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City Hall protesters celebrate with prosecco after $1bn NYPD budget cut

Protesters at City Hall toasted their victory with prosecco on Wednesday after the NYPD lost $1billion from their budget and failed to disperse crowds in the ‘Occupy City Hall’ campsite.  

Bottles of $8.99 prosecco were passed through the crowd at around lunch time to celebrate Tuesday’s city council vote which removes funding from the NYPD’s recruiting and overtime budgets. 

One person was not welcome at the party – the famous pro-Trump Naked Cowboy who ordinarily entertains tourists in Times Square. 

He was thrown out of the campsite by the protesters after arriving in underwear and holding a guitar that was covered in Trump stickers.  

The protesters are still not satisfied though. They want the department to be defunded even more or entirely abolished.   

Between 5.30am and 7.30am, officers cleared barricades surrounding ‘Abolition Park’ – the name the protesters have given to their camp – and tried to push back protesters who spilled over from the park and onto the street. 

The protesters had set up barricades on Chambers Street and Center Street to try to expand their ‘cop free’ zone but police removed them not long after the sun came up to allow traffic to pass through the area again.    

Three people were arrested before the situation calmed down again. The park continues to be occupied with protesters in tents and there are dozens of cops in riot gear surrounding it. It is unclear how long the protesters will be allowed to stay there. 

An NYPD spokesman told on Thursday that the protesters are allowed to remain in the park at present but that the situation was being constantly evaluated. 

The protesters are outraged that the NYPD has only been stripped of $1billion and not more, saying it needs to be entirely defunded or more heavily penalized. 

The cut, which comes amid a $9billion shortfall in city revenues due to coronavirus lockdown, will cancel the recruitment of 1,163 new officers, strip $484million from the overtime budget and transfer $354million to other services – including handing control of school safety officers from the NYPD to the Department of Education.

Democrats and protesters are unsatisfied with the cut and say more needs to be done. Police union chiefs, however, are warning that it could have a dangerous effect on officers’ ability to keep the city safe. 

Trump waded into the row on Wednesday morning, tweeting: ‘NYC is cutting Police $ by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the NYCMayor is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue. 

‘This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York & vividly remember the horrible BLM chant, “Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon”. 

‘Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. 

‘Spend this money fighting crime instead!’

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

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 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 to take over this city’. 

‘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.

On Monday, the George Washington statute in Washington Square Park was defaced by vandals who threw red paint on it. 

The NYPD is now hunting for the suspects who were seen throwing paint balloons at the monument then fleeing. 

President Trump tweeted about the incident and demanded the pair turn themselves in. 

‘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!’ Trump said. 

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