Story at a glance
- The city of Berkeley, Calif., has voted to defund its police department.
- Other local governments across California are making similar decisions.
On Wednesday, the city council in Berkeley, Calif., agreed on a budget for the city’s next fiscal year that includes slashing the police budget by $9.2 million, a 12 percent drop in funding.
The Mercury News reports that the money is to be regarded as “a down payment in reimagining public safety in Berkeley,” per Mayor Jesse Arreguín (D).
This development follows the weeks of civil rights protests decrying the systemic racism and police brutality that have plagued Black Americans since the country’s inception. Catalyzed by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, a rallying cry of the protests was to defund police departments across the country and reallocate the money toward other public areas.
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Berkeley council members have reportedly said that they will re-evaluate the role of the city’s police force upon its July 14 meeting.
“The overwhelming message [from the public] is that we do need to defund the police and we need to reinvest money from our police department budget into other community priorities, including expanding mental health, outreach and treatment, services for our homeless, housing and services that specifically address the needs of our Black and brown communities,” Arreguin reportedly explained at the council meeting following the budget announcement.
Cuts to law enforcement were made to help pay the outstanding $39 million budget deficit without cutting jobs.
The Hill reached out to the Berkeley Police for comment.
The Northern California city is one of the earliest towns to act on protestors’ calls to defund the police. In Los Angeles, the city council voted to cut the police budget by $150 million on Wednesday, which will bring the total number of officers down to 9,757 by summer 2021.
Back in mid-June, another California region, San Leandro, voted to reallocate more than $1 million in police funding to other citywide and public programs.
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