Defunding the Hate Violence Prevention Initiative and Cutting Social Services by 20% Without Cutting the NYPD Budget is a Disgrace.
At the close of Pride month, amid protests against anti-Black police violence, an ongoing global pandemic, and a financial crisis; the New York City Council passed an austerity budget that cut essential funding from many progams serving LGBTQ Black and other people of color and failed to meaningfully divest from the NYPD. The New York City Council passed this budget despite calls to #DefundNYPD. Just days before this budget’s passage, police violently attacked protesters marching in the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives, pushing, beating, and using pepper spray against them toward the end of the march in Washington Square Park. This and many other incidents, starting with the Stonewall police rebellion in 1969, illustrate why LGBTQ people are fighting to #DefundNYPD.
The FY21 budget Council passed on June 30th includes devastating cuts to essential services for those most vulnerable — Black and other people of color communities — but no meaningful cuts from the NYPD FY21 expense budget. Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition of which AVP has been a voting member since it was founded in 2012, called for at least $1 billion to be cut from the NYPD and to be reinvested back into Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities which have been severely impacted by COVID-19. Instead, the FY21 adopted budget cut nearly 20% of discretionary funding that should go directly to community organizations serving marginalized New Yorkers, while protecting significant portions of the NYPD budget. For instance, while all other city agencies are experiencing a hiring freeze, the NYPD is expected to start training a new class of officers in the fall. And through a budgetary sleight of hand, funding for school safety officers was not cut but moved from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education. This budget cuts services and incentivizes over-policing of our communities; it represents dangerous steps backwards from our progress towards safety.
We acknowledge the nine NYC Council members who voted their conscience by voting no on the FY21 budget, recognizing that the NYPD cuts were achieved through budgetary tricks and not a real reduction to officer headcount, or any other meaningful change in priorities to protect vulnerable New Yorkers: Council Members Barron, Kallos, Lander, Menchaca, Reynoso, Rivera, Richards, Rosenthal, and Van Bramer.
The creative solution, the Hate Crimes Prevention Initiative, established in FY20, has been completely defunded in the FY21 budget. The initiative was conceptualized and advocated for by AVP along with eight other community-based organizations working across identities and communities. Jewish, Arab-American, Muslim, LGBTQ, and Black and Brown New Yorkers united to create community safety, working together to make New York safer through bystander/upstander education, reporting and support for survivors, rapid incident response, and restorative justice frameworks.
The initiative aimed to create pathways to communal responsibility and education — as opposed to police arrests for hate crimes — to address violence. It is unconscionable that the Council would cut such an initiative in a budget cycle when the need to prevent hate violence is so dire, as well as the imprative to end the escalating police violence against Black, brown, queer and trans communities.
AVP has supported the #DefundNYPD movement because the LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence we serve, especially Black people and trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people of color, have historically been profiled and targeted by law enforcement. In addition to the escalating police violence against LGBTQ people protesting, in daily life, police do not make our communities safer. Instead, they escalate and perpetrate violence against those most vulnerable, particularly when called upon to intervene with New Yorkers experiencing crises, like those related to mental health and homelessness, all of which disproportionately impact BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. AVP believes in a different approach to create safety, one that doesn’t include increased policing, but relies on communities to know what they need to be safe and receive the funding needed to implement creative solutions.
AVP opposes this budget which fails to decrease the size of the NYPD and its daily violent impact on LGBTQ people’s lives, whilst also delivering cuts to alternative safety programs and resources that actually help build a safer world for LGBTQ survivors of violence. We will continue to fight for resources for our community and #DefundNYPD.