Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) doubled down on her support for calls to “defund the police,” Thursday night despite the fact the slogan has cost many Democrats in losing their races last week.
During a virtual town hall on her congressional Facebook page, Ocasio-Cortez was asked by a 14-years old to personally define the meaning of “defund the police,” a question that lightened her face to respond in which she didn’t double down on.
“What I think it means to me is that I believe that the path towards justice is a long arc, and that it happens in steps and I believe that this call for me personally, is a step to build a world where we are safe in more than one way,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And that safety is not just an officer with a badge and a gun, but that safety is also a mental health worker that shows up when you’re in crisis.”
She continued defining what the slogan means to her, responding to the teenage girl with fictitious statements that local city and states invest the majority of its budget to police expenses rather than investing in “critically important issue.” Using examples of the NYPD budget, the progressive lawmakers complained about how its $6 billion a year budget is blown up to $11 billion while alleging it goes unchecked that “becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“This is a city issue, but it is one that I’m free to be honest in my opinions about, although I don’t have a vote over,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Our budget is too high. We have a $6 billion NYPD budget that goes up to $11 billion when you include other you know NYPD related expenses. And that is more than our city’s spends on housing, health care, and one other critically important issue combined and I think that sometimes these investments get to a point where they become a self-fulfilling prophecy where you know, not even three years ago did we have a $6 billion dollar police budget. Not even five years ago did we have a $6 billion police budget.”
According to NYC City Council, NYPD’s proposed fiscal year 2020 operating budget spending was $5.6 billion that went towards personnel for it’s 36,000 uniformed officers ($3.1 billion) and 15,000 civilian position ($757 million) as well as including overtime ($600 million) and shift differentials (officers who work midnight shift).
When it comes to the additional $5.4 billion that progressive cry afoul in saying the NYPD budget is $11 billion covers the capital expenses which are larger long-term investments. It includes fringe benefits, pensions, debt service agency, and judgment and claims account. This is not part of the operating expenses and not added in part of the NYPD budget cost.
Looking back to the NYPD budget that Ocasio-Cortez claims the budget for officers wasn’t $6 billion showed that it was $1 billion less consecutively. Three years ago, the NYPD operating budget totaled $5.2 billion, and five years ago for the fiscal year for 2015 was $5.1 billion
However, AOC claim that the NYPD budget including its operating expenses is more than other “critically important issues combined are false” tenfold. New York’s total spending for the Department of Education are more than four times of NYPD of $27.1 billion, while the Department of Social Services spending is $10.2 billion.
Calls to defund the police gained traction after the death of George Floyd in late May. AOC became a huge proponent for the call, defending the rally cry by defining the slogan as a utopian America that “looks like a suburb” without having any police.
AOC expressed disdain back in June at NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio when he only cut $1 Billion, a sixth of the NYPD budget from the city’s 2021 fiscal.
“Defunding police means defunding police,” the congresswoman said in a statement. “It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools.”
She also said the budget cut is not effective if it does not reduce the presence of law enforcement.
“It does not mean counting overtime cuts as cuts, even as NYPD ignores every attempt by City Council to curb overtime spending and overspends on overtime anyways,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “If these reports are accurate, then these proposed ‘cuts’ to the NYPD budget are a disingenuous illusion. This is not a victory. The fight to defund policing continues.”
These calls contributed to over 10 Democrats losing their House races last week, with New York City seeing one seat turning red. Republican Nicole Malliotakis ousted first-term Democrat Rep. Max Rose in the Staten Island House race, as three seats in California Blue districts also became red.
Ocasio-Cortez admitted that despite the rift between establishment and progressive Democrats growing with the party that some critics were “apocalyptic” over the slogan. Moreover, she defended the controversial positions, saying we need to listen instead of being reactive to the cries that communities elected her and others in Congress for.
“I have to admit that it’s quite saddening that in this national conversation. It seems as though too many people and so the way this conversation is playing out is that defunding schools have been seen as a matter of course than defunding the police,” she stated. “In order to fund other areas is, you know has people going apocalyptic. I think this is right now in this in its current step of justice.”
She added, “But I think it is to say that we need to stop being so reactive to the cries, that we are hearing from the communities that are being killed. We have to listen to it and we don’t have control, you know it’s not my job to control activists, it’s my job to listen to the community and that is the current interpretation of what I’ve heard, and how those policy demands have been solidified and, and I will continue to listen to our community.”