Peace in our Streets
“I started my young adult years homeless. Those years taught me what it was to be harassed by police and jailed because I was too poor to pay bail. We need new systems of community safety"
READ TIME - Abstract: 1 min | Full: 4 min
Platform Abstract: For decades, New York has followed a failing and costly strategy of fighting “crime” with investments in new jails and an increasingly bloated NYPD budget. We give the NYPD $6 billion a year (not to mention $4 billion in pension and retirement costs) to tear gas protesters, forcibly carry out evictions, supercharge the school-to-prison pipeline, and occupy Black, brown, and immigrant communities.
But cops and jails do little to address the root causes of violence and harm in our communities. Eviction and homelessness is violence. Hunger is violence. Lead poisoning is violence. Underfunded schools are violence. Drug addiction is violence. Air pollution is violence. Incarceration is violence. Racist policing is violence.
Jonathan knows that the NYPD’s new weapons, invasive surveillance tools, and offices in foreign nations don't make our communities safer. We need a new approach to public safety — one that prioritizes solutions to poverty and invests in community-based safety programs which reduce violence without throwing thousands of young Black and brown people into jail. We need to strike at the root of these problems by guaranteeing quality housing, food, healthcare, a good education, a clean environment, and good-paying jobs for all New Yorkers.
In order to keep every New Yorker safe, we need to reinvest in NYCHA, affordable healthcare, green jobs, and community-based safety models like Cure Violence which actually reduce harm in our communities. We need to close down Rikers and commit to dramatically reducing the incarcerated population, create an elected Civilian Review Board to foster real accountability for police violence, and pay for costly police misconduct settlements with NYPD pension funds, rather than taxpayer dollars.
To learn more about the NYPD’s bloated and ineffective budget, watch this video.
1. Proactive Community Safety
New York taxpayers fund the NYPD to the tune of $10 billion a year — more than the Departments of Housing, Homeless Services, Community Development and Health combined. Despite this, there is not a strong correlation between the amount of police officers and a reduction in crime. After the racist stop and frisk policy was abandoned, less cops were on the streets — and violent crime continued its steady downward trajectory. In 2019, the NYPD’s union protested the firing of the officer who murdered Eric Garner by “slowing down,” and significantly scaling back their enforcement of low-level crime. Rather than demonstrating the NYPD’s importance, civilian complaints of crime dropped during their strike.
More cops do not equal less crime, but the presence of police does consistently lead to the harassment, brutalization, and incarceration of Black, brown, and immigrant communities.
On the contrary, community safety programs like Cure Violence and the Crisis Management System, and the provision of guaranteed housing, healthcare, food, and jobs actually work to make our communities safer. Jonathan will fight to defund the NYPD because he knows that violence is a public health issue — and the most safe community is a stable and healthy community. Jonathan believes in immediately cutting the NYPD budget in half — by $3 billion — and directing those funds towards systems of community safety, including existing programs like Cure Violence and new programs to handle mental health crises, addiction, homeless outreach and domestic violence with care, not cops. Defunding the NYPD will also free up money to fund the NYCHA repair backlog & expand social housing (you can read Jonathan’s full housing platform here); expand affordable, community-based healthcare; expand anti-hunger programs; create green jobs; and fund underfunded school districts.
Jonathan is committed to getting cops out of schools — where they disproportionately arrest and punish Black and brown students — and instead investing in smaller class sizes, youth counselors and violence intervention programs. Jonathan will fight to remove police from mental health emergency responses (from 2016-2019, fourteen mentally ill New Yorkers were murdered by police during a crisis), and end police involvement in homelessness outreach, drug emergencies, traffic enforcement, and public transit. Jonathan is also committed to demilitarizing the NYPD by refusing federal transfers of military-grade weapons and destroying existing military weapons under NYPD control. Jonathan will always stand with New York’s immigrant communities and advocate for cutting all city ties with ICE.
2. Reigning in Police Violence and Power
Jonathan has organized for years to bring the police under democratic control through an Elected Civilian Review Board.
The NYPD is wholly unaccountable to the citizens of New York who they act upon with impunity every day. When the NYPD is sued for its frequent misconduct, the taxpayers foot the bill. The city has shelled out more than $1 billion over the past five years to settle lawsuits on behalf of the NYPD. Officers who are the subject of these lawsuits are rarely disciplined, in large part due to the outsize influence of their unions (the Police Benevolent Association and the Sergeant Benevolent Association, or PBA and SBA). One study from the University of Chicago found that between 1996 and 2015, unionized police forces saw a 27% increase in police misconduct complaints.
As your City Councillor, Jonathan will continue to advocate for the Elected Civilian Review Board. He will fight to ensure that future police misconduct claims come out of the NYPD’s pension — not your wallet. He will work to disband the PBA and SBA — as well as units like Vice Enforcement Division and the Strategic Response Group, which have long histories of sexual abuse, corruption, and brutality against protesters. He will advocate for the end of the NYPD Gang Database and fight to drastically cut and cap NYPD overtime, which costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Jonathan will also fight to end the NYPD’s legal theft of New Yorker’s property through the asset forfeiture process.
To learn more about the NYPD’s practice of asset forfeiture, watch this video from the Bronx Defenders
3. Mass Liberation, not Mass Incarceration
“What they need to do is put all that cash to greater use like for better programs and more nicer and affordable housing for us LGBTs and homeless, low class people that is coming out of jails and prisons, cuz to keep it a billion with you, ALL US LGBT and others when we come out of prison and jail we have to go back to the same shit. We have no choice cuz they don’t give us a choice. The only choice we have is the streets and the JOB we know best.”
- Osha Oneeka Daya Da Goddess of Love, Incarcerated No New Jails Member
The “tough on crime” policies of the 1990s and 2000s were a disaster for Black, brown and immigrant communities. Our families and neighborhoods have been ripped apart by the brutal criminalization of marijuana, homelessness, and sex work. The hopes and dreams of poor New Yorkers like Kalief Browder have been lost or severely derailed due to a bail system which privileges wealth and punishes poverty.
Throwing thousands of disproportionately Black, brown, and immigrant residents in prison is not a solution to harm in our communities.
Jonathan believes in immediately closing Rikers and utilizing a community-led process to decide what to do with the land. He opposes all plans to replace Rikers with new jails, and supports using a fraction of the $11 billion earmarked for replacement jails to create a bail vouchers program to facilitate the release of incarcerated individuals. Along with this $11 billion, Jonathan supports the gradual defunding of the Department of Corrections, and the reinvestment of savings into community safety, NYCHA, green jobs, healthcare, education, and anti-hunger programs. Jonathan will also fight to decriminalize sex work, addiction and homelessness — while eliminating cash bail and pre-trial detention.