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“Stop the Cops & Fund Black Futures”: Voices from First Day of New York City Hall Park Occupation

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On Monday, hundreds of activists gathered at New York City Hall demanding the defunding of the New York Police Department, the firing of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and reparations for victims of police brutality. Democracy Now!’s Charina Nadura and Andre Lewis were at the park speaking to protesters.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn right now to the release of the new platform coming as Black Lives Matter protests continue nationwide following the police killings of African Americans Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. On Monday, hundreds of activists gathered here in New York City at City Hall demanding the defunding of the New York Police Department, the firing of the New York police commissioner, Bill Bratton, and reparations for victims of police brutality. Democracy Now!’s Charina Nadura and Andre Lewis were there.

PROTESTER 1: Fire Bill Bratton. For what? You fire Bill Bratton when executive leadership of a city agency is malfeasance.

VIENNA RYE: My name is Vienna Rye. I’m an organizer with Millions March NYC. And we are here today to demand that Bill Bratton be immediately fired, and broken windows policing ended, that reparations are paid to all victims and survivors of racist police brutality, and that the NYPD is defunded and that money is reinvested into black, brown and working-class communities.

PROTESTER 2: [echoed by the People’s Mic] We will not allow for it to continue!

CYNTHIA MALONE: We’re here to stop the cops and fund black futures. We sincerely believe that a disinvestment in the NYPD, rather than investing $5.5 billion into a corrupt, racist police institution, and investing that money instead into our communities is a way that we can achieve freedom for our people.

NABIL HASSEIN: My name is Nabil Hassein. I’m an organizer with Millions March NYC. There are so many ways that this money could be used besides—besides the NYPD. This money could be used for funding a system of mental health first responders, so that we would have someone to call other than the police when someone is having a mental health episode. There’s no reason to believe that introducing an element of deadly force is actually going to be something that improves the situation. This money could be used for building housing in the city. This money could be used for jobs, for—this money could be, honestly, for pretty much anything other than the police, the jails and the prisons.

PROTESTERS: Who do you serve? Who do you protect? Who do you serve? Who do you protect?

FRANCIS MARIE BRATHWAITE: My name is Francis Marie Brathwaite. Around, you say about—maybe about 10:30 or about 10:00, 10:30, you see a large police presence come towards the park, even though there was a presence there already, but not as large as it was just now. And around 11:00, they pulled the LRADs out. They gave us our first warning. And the funny thing is that while they’re all out there compiled, everybody else went into the park. They didn’t know what was going on. And that was the contingency plan, to come to this park here, which is a 24-hour space, open to the public. As long as we don’t violate any of the rules here, we’re fine. Well, for me, I’m an occupier. I know what these demands mean to the city, period. You know? And I feel like I need to be out here with my comrades, supporting them.

PROTESTERS: We gonna be all right! We gonna be all right!

FRANCIS MARIE BRATHWAITE: There’s things that need to be done that are not being done, and people are not being held accountable, and they need to be held accountable. So, I’m out here. I’m going to occupy for as long as it takes, until our demands [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: Voices of protest last night outside New York City Hall. Special thanks to Democracy Now!’s Charina Nadura and Andre Lewis.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a side of Khizr and Ghazala Khan that you may not have seen anywhere yet, as they stand and grieve at their son Captain Khan’s grave in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery. Stay with us.

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Section 60: 2008 Film Captures Khizr & Ghazala Khan Mourning Son in Arlington National Cemetery

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