MANHATTAN — Hundreds of former and current staff members of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration rallied on Monday to demand immediate action on police reform.
Demonstrators gathered outside City Hall around 10 a.m. while de Blasio held a coronavirus briefing at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
While the mayor has outlined several steps to reform the NYPD since protests against police brutality and racial inequality began more than a week ago, protest organizers argue de Blasio can — and should — do more.
When asked about the protest on Monday, de Blasio said he spoke with his current staff on Sunday and pledged to work with them to enact police reform for the remaining 1 ½ years he is in office.
“We had a really good conversation yesterday and I intend to spend time with [my] staff. I want to hear their concerns and I want us all to work together,” de Blasio said.
The protesters are calling for a $1 billion reduction in the NYPD’s operating budget for the 2021 fiscal year and for the city to use that funding for housing support, rent relief, food assistance and other essential social services.
De Blasio on Sunday announced he would shift funding from the NYPD to youth and social services, however, he has not yet offered specific details on the amount of money or what programs would benefit.
The redirected funding is expected to be worked out through the city’s budget process over the next three weeks.
The demonstrators are also calling for the NYPD to fire all officers who were found to have used excessive force or were caught covering their badges during recent clashes between police and protesters.
The NYPD should also release the names and disciplinary records of personnel accused of excessive force and other misconduct that the department says is protected under the state’s Civil Rights Law 50-a, according to the protesters’ demands.
The state Legislature is expected to vote this week on a bill to reform to 50-a.
The protesters also called for a mandated two-thirds vote of the City Council to impose a citywide curfew and to approve the appointment of a new police commissioner in the future.
The mayor, meanwhile, said he doesn’t want New Yorkers to forget some of the “foundational changes” that have been made during his time in office, including bringing the incarceration population to its lowest number since World War II.
“But we have to do a lot more. Anyone who says they want to see police discipline move more quickly, they’re right. Anyone who says we need 50-a repealed in Albany, they’re right and I think it’s going to happen in the next day or two,” de Blasio added. “I said to my team we’re going to do that work. For a year-and-a-half were going to do it with incredible energy.”