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Two statues of George Washington are defaced in New York

Two statues of George Washington were defaced with red paint in New York City yesterday – while the Occupy City Hall protest continued in the rain and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $1billion cut in the NYPD’s budget. 

The monument at Washington Square Park was targeted by vandals who threw balloons at the arch and its two statues of Washington in the early hours of Monday. 

Cops are offering a $2,500 reward to help hunt down the vandals, days after Donald Trump demanded long prison sentences for people who deface statues.  

Statues of Washington, who owned more than 100 slaves, have come under attack around the country amid the ongoing anti-racism protests unleashed by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. 

The protests have inspired a week-long ‘occupation’ outside City Hall in New York, where demonstrators have set up camp – including a makeshift ‘People’s Library’ that promotes ‘radical literature’. 

De Blasio bowed to one of the protesters’ demands last night by announcing a $1billion cut to the NYPD budget, calling it a package of ‘savings’ in the wake of the coronavirus crisis – but the mayor’s critics fear that drastic cuts could plunge New York back into the crime-ridden days of the 1980s.  

Defaced: A statue of George Washington is covered in red paint after being vandalized in Washington Square Park in the early hours of Monday. America's first president owned more than 100 slaves, making him a target of recent anti-racism protests

Defaced: A statue of George Washington is covered in red paint after being vandalized in Washington Square Park in the early hours of Monday. America’s first president owned more than 100 slaves, making him a target of recent anti-racism protests

Target: The arch at Washington Square Park has two statues of the nation's first president, which were targeted by vandals throwing balloons in the early hours of yesterday morning

Target: The arch at Washington Square Park has two statues of the nation’s first president, which were targeted by vandals throwing balloons in the early hours of yesterday morning 

Clean-up: A member of the New York City Monuments and Conservation department power-washes the statue of Washington yesterday after it was vandalized

Clean-up: A member of the New York City Monuments and Conservation department power-washes the statue of Washington yesterday after it was vandalized 

People sit on mats at the Occupy City Hall protest in New York yesterday where protesters saw one of their demands met when Bill de Blasio announced a $1billion cut in the NYPD budget

People sit on mats at the Occupy City Hall protest in New York yesterday where protesters saw one of their demands met when Bill de Blasio announced a $1billion cut in the NYPD budget 

The protests continued in bad weather in the 'no-cop zone' renamed as 'Abolition Park' where protesters are camped outside City Hall in Manhattan

The protests continued in bad weather in the ‘no-cop zone’ renamed as ‘Abolition Park’ where protesters are camped outside City Hall in Manhattan 

A massive Black Lives Matter mural covers a street in Brooklyn, as seen yesterday, after it was painted over the weekend along the block of Fulton Street between Marcy and Brooklyn avenues

A massive Black Lives Matter mural covers a street in Brooklyn, as seen yesterday, after it was painted over the weekend along the block of Fulton Street between Marcy and Brooklyn avenues 

De Blasio said his new budget was the ‘toughest’ in his six-year tenure at City Hall, saying $9billion of revenue had ‘evaporated’ during the virus pandemic. 

The mayor said the NYPD cuts would ‘shift resources to young people, to communities in a way that would help address a lot of the underlying issues’. 

‘I am excited to say that we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution, and at the same time ensure that we keep our city safe, and we make sure that our officers are on patrol where we need them around this city,’ De Blasio declared at a press conference. 

‘So, that’s something that I think is so important for the future, to strike that balance the right way, reform, justice, redistribution, but always safety.’ 

De Blasio did not give details of the cuts, but hinted at changes to school safety programs. 

On top of the $1 billion cut in operating expenses, there will be a more than $500 million cut to the NYPD’s capital budget, with the money instead used to build youth recreation centers and for public housing developments, de Blasio added. 

The NYPD has about 36,000 officers. Asked if that number will hold, de Blasio responded: ‘Whatever we do in terms of headcount has to keep the city safe.’ 

Pending a federal bailout or borrowing authority, de Blasio says the city will have to start laying off as many as 22,000 workers, beginning in October. 

The mayor indicated the city is not optimistic about receiving additional stimulus from the federal government before the end of July.

‘The NYPD did a hell of a good job of saying, okay, here’s a bunch of things we could do while still keeping the city safe,’ de Blasio said. 

‘It is a moment where we have to address profound issues. We need to redistribute revenue to communities that need the most.’

New York City's Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio (pictured) unveiled the plans to shrink the NYPD's $6 billion budget during a press conference at City Hall on Monday afternoon

New York City’s Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio (pictured) unveiled the plans to shrink the NYPD’s $6 billion budget during a press conference at City Hall on Monday afternoon

Protesters shelter under tents and umbrellas during their standing protest in New York City yesterday where demonstrators are demanding cuts to police funding

Protesters shelter under tents and umbrellas during their standing protest in New York City yesterday where demonstrators are demanding cuts to police funding 

The protesters have declared an 'autonomous zone' and a 'no-cop zone' in an echo of the ongoing 'occupation' in Seattle

The protesters have declared an ‘autonomous zone’ and a ‘no-cop zone’ in an echo of the ongoing ‘occupation’ in Seattle 

A group of protesters make their way to the Occupy City Hall 'autonomous zone' in New York City last night

A group of protesters make their way to the Occupy City Hall ‘autonomous zone’ in New York City last night 

Protesters take shelter at the Occupy City Hall protest where demonstrators have named the park as 'Abolition Park'

Protesters take shelter at the Occupy City Hall protest where demonstrators have named the park as ‘Abolition Park’ 

Hundreds of demonstrators have spent the past week camped out in City Hall Park to demand cuts in police funding.  

Organizers have called it ‘Occupy City Hall’, a reference to the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement a few blocks away in Zuccotti Park. 

The group directed its demands – scrawled on colorful placards, a canvass of graffiti and a massive poster taped over a subway entrance – at de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson. 

‘We’ve done different levels of escalation to make sure we’re getting their attention,’ said Jonathan Lykes, one of the movement’s organizers. ‘If they defund the police by $1 billion then we have won – but that’s only our demand this week.’ 

At the protest a makeshift ‘People’s Library,’ assembled under a tent, promotes ‘radical literature’ while a nearby ‘bodega’ features free donated food and protective gear to protesters.  

Speakers announced ‘de-arrest training’ sessions and reinforced the expectation that residents of the space look after one another.

‘We want racial injustice to end, and the means is that we stay here right now in this space,’ said Manny, who addressed the crowd but declined to give his last name. 

‘It’s very clear that people want to stay past Tuesday and that people want to see police and prison abolition.’

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in New York City because of the coronavirus, but those rules have been ignored by protesters for weeks and police have not moved to enforce them. 

Lykes said the occupation has made the NYPD ‘nervous,’ recalling a string of minor confrontations that were resolved without arrests. He differentiated the peaceful assembly in Lower Manhattan from a weeks-old occupation in Seattle that has seen episodes of violence.

‘We have an uprising and one of the largest we’ve seen since the death of Martin Luther King,’ he said. ‘These are the worst of times but the best of times as far as an opportunity to change.’ 

The idea of slashing the NYPD’s budget, now around $6 billion annually for operations, seemed politically laughable even a year ago with memories of 9/11 and the high-crime decades of the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s still fresh. 

But now, city agencies across the board are dealing with the possibility of big cuts due to a huge loss in revenue caused by coronavirus.  

Patrick Lynch, head of the Police Benevolent Association union, said the proposed cuts will lead to fewer cops on the streets amid a spike in shootings. 

‘We will say it again: the Mayor and the City Council have surrendered the city to lawlessness. Things won’t improve until New Yorkers hold them responsible,’ he said. 

Last weekend alone, as many as eleven people were shot in a period of less than 12 hours across Saturday night and into Sunday morning, in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. Murder is also up 25 percent in the city in comparison to this time last year. 

A series of slogans are displayed at the Occupy City Hall protest, including more than one demand to 'defund the NYPD'

A series of slogans are displayed at the Occupy City Hall protest, including more than one demand to ‘defund the NYPD’ 

A protester holds a sign demanding that cops 'stop killing black people' and that authorities 'defund police'

A protester holds a sign demanding that cops ‘stop killing black people’ and that authorities ‘defund police’

Protesters display a series of slogans including Black Lives Matter and 'abolish the police' at the Occupy City Hall protest

Protesters display a series of slogans including Black Lives Matter and ‘abolish the police’ at the Occupy City Hall protest 

Earlier this week, several officials warned that any drastic cuts to the NYPD would set the city back 30 years in its efforts to control crime (pictured, a graffiti-covered subway car in the 1980s)

Earlier this week, several officials warned that any drastic cuts to the NYPD would set the city back 30 years in its efforts to control crime (pictured, a graffiti-covered subway car in the 1980s) 

Earlier this week, several officials warned that any drastic cuts to the NYPD would set the city back 30 years in its efforts to control crime – jeopardizing public safety in a negative impact that ‘would be felt in every neighborhood citywide,’ a law enforcement source told the Daily News.

‘A $1 billion cut to the NYPD’s operating budget would set the city back three decades and severely compromise the significant progress the NYPD has made in keeping crime at historic lows and New Yorkers safe.’

That view is one shared by Bruce Backman, a New York-based research consultant and member of the Re-Open New York coalition, who told DailyMail.com the city is balancing on the precipice of disaster – leaving it just ‘two years away from becoming like Detroit’.

‘The city of New York has never been worse than it has been in the last three months and it’s getting worse by the day,’ Backman said. ‘It’s not just coronavirus, its riots, looting, murders, fireworks and burglaries.’

‘Once they know New York is on the run, this will incur more crime,’ Backman continued. ‘Go into any of the poorer neighborhoods of New York and ask those who live there if they want less law enforcement on the street.

‘I’m pretty sure the answer is not what the mayor thinks it is,’ he said. ‘This is not the time to decrease funding, this is bad public policy.’ 

Owner of American Home Hardware and More, Felix Atlasman, echoed Backman’s sentiments in an interview with DailyMail.com Monday. 

Atlasman detailed how his neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen has been plagued by a dangerous crime spree in recent weeks. 

Amid suggestions New York City could be heading back to its crime ridden days of the 1980s, Atlasman insisted ‘we’re already back there’.

‘My best selling item used to be light bulbs, now it’s pepper spray,’ said Atlasman, who opened the hardware store in 1955. 

‘When I call the police they arrive two hours later and then ask me which way [the shoplifter] went.’ 

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