L.A. City Council members introduce motion to reduce police funding as calls to ‘defund the LAPD’ echoed in protests

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Los Angeles City Council members on Wednesday introduced a motion to cut up to $150 million in funding to the L.A. Police Department.

Council President Nury Martinez and councilmembers Herb Wesson, Curren Price and Monica Rodriguez introduced the legislation to reprioritize public safety funds, reinvesting them in other services, including those “to uplift disenfranchised communities.”

“We need to rethink what it is that makes people safer and makes communities stronger… there is no doubt that communities of color suffer disproportionally from negatives interactions with police,” the motion reads.

The new legislation comes as calls to “defund the LAPD” have been echoed in protests throughout the city, on social media by Black Lives Matter and other activist groups, and in the voices of members of the public who addressed officials in Tuesday’s heated L.A. Police Commission meeting.

Criticism of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s budget for the fiscal year has heightened in recent days as officers met protesters with rubber bullets. During the L.A. Police Commission meeting, many called for the adopting of a “People’s Budget.”

“The cuts sought, between $100 million and $150 million, come as the City leaders reassess how the city allocates public safety funding, given the recent murder of George Floyd and, in particular, racism focused on Black Americans, including here in the City of Los Angeles highlighted with a groundswell of support by the Black Lives Matter movement,” officials said in a news release.

Currently, the mayor’s budget provides a 7% spending increase for the LAPD and nearly $41 million in bonuses, with the department taking up nearly 18% of the city’s overall $10.5-billion budget, the Los Angeles Times reported.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday said that in light of the recent unrest over police brutality and Floyd’s death, he will not increase funding for the LAPD.

“How could we?” he said.

Instead, Garcetti announced during a briefing that he has identified $250 million from the city’s budget that will be invested in jobs, health, education and healing focused in L.A.’s black community. He explained that cuts will be made in every department, including the LAPD.

“We all have to step up and say ‘what can we sacrifice?’” the mayor said.

A committee will meet Monday to begin deliberations on the city’s budget before it goes into effect on July 1.

“The City of Los Angeles is in the midst of a health and economic pandemic unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes,” Martinez said in a written statement. “Following the gruesome murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, we are also in the midst of a social and racial justice crisis of epic proportions where the good people of Los Angeles, as well as the nation, are asking their leaders to re-examine our priorities and to commit to taking a giant leap forward in recognizing and ending racism against Black Americans.”

Wesson called the proposed budget cuts “a step in the right direction.”

“Our only path forward is to dismantle the systems that are designed to harm people of color,” he said. “A preliminary cut to the LAPD budget will not solve everything, but it’s a step toward becoming the city we aspire to be.”

In a statement Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Protective League said Martinez has “failed the true test of leadership.”

The union expressed frustration over a tweet Martinez sent out announcing the motion.

“Rather than creating a space to come together and have the necessary and difficult dialogue on how best to move our city and nation forward, all we got was a tweet aimed at creating a deeper division between our police officers and the community we serve,” the statement read.

Officials said they expressed “genuine disgust” over Floyd’s death and have advocated for the overhaul of use of force training, but that the motion to cut funding is “offensive.”

“Ms. Martinez and her colleagues that signed this motion are spewing words that only work to marginalize and dehumanize the police officers who serve our community,” the statement read.

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