Washington Sq Park monument defaced as NYPD faces $1bn budget cut

New York City’s famous George Washington Monument in Washington Square Park was defaced with red paint on Monday as protesters gathered further downtown outside City Hall ahead of a controversial vote that could slash the city’s police budget by $1billion – 16 percent of its total – despite escalating crime and chaos. 

In the latest symbol of police defiance and unruliness across the city, the vandals tossed red paint at the famous George Washington monument on Monday then fled the scene, leaving city workers to try to power wash it off.

President Trump tweeted on Tuesday: ‘We are tracking down the two Anarchists who threw paint on the magnificent George Washington Statue in Manhattan. We have them on tape. They will be prosecuted and face 10 years in Prison based on the Monuments and Statues Act. Turn yourselves in now!’ 

At City Hall, protesters who have set up an Occupy City Hall camp clashed with police on Tuesday morning. The protesters have been there now for a week and are refusing to leave until the NYPD budget is cut by at least $1billion – something that is likely to happen on Tuesday.  

Mayor Bill de Blasio has reached an agreement with the city council that divests $1billion from the NYPD and cancels the hiring of 1,163 cops. Some Democrats say it is a step in the right direction and that the police force – like others across the country – needs to be stripped of its power and resources to combat systemic racism and excessive use of force. 

However others say it’s not enough of a hit to the mammoth force which enjoys a $6billion yearly budget. They want more money to be taken away, and say that much of De Blasio’s plan amounts to ‘gimmicks’. 

But others – namely the NYPD Commissioner and Police Benevolent Association, say the need for a strong and bolstered police force is greater now then ever before, amid bubbling tensions across the city and nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Combined with de Blasio’s lenient bail reform that putS more criminals on the street than before, and a court system that has been back-logged for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they say crime is inevitably on the rise and that slashing the budget is not necessarily the right move. 

There are also ongoing complaints that the NYPD is not cracking down on low-level crime like people breaching social distancing rules while dining outdoors, drinking in the street or being generally anti-social. 

In Brooklyn, residents have been terrorized for nights on end by illegal fireworks being set off through the night, seemingly with little intervention from the cops. 

 

Defaced: A statue of George Washington is covered in red paint after being vandalized in Washington Square Park in the early hours of Monday. America’s first president owned more than 100 slaves, making him a target of recent anti-racism protests

Target: The arch at Washington Square Park has two statues of the nation's first president, which were targeted by vandals throwing balloons in the early hours of yesterday morning

Target: The arch at Washington Square Park has two statues of the nation’s first president, which were targeted by vandals throwing balloons in the early hours of yesterday morning 

Clean-up: A member of the New York City Monuments and Conservation department power-washes the statue of Washington yesterday after it was vandalized

Clean-up: A member of the New York City Monuments and Conservation department power-washes the statue of Washington yesterday after it was vandalized 

City Hall hall has been vandalized with graffiti calling for the police department to be defunded on Tuesday morning. Other complaints were about rent

City Hall hall has been vandalized with graffiti calling for the police department to be defunded on Tuesday morning. Other complaints were about rent 

Graffiti at City Hall on Tuesday morning. Protesters have been there for a week now demanding the defunding of the NYPD. The vandals spray painted pigs and 'FTP' onto the building

Graffiti at City Hall on Tuesday morning. Protesters have been there for a week now demanding the defunding of the NYPD. The vandals spray painted pigs and ‘FTP’ onto the building

8474921 Protesters clash with cops ahead of NYC budget vote that will strip $1billion from the NYPD - as police unions say de Blasio has 'surrendered to lawlessness'

8474921 Protesters clash with cops ahead of NYC budget vote that will strip $1billion from the NYPD – as police unions say de Blasio has ‘surrendered to lawlessness’ 

Officers on Tuesday morning clashing with protesters outside City Hall as they tried to protect a barricade

Officers on Tuesday morning clashing with protesters outside City Hall as they tried to protect a barricade 

The city’s income took a $9billion hit when businesses shuttered at the start of the pandemic and now many remain closed.   

Traffic levels in the city aren’t predicted to return to their 2019 normal until November. 

Restaurant and retail traffic in New York City is currently 43.6 percent of the 2019 normal, whereas national traffic is at 53.2 percent of normal. Foot traffic from late-May to late-June in New York City increased roughly 18.3 percent, compared to the national increase of 27.7 percent, according to Zenreach data.

NYPD COMMISSIONER SAYS CUTS ARE ‘PUNITIVE’

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Tuesday that he understood every department must face cuts but that the decision had also been heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement and that it was ‘punitive’. 

He insisted that his officers ‘are not going to allow mob rule  

‘We’re all going to have to make cuts, we understand that, when you look at the fiscal crisis with COVID.

