In an unexpected move, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that a planned funding increase for LAPD has been canceled and the city will likely seek as much as $150 million in further cuts, with the money used for “reinvesting in black communities and communities of color.”
“This is bigger than just a budget, but I want you to know we will not be increasing our police budget. How can we at this moment?” Garcetti said in public remarks Wednesday night. Garcetti said he has now tasked the city to “identify $250 million in cuts, so we could invest in jobs, in health, in education, and in healing. And that those dollars need to be focused on our black community here in Los Angeles, as well as communities of color, and women, and people who have been left behind, for too long.”
While LAPD won’t bear the full brunt of those cuts, according to the Los Angeles times, it will likely see reductions of between $100 and $150 million.
Prior to the announcement, the city was actually planning a 7% increase in funding for LAPD, which would have given the department approximately 53% of the city’s general fund. This despite the fact that major cuts were planned for other essential services due to budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.
That proposed budget was hotly criticized when it was announced in April — particularly because it included an increase in bonuses for police officers, again despite the deep cuts proposed to other necessary services. The shutdown (which kept the majority of Angelenos quarantined in their homes) muted those criticisms somewhat, but that changed last week after the eruption of massive nationwide protests inspired by the death of George Floyd.
Among other things, activists demanded that the city budget be replaced with the so-called “People’s Budget,” a proposal that calls for defunding LAPD and reