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De Blasio pledges to shift funding from NYC police to social services

De Blasio pledges to shift funding from NYC police to social services
© Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioUS records over 14 million coronavirus cases New York City positivity rate above 5 percent, highest level since May NYC mayoral contender challenges New York Times for defining candidacy by marijuana use MORE (D) on Sunday pledged to cut funding for the New York Police Department and reallocate it to youth and social services as calls for reforming law enforcement agencies grow in response to the death of George Floyd. 

The call to "defund the police" and invest in other public services has become a top demand among activists in cities across the U.S. as they speak out against police brutality and racial injustice. 

De Blasio said during a press conference Sunday that the city would move funding from the New York Police Department to youth initiatives and social services in its next budget. He did not say how much he plans to divert from the police department, which has an annual budget of $6 billion, or more than 6 percent of de Blasio's proposed fiscal 2021 budget, The New York Times noted

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"The details will be worked out in the budget process in the weeks ahead," de Blasio said. "But I want people to understand that we are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people."

"I also will affirm, while doing that we will only do it in a way that we are certain continues to ensure that this city will be safe," he added. 

The announcement came just hours after de Blasio said a citywide curfew would no longer be in effect. The mayor said the end to the policy stemmed from protests being largely peaceful in the city over the weekend. 

Funding for police departments has become a major source of tension among protesters following the death of Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Many have called for diverting those funds and investing them in other social services in certain communities.  

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City leaders in San Francisco and Los Angeles have responded to recent demonstrations by pledging to cut funding for the police. Members of the City Council in Minneapolis have called for dismantling the police department entirely. But Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) voiced opposition to that stance on Saturday, prompting protesters to demand he leave a demonstration. 

In New York City, dozens of employees at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice signed a statement demanding that de Blasio endorse a list of policing reforms, according to the Times. Hundreds of former and current de Blasio staffers also sent an open letter to the mayor calling on him to cut the New York police budget by $1 billion. 

Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, a police union, told the Times that he was skeptical of de Blasio's pledge. 

“I know he just recently said that he wasn’t going to that,” Mullins said. “I guess, let’s see what he says on Monday and what his next decision is going to be.”

The "defund the police" movement has sparked a polarizing debate over what its goals are. Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza addressed that question on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday, noting that "when we talk about defunding the police, what we're saying is invest in the resources that our communities need.'"

"Why can't we start to look at how it is that we reorganize our priorities so people don’t have to be in the streets protesting ... in a global pandemic?" she added.