The New York Police Department says there were 250 victims of shootings across the city between June 1 and June 28—an increase of nearly 160 percent from the same period last year, and the largest number for that four-week time frame since 1996.
The jump in gun violence comes amid protests and riots sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, while he was being arrested in Minneapolis in May. The demonstrations have at times turned violent, fueled by Marxist and anarcho-communist radicals such as Antifa and organizers of Black Lives Matter.
Floyd’s killing put pressure on governments to scale back the use of force by officers and enact other reforms, leading New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce plans to cut $1.5 billion in funding from the NYPD, angering the local police union. The City Council agreed on June 30 to reallocate $1 billion from the NYPD budget.
“Even right now, the NYPD doesn’t have enough staffing to shift cops to one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a June 29 statement.
“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.”
The budget cut is partly due to revenue shortfall caused by the economic shutdown imposed by the city and state in response to the CCP virus epidemic.
Officially, gatherings of 10 or more people are still banned in the city, although the local government hasn’t enforced that against protesters; in fact, the mayor and other local politicians have cheered them on.
On June 28, the union posted a video on Twitter of an NYPD car being pelted with what looked like bottles and trash thrown from a crowd in the streets.
“Police officers responding to a shots fired job in Harlem last night were met with this,” the union commented, saying de Blasio and the City Council “should be held responsible for surrendering our city.”
The mayor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
The City Council acknowledged in a statement that about $500 million in NYPD funding will de facto only move on paper, such as by moving school safety officers from the NYPD to the Department of Education.
The budget talks have been accompanied by hundreds camping out in protest in City Hall Park and demanding police defunding.
Organizers have called it “Occupy City Hall”—a nod to the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement a few blocks away in Zuccotti Park.
The group directed its demands—scrawled on colorful placards, a canvass of graffiti, and a massive poster taped over a subway entrance—at de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“We’ve done different levels of escalation to make sure we’re getting their attention,” said Jonathan Lykes, one of the organizers. “If they defund the police by $1 billion, then we have won—but that’s only our demand this week.”
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) denounced the NYPD cuts.
“Billion $ cut to NYPD Budget is indefensible. Shootings are up. Police do great job. War against cops increases. Main victims will be innocent, hardworking people in minority communities. Time to stand with Men and Women in Blue!!” he said in a July 1 tweet.
For Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) the cuts don’t go far enough.
“Defunding police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math,” she said in a statement, Fox News reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.