POUGHKEEPSIE – Six individuals, some carrying Black Lives Matter (BLM) along with a young man carrying an ANTIFA flag protested Monday afternoon in Poughkeepsie.
Justin Ret was one of the protesters standing next to a red banner with the letters “ACAB” on it. When asked about it, he said it stands for “All Cops Are Bastards.”
Standing near Hulme Park at the corner of Market and Church Streets, the group was offering a series of chants, including “Black Lives Matter,” “Defund the Police,” “Stop Police Brutality.”
According to Ret, the group obtained the required permit from the city to host the rally. “We understand that police are overworked,” said Ret who noted that police are required to perform several different duties with little to no oversight. He also stressed the need to defund the police. “Police unions are the reason their budgets are bloated.”
Kevin Van Wagner, President of the City of Poughkeepsie PBA, the union representing the officers addressed the group’s concerns Monday afternoon. “I’m glad people are starting to realize that we are overworked,” said Van Wagner, adding “We’re also understaffed.”
The union president took issue with the claim that collective bargaining agreements are the reason that police budgets are bloated. “That’s an uninformed argument by someone that hasn’t done their research. We are hearing more and more arguments to defund the police but nobody can say where the cuts are supposed to come from – because police budgets are at a bare minimum now.”
Van Wagner also stressed that his members, through the PBA and the Police Athletic League (PAL) do a tremendous amount of community outreach on their own time, using money raised by both the PBA and PAL. “We’re out in the city doing more than waving flags – our members are out here making a difference every day.”