Los Angeles slashes police budget after protest demands

Demonstrators gather in front of LAPD headquarters during a protest in Los Angeles on June 2. (AP pic)

LOS ANGELES: Los Angeles voted Wednesday to cut the city’s police budget by US$150 million, acceding in part to demands made during last month’s anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The measure was passed in a 12-2 vote by the city council, with much of the money to be rediverted to minority areas of Los Angeles.

“This is a step forward, supporting minority communities in ways in which they deserve – with respect, dignity and an even playing field,” said Curren Price, the sole black member on the council’s budget committee.

The cut will see the Los Angeles Police Department fall below 10,000 officers next summer, to its lowest level since 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The city has over 4 million residents.

Before the measure, the LAPD budget had been steadily growing for years to reach US$1.86 billion, out of the city’s total US$10.5 billion budget.

Black Lives Matter protests swept Los Angeles and the nation following African American Floyd’s death under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis in May.

Organisers demanded the LAPD be “defunded” far beyond the scope of Wednesday’s cut.

“I want to take this time to acknowledge Black Lives Matter-LA organisers and others for keeping our feet to the fire and demanding more from our government,” said Price.

New York lawmakers Tuesday also approved a budget that purports to slash US$1 billion from the city’s much larger police force.

The LAPD cut comes as Los Angeles faces a massive budget deficit following the coronavirus lockdown.