LOS ANGELES — On Monday, after the Los Angeles Police Department spent days violently attacking people protesting police brutality and racism, the City Council appeared set to allow a new budget — which would allocate nearly 54% of the city’s discretionary spending to the LAPD — to go into effect. With revenue tanking amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget cut funds to most city agencies, but it but expanded the police budget by 7.1%, including raises for officers.
Organizers from Black Lives Matter, the activist movement best known for protesting police officers who kill Black people, worked for more than a month with a coalition of activists in Los Angeles to fight the budget proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, which included union-negotiated $41 million in bonuses for officers with college degrees.
Los Angeles’ BLM chapter and its partners proposed an alternative “People’s Budget,” which showed how redirecting money allocated for LAPD could pay for desperately needed housing assistance, rent suspension, mental health services and support for public schools. The activists succeeded in embarrassing City Council members into delaying a vote on the budget and ultimately allowing a June 1 deadline to pass without revising the budget.
As the council failed to act, street protests continued and videos documenting LAPD violence to suppress peaceful demonstrators went viral. More than 500 people signed up to submit public comments during an online meeting of the city’s Police Commission to express their horror at law enforcement’s use of chemical irritants, projectiles, batons and even vehicles to injure demonstrators. On Wednesday City Council President Nury Martinez introduced a motion asking city staffers to pull at least $100 million to $150 million from the LAPD budget and redirect it to disadvantaged communities and communities of color. The motion is a small concession: If passed, it would eliminate only the planned increase to LAPD’s...