Menchaca: I Will Vote to Defund the NYPD and Reinvest In Our Communities

Carlos Menchaca
3 min readJun 3, 2020


We are a country and a city so consumed with fear that we see the police as our only means of public safety. That fear blinds us to how broken policing has become, causing the Mayor to send more police at people protesting police brutality.

No more. Today, I pledge that I will only vote YES for a City budget that significantly defunds the NYPD. I will only vote YES for a budget that reinvests that money in an equitable and just recovery from COVID-19.

In saying this, I join advocates and the future leaders of this City, who recognize a moral urgency and the need for political courage if we are to restore confidence and trust in government, and uphold our commitment to protecting our most vulnerable New Yorkers.

May 31, 2020 in New York City (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Defunding the NYPD and reinvesting the money in social services would attack poverty at its root, and restore trust in people that the government cares more about its recovery than rewarding a militarized and unaccountable city department. Why then are so many elected officials — even so-called progressives like the Mayor — so reluctant to back it?

The answer is simple: because the demand strikes at one of the most unspoken and entrenched beliefs we have — that cops equal public safety; that more cops means more safety, and less cops means less safety, so that even a modest change to police funding or our approach to criminality invites lawlessness, chaos, and destruction.

It is why our Mayor’s response to mass incarceration is to build four new jails. Why his response to a xenophobic deportation machine is to still deny due process for certain immigrants. Why his response to protests about police brutality is to send more police.

This is a failure of imagination and an understanding of American history that we can no longer tolerate. The police are not keeping us safe. Many are acting as bullies, not guardians. Their actions against protesters this weekend show definitively that they do not view demands for accountability as debatable grievances, but as a declaration of war.

Moreover, the absolute devastation that COVID-19 has wrought disproportionately on Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities is damning. Our systems are failing our most vulnerable New Yorkers. For the Mayor to respond to that failure by doubling-down on its most destructive feature is almost unbearable were it not so familiar.

We need a transformation of our society that is so deep, so total, that the police become a last resort rather than a first response; criminality is met with community investments not incarceration; and white supremacy no longer infects and invalidates our American ideals.

The City budget is the most tangible means we have right now to show our commitment to this vision. It is more than a mandate for spending money. The City budget reflects our values and priorities; it makes clear who we are and what we believe in.

I call on my colleagues to make the same public statement, committing now to defund the NYPD and reinvest the money in social services, weeks before the actual vote. We in the City Council have the power to do what’s right. Let us not make the same mistake in following the lead of a Mayor who has been wrong so many times before.

To those protesting outside on the streets and at home, direct your energy also into getting these commitments from your representatives. And whatever the response, do not despair over the City’s future. You are the leaders who will create a people’s budget and usher in a people’s government.