Past and present members of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration are protesting the mayor over his handling of the recent unrest in the city, demanding immediate police reform.
“I feel like I am doing my job as a public servant out here today,” Cat Almonte, 28, told the New York Post of the decision to protest her boss.
The protest began at City Hall with a few dozen workers and swelled to hundreds of workers ranging from the Department of Health to the Department of City Planning, and made its way over the Brooklyn Bridge, with many carrying signs which read, “Black Lives Matter.”
“Some of us are risking our livelihood being here, our careers,” Almonte — who formerly worked as de Blasio’s personal aide and now works for a city agency, which she declined to identify — told the crowd.
The mayor proposed policy changes to the New York Police Department, including redistributing NYPD funding to youth and social services, shifting enforcement of street vendors away from police, and focusing on hiring community liaisons into the most senior levels of the NYPD, NBC New York reported.
But for many of de Blasio’s current and former staffers, his words were not enough.
Almonte demanded a $1 billion reduction in NYPD funding for the upcoming fiscal year — making up a sixth of the department’s budget — and moving that cash to food assistance, rent relief, and housing support.
The protest coincided with several groups of former and current city employees penning open letters of criticism to de Blasio, including one that came from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.
Among the list of demands in the letter from current and former staffers included defunding the NYPD and reallocating that funding towards community groups. They also demanded greater accountability for the NYPD.
While his current and former employees were protesting on the streets, de Blasio held a press conference miles away at Brooklyn Navy Yard. At the press conference, he was announcing 20 miles of bus service in time for the city’s phased reopening.
“I don’t know who is or who is not,” he said, referring to protesters who are or have been part of his administration. “I say to anyone who has a concern, I want to hear it, senior staff wants to hear it. I reach out a hand to anyone who wants to do that work together.”