‘What concerns me is cuts that have to be made because of tough fiscal decisions vs cuts that could appear to be punitive. We’ll review all the numbers… it’s concern. It’s going to impact our ability, I believe, to keep New Yorker’s safe in some way, shape or form. But we’re also managers and it’s my job to make the most of the resources that we do have.

‘I don’t think anyone listening thinks that this is the climate right now doesn’t have an impact on what’s going on with the budget. I think that’s self-evident. It’s my job to make sure it doesn’t but we have to also take a look at what’s going on, cutting head count at a time of rising crime is going to be an extreme challenge for the men and women of this department,’ he said. 

Commissioner Shea went on to say that slashing the budget would harm communities of color the most because that is where there is most violence.  

‘It’s going to impact our patrol strength, our training, and it’s probably going to impact people of color more than anyone else. We know where the violence occurs in this city,’ 

‘My job is to make sure we are as efficient as possible, we’re doing everything can to keep New Yorkers safe… we’re going to have to be creative,’ he said. 

Over the last week, there has been a ‘significant uptick’ in crime across the city. 

Shea said it was down to a combination of bail reform and a back-logged court system. 

He questioned why the courts still weren’t operating because of COVID when thousands were being encouraged to protest peacefully against the police. 

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Tuesday that he understood every department must face cuts but that the decision had also been heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement and that it was ‘punitive’. 

He insisted that his officers ‘are not going to allow mob rule  

‘We’re all going to have to make cuts, we understand that, when you look at the fiscal crisis with COVID.

‘What concerns me is cuts that have to be made because of tough fiscal decisions vs cuts that could appear to be punitive. 

‘We’ll review all the numbers… it’s concern. It’s going to impact our ability, I believe, to keep New Yorkers safe in some way, shape or form. 

‘But we’re also managers and it’s my job to make the most of the resources that we do have.

‘I don’t think anyone listening thinks that this is the climate right now doesn’t have an impact on what’s going on with the budget.

‘I think that’s self-evident. 

‘It’s my job to make sure it doesn’t but we have to also take a look at what’s going on, cutting head count at a time of rising crime is going to be an extreme challenge for the men and women of this department,’ he said. 

Commissioner Shea went on to say that slashing the budget would harm communities of color the most because that is where there is most violence.  

‘It’s going to impact our patrol strength, our training, and it’s probably going to impact people of color more than anyone else.

‘We know where the violence occurs in this city,’ 

‘My job is to make sure we are as efficient as possible, we’re doing everything can to keep New Yorkers safe… we’re going to have to be creative,’ he said. 

Over the last week, there has been a ‘significant uptick’ in crime across the city. 

Shea said it was down to a combination of bail reform and a back-logged court system. 

He questioned why the courts still weren’t operating because of COVID when thousands were being encouraged to protest peacefully against the police. 

Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the PBA, said: ‘Mayor de Basio’s message to New Yorkers today was clear: you will have fewer cops on your streets. 

‘Shootings more than doubled again last week. 

‘Even right now, the NYPD doesn’t have enough staffing to shift from one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe.

‘We will say it again: the Mayor and the City Council have surrendered the city to lawlessness. Things won’t improve until New Yorkers hold them responsible.’ 

De Blasio defended the budget and said it would be down to good leadership from police bosses to keep people safe. 

He said his focus was on helping young people. 

‘Our young people have experienced something we would never have wished on them. We need to uphold them and help them through this moment in history. 

‘They’re going to inherit this city… our young people need to be reached. Not policed. We need to figure out how to nurture and support them,’ he said. 

A huge crowd of protesters outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. Some have been there for days as part of a #OccupyCityHall protest

A huge crowd of protesters outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. Some have been there for days as part of a #OccupyCityHall protest 

Protesters outside City Hall in Manhattan on Tuesday demanding that the police department be defunded

Protesters outside City Hall in Manhattan on Tuesday demanding that the police department be defunded 

Protesters meditating at the Occupy City Hall site on Tuesday morning ahead of the city council vote

Protesters meditating at the Occupy City Hall site on Tuesday morning ahead of the city council vote 

The Brooklyn Bridge City Hall subway station has now been covered in protest signs calling for the NYPD to be abolished

The Brooklyn Bridge City Hall subway station has now been covered in protest signs calling for the NYPD to be abolished 

People at the NYC 'Abolition Park' outside City Hall on Tuesday

People at the NYC ‘Abolition Park’ outside City Hall on Tuesday 

Protesters shelter under tents and umbrellas during their standing protest in New York City yesterday where demonstrators are demanding cuts to police funding

Protesters shelter under tents and umbrellas during their standing protest in New York City yesterday where demonstrators are demanding cuts to police funding 

The protesters have declared an 'autonomous zone' and a 'no-cop zone' in an echo of the ongoing 'occupation' in Seattle

The protesters have declared an ‘autonomous zone’ and a ‘no-cop zone’ in an echo of the ongoing ‘occupation’ in Seattle 

A group of protesters make their way to the Occupy City Hall 'autonomous zone' in New York City on Monday night

A group of protesters make their way to the Occupy City Hall ‘autonomous zone’ in New York City on Monday night

At City Hall, the group of protesters have been there for a week.  

CRIME SPIKING IN NYC 

– 38 murders over the last 28 days, twice as much as the same period last year 

– 159 murders, 25% higher than last year

– 394 shootings this year, a 24% increase last year

 – 1,691 burglaries last month compared to 759 last year

– Burglaries up by 47% since start of the year compared to last year 

– Grand larceny up by 60% (3,078 incidents happening this year, up from 1,893 at this point last year) 

‘We’ve done different levels of escalation to make sure we’re getting their attention,’ said Jonathan Lykes, one of the movement’s organizers.

‘If they defund the police by $1 billion then we have won – but that’s only our demand this week.’ 

At the protest a makeshift ‘People’s Library,’ assembled under a tent, promotes ‘radical literature’ while a nearby ‘bodega’ features free donated food and protective gear to protesters.  

Speakers announced ‘de-arrest training’ sessions and reinforced the expectation that residents of the space look after one another.

‘We want racial injustice to end, and the means is that we stay here right now in this space,’ said Manny, who addressed the crowd but declined to give his last name. 

‘It’s very clear that people want to stay past Tuesday and that people want to see police and prison abolition.’

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in New York City because of the coronavirus, but those rules have been ignored by protesters for weeks and police have not moved to enforce them. 

NYPD CUTS  AND WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING

$1billion stripped from NYPD 

 – Overtime 

–  July police academy

–  Contracts and non-personnel expenses

Where it’s going; 

$116m education

$115m summer youth programming

$143m family and social services

$450million for NYCHA and Parks and youth recreation centers 

$97m on NYCHA Broadband expansion 

Lykes said the occupation has made the NYPD ‘nervous,’ recalling a string of minor confrontations that were resolved without arrests. He differentiated the peaceful assembly in Lower Manhattan from a weeks-old occupation in Seattle that has seen episodes of violence.

‘We have an uprising and one of the largest we’ve seen since the death of Martin Luther King,’ he said. 

‘These are the worst of times but the best of times as far as an opportunity to change.’ 

The idea of slashing the NYPD’s budget, now around $6 billion annually for operations, seemed politically laughable even a year ago with memories of 9/11 and the high-crime decades of the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s still fresh.  

Last weekend alone, as many as eleven people were shot in a period of less than 12 hours across Saturday night and into Sunday morning, in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. Murder is also up 25 percent in the city in comparison to this time last year. 

Earlier this week, several officials warned that any drastic cuts to the NYPD would set the city back 30 years in its efforts to control crime – jeopardizing public safety in a negative impact that ‘would be felt in every neighborhood citywide,’ a law enforcement source told the Daily News.

‘A $1 billion cut to the NYPD’s operating budget would set the city back three decades and severely compromise the significant progress the NYPD has made in keeping crime at historic lows and New Yorkers safe.’

A series of slogans are displayed at the Occupy City Hall protest, including more than one demand to 'defund the NYPD'

A series of slogans are displayed at the Occupy City Hall protest, including more than one demand to ‘defund the NYPD’ 

Protesters display a series of slogans including Black Lives Matter and 'abolish the police' at the Occupy City Hall protest

Protesters display a series of slogans including Black Lives Matter and ‘abolish the police’ at the Occupy City Hall protest 

That view is one shared by Bruce Backman, a New York-based research consultant and member of the Re-Open New York coalition, who told DailyMail.com the city is balancing on the precipice of disaster – leaving it just ‘two years away from becoming like Detroit’.

‘The city of New York has never been worse than it has been in the last three months and it’s getting worse by the day,’ Backman said. ‘It’s not just coronavirus, its riots, looting, murders, fireworks and burglaries.’

‘Once they know New York is on the run, this will incur more crime,’ Backman continued. ‘Go into any of the poorer neighborhoods of New York and ask those who live there if they want less law enforcement on the street.

‘I’m pretty sure the answer is not what the mayor thinks it is,’ he said. ‘This is not the time to decrease funding, this is bad public policy.’ 

Owner of American Home Hardware and More, Felix Atlasman, echoed Backman’s sentiments in an interview with DailyMail.com Monday. 

Atlasman detailed how his neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen has been plagued by a dangerous crime spree in recent weeks. 

Amid suggestions New York City could be heading back to its crime ridden days of the 1980s, Atlasman insisted ‘we’re already back there’.

‘My best selling item used to be light bulbs, now it’s pepper spray,’ said Atlasman, who opened the hardware store in 1955. 

‘When I call the police they arrive two hours later and then ask me which way [the shoplifter] went.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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