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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her progressive colleagues from New York argued against increasing the police presence in New York City’s subway system in a 2019 letter.
AOC argued MTA’s focus should be on maintaining subways and bus services instead of increasing the police presence.
“In our view, desperately needed resources would be better invested in subway, bus, maintenance and service improvements,” the letter sent to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said. “We are urging the MTA to divest from this current model of criminalization.”
The letter was written in response to Cuomo’s plan to hire additional police officers to patrol the subways to deal with widespread violence and fare evasion. However, Cuomo’s plan was ultimately put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020.
AOC’s letter is under increased scrutiny after a shooter shot and injured at least 30 people on a New York subway. The letter cited “historic racial disparities in enforcement” and said an increased police presence would harm “communities of color.”
“Instead of patrolling the turnstile, existing police officers should focus on the threats faced by MTA employees,” the letter continued.
“Punishing the poor does not create a safer environment. Instead it threatens the very foundation of our community,” AOC said in a tweet that included the letter. “That is why my New York colleagues and I wrote a letter to @NYGovCuomo asking him to help put an end to MTA’s dangerous policing policy.”
Punishing the poor does not create a safer environment. Instead it threatens the very foundation of our community. That is why my New York colleagues and I wrote a letter to @NYGovCuomo asking him to help put an end to MTA’s dangerous policing policy. Check it out here: pic.twitter.com/g1AOWHA7Lh
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) December 17, 2019
The letter was signed by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), former Rep. Jose Serrano, and state Senators Michael Gianaris, Luis Sepulveda, Jessica Ramos, Julia Salazar, and Alessandra Biaggi.
Ocasio-Cortez, Nadler, Biaggi, Ramos, and Salazar have all advocated for defunding the police, according to the New York Post.