NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As it has been for the past week-plus in the city, thousands of people were marching Monday in George Floyd demonstrations that were peaceful, united, and emotional.
Demonstrations felt optimistic. After nearly two weeks of demanding police reform, protesters told CBS2’s Ali Bauman they feel like the movement is gaining momentum and starting to affect tangible systemic change.
Singing, marching and kneeling, thousands of New Yorkers joined the 12th day of protests in the Big Apple, from Washington Square Park to the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Seeing that you’re not alone and seeing you’re surrounded by so many people whether they are on the streets or hanging out their windows has been very uplifting and cathartic,” one protester said.
Cynthia Maeda walks with a cane, but that hasn’t stopped her from marching through Manhattan every day.
“It’s physically taxing, but I’m alive. I didn’t die at the knee of somebody. That’s a greater cost,” Maeda said.
On Monday, the state Senate passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, which prohibits chokeholds by law enforcement and making aggravated strangulation a Class C felony.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing shifting funding from the NYPD to youth and social services, moving street vending enforcement away from the NYPD, and hiring community ambassadors to be liaisons between police and civilians.
“I think it’s important to have safety officers in the community instead of NYPD because at this point our community is scared to call the cops and that’s dangerous,” protester Adelle Myro said.
“No, not today. They will because in the next three weeks in negotiations with the City Council we’re going to decide the budget,” de Blasio said.
“De Blasio is just gonna pay lip service to get us to not come here anymore and that’s not gonna happen,” protester Damon Hall said.
Donovan Richards chairs the City Council Public Safety Committee. He said there is room to cut the police budget, especially this year with so many events canceled.
“It’s nearly a billion dollars in overtime that the NYPD has spent,” Richards said.
The latest crime stats show murders, shootings and burglaries are up last month compared to May of last year.
“You have officers who are being put in a position to go deal with protesters, but we just had somebody shot, so it’s quite concerning,” community activist Tony Herbert said.
Protesters say defunding the police does not mean getting rid of law enforcement; rather, redefining their role.
“Put less money and resources into them. Put the resources into things we need and take back control of our communities and our people,” protester Damon Hall said.
One thing Bauman did notice Monday was significantly fewer uniformed police officers at protests than on any of the days last week. No arrests were reported as of 11 p.m.