In opposition to a new policy goal that calls for “reducing the size and scope of the NYPD,” nearly half of the important City Council Progressive Caucus members have left the group.
The caucus had 35 members at the beginning of this week, making up over 80% of the Democratic conference on the Council.
But the caucus’ leaders revealed late on Friday that there are only 20 members left.
A new “Statement of Principles” outlining the caucus’ aims was created, but the 15 members who left refused to sign it—especially concerning this spring’s negotiations with Mayor Adams over the city budget.
According to people who know the situation, the statement makes commitments to advocate for increased financing for social services, education, and affordable housing, three areas on which all 35 members largely agreed.
The contract also contained a law enforcement provision, which this week became a point of contention: “We will do everything we can to limit the size and scope of the NYPD… alternative safety infrastructure that genuinely invests in our communities, and prioritizes and fund it.
Senior members, including Council Finance Committee Chairman Justin Brannan, Council Majority Leader Keith Powers, Council Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers, and Council General Welfare Committee Chairwoman Diana Ayala, were among the 15 who left the caucus because of the NYPD expenditure reduction campaign.
One member who quit the caucus in opposition to the increased police funding pledge claimed that several members are “feeling burned” due to this week’s internal strife.
To speak openly, the member spoke to the Daily News on the condition of anonymity. “It leaves a lot of members feeling like the caucus is tone-deaf toward what’s going on in the city right now,” the member said.
“Many of the members that left the Progressive Caucus agree with the fundamentals of overhauling the NYPD, but they’re not ready to commit to defunding the NYPD… Defund is not well-liked by the city’s residents.
The top four representatives of the Progressive Caucus argued in opposition that the new “Statement of Principles” guarantees that its members are more “cohesive, effective, and strategic.”
The leaders, Brooklyn’s Jennifer Gutierrez, Manhattan’s Carmen De La Rosa, Brooklyn’s Shahana Hanif, and Brooklyn’s Lincoln Restler, declared that “these new changes embody what it means to be a fighter for working-class New Yorkers.”
The senior Progressive Caucus leaders added: “The ideal vehicle to fight against Mayor Adam’s cuts to housing, public education, and social services” as a foreshadowing of the upcoming budget debate.
The mayor criticized the Progressive Caucus leaders earlier this week for the membership purge, which took place over several days.
The mayor has proposed keeping the NYPD budget this year essentially steady while cutting spending on some social programs.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Adams stated, “That is not who we are as Democrats, and I’m going to continue to stand and emphasize that we are pro-public safety.”
Adams’ fellow citywide elected officials, Comptroller Brad Lander, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, supported the Progressive Caucus over the mayor.
Williams and Lander stated in a joint statement that Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso also signed, “Progressive cannot be just a brand. “It is crucial to have a group of individuals working cooperatively in the legislature to succeed.”