MANYC Newsletter

Juneteenth, Defund, Reparations

A history of Juneteenth, Calls to Defund, and Reparations!

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, sometimes known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, or Jubilee Day, celebrates the end of chattel slavery in this country.

On June 19, 1865 – two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation – Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas announced that the Civil War was over and the enslaved people of Texas were free. As the most remote of the slave states, with the fewest Union soldiers, Texas was the last Confederate state to free enslaved people. A few months later, the 13th Amendment was passed, and chattel slavery became illegal across the United States.

Serving as a day of remembrance for Black people  in Texas since 1866, Juneteenth began to be commemorated across the country in the 1970s. Join Black leaders in calling for Juneteenth to be a federal holiday in the United States. 

Calls to Action:

Sign Opal Lee’s petition to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Send emails to your Congressperson and to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumerasking to make Juneteenth a holiday.

The History of Calls to “Defund” the Police

Activists have participated in large-scale organizing to defund and abolish police and prisons in the United States since as early as the 1940s. You can read about this history in this article in the Boston Review.

Calls for abolition re-emerged in force in the 1970s, and organizing efforts continued in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1976, Fay “Honey” Knopp published Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Prison Abolitionists and in 1983, Ruth Morris and others organized the International Conference on Penal Abolition. Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and other activists formed the group Critical Resistance in 1997. Gilmore, perhaps the foremost abolitionist scholar, describes much abolitionist work as “non-reformist reforms,” meaning reforms that build towards real change. Divesting in police and investing in communities is one such example.

Support Black-led organizations like Communities United for Police ReformCritical Resistance, and the Movement for Black Lives in these calls to defund the police. Read organizer Mariame Kaba’s brilliant essay in the New York Times about police abolition or watch Kaba’s recent lecture outlining the goals of and steps toward abolition. And keep in mind that New York Police Department’s (NYPD’s) $6 billion budget is only half of the true cost to the city. New Yorkers spend another $5 billion a year on NYPD pensions and benefits, $600 million on NYPD building/vehicle maintenance, repairs, and associated debt, and $250 million on settlements and judgements for lawsuits against the NYPD. Learn about some of the proposals to reallocate this money here.

Calls to Action:

Calls for defunding and abolition are not simply calls for elimination or destruction. As Gilmore and other abolitionists point out, we must build anew. You can read here about the eight steps toward abolition, of which defunding the police is the first or check out Free Them All’s multi-step platform to defund the NYPD, including closing Rikers. We must begin to rethink the ways in which we address crime,focusing not on retribution and punishment, but on new forms of justice. And, we must not only redistribute funds on a local level, but on a state and federal level. We must invest in social services. And we must support reparations.

Demand Reparations Now

Support calls for reparations for the descendants of enslaved people in the United States. If you are a non-Black ally, we urge you to join us in commemorating Juneteenth this year by calling for reparations.

Reparations are a first step toward restitution for stolen lives, labor, knowledge, and skills, and for the continued systemic violence against and theft of land and property from Black people in the United States. Listen to this short piece on NPR exploring reparations.

We urge you to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article “The Case for Reparations,” if you haven’t already.  And read about the Movement for Black Lives’ call for reparations.

Call to Action

Send emails to your Congressperson and to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer demanding they support the House (H.R. 40) and Senate (S. 1083) bills to create a commission to study reparations.

In solidarity,
Mutual Aid NYC (MANYC)

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MANYC Newsletter

Urgent: Black-led Calls to Action

Dear MANYC Community:

Here are some urgent calls to action we are hearing from Black leadership across NYC. 

We share this info in the spirit of self-determination, and we encourage you to follow your conscience as you decide how you want to engage.  

Remember: There are many ways to be in the struggle beyond the streets, and the work we do to support Black neighbors via mutual aid is part of the long-term work of mending the damage of hundreds of years of oppression and building better structures for the future.

Defund NYPD + Repeal 50-A

Time-sensitive: Two decisions re: the police system are on the table in city budget conversations this week

  • NYC’s City Council is discussing next year’s NYPD budget
  • New York’s Legislature is considering repealing Section 50-A, known as the “Police Secrecy Law.” 

Right now, Mayor de Blasio has proposed a budget for 2021 that cutseducation, social services, and youth program funding, while keeping the NYPD fully funded at $6 billion dollars

There are many ways that the city can easily cut the NYPD budget and use those funds instead to support our communities. 

Reducing the NYPD budget by $1 billion – or about 17% – would provide necessary funds for food, housing, and social services. This is a direct link to MANYC’s work.

Take action: Make calls!

Take action: Share your testimonies!

  • Recall a troubling incident involving NYPD – whether you experienced it personally or heard from someone seeking support on the hotline.
  • Record a short video or audio clip (30 to 60 seconds) describing what happened.
  • Try to give context: Was a person of color, an immigrant, an undocumented person, or LGBTQ person involved?
  • Include whatever personal information you are comfortable with – such as your first name, organization you were representing at the time, the general location – without putting yourself or someone else at risk. 
  • Email the file to Leo Ferguson at Jews For Racial and Economic Justice.

How to Participate in Street Actions:

Learn before you go. Show up prepared.

Safety for Street Actions

We thank you. We support you. Be safe out there.

Talk to non-Black people you love about structural racism.

Some helpful compilations of resources:



  • Donate to their bail fund here: @FTP4BAILFUND.

Thank you for doing your part to support our Black neighbors.

In solidarity, 
Mutual Aid NYC