#De Blasio defends police amid calls to slash NYPD budget

De Blasio defends police amid calls to slash NYPD budget

June 5, 2020 | 1:34pm | Updated June 5, 2020 | 1:53pm

Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected growing calls to slash the police department’s budget as the Big Apple’s financial crisis deepens and outrage over the NYPD’s handling of post-curfew protests mounts.

“I do not believe it’s a good idea to reduce the budget of the agency that’s here to keep us safe,” de Blasio said Friday during his daily City Hall briefing.

“We got to be clear, the vast majority of working-class, middle-class New Yorkers, every single day, they want safety first,” he later told WNYC host Brian Lehrer.

“They associated that with the NYPD,” he added,” and they want the NYPD to be different and better.”

Civil rights activists and liberal council members have demanded that any budget deal struck between de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson slash at least $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6 billion annual budget.

Those calls to “defund” the police department have become a rallying cry at massive protests across the Big Apple in recent days as New Yorkers poured into the streets following the brutal in-custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota, complaining that years of local reforms have yet to yield significant changes in the NYPD.

Even before the protests exploded, top lawmakers on the City Council had already demanded the NYPD come up with a list of at least $300 million in budget cuts — outraged that de Blasio’s April budget proposal to tackle Gotham’s now-$9 billion deficit left the police largely untouched while slashing spending on popular social programs, like summer youth employment.

That scrutiny has only increased in recent days as the city’s police officers have repeatedly and aggressively broken up peaceful post-curfew protests, despite de Blasio promising, again and again, that those marches would be allowed.

Hizzoner and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea have awkwardly attempted to swat away days of questions about the disconnect between City Hall’s statements and police action by claiming that the reporters and photographers covering the protests simply aren’t observing “reality.”

When asked during his press briefing Friday what the rules were on when the NYPD would move to break up protests post-curfew, de Blasio attempted to argue the premise of the question.

“I watched with my own eyes for days now no use of force in peaceful protests that I was seeing with my own very eyes right there,” he said.

And when another reporter offered his firsthand observations of the tactics used at a peaceful Bronx protest that was aggressively shut down, Hizzoner claimed some protesters were plotting to become violent, and discounted the reporter’s observations.

“I believe that you believe what you’re saying,” he told the reporter. “I also believe that the information Commissioner Shea is putting forward is based on fact.”


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