the city council voted to take $1 billion from the NYPD coffers and spread it to other agencies, the mayor has yet to sign the measure, even though the NYPD has a budget of more than $85 billion and a $1 billion decrease — that’s “largely cosmetic” according to the NYT — would make little difference in law enforcement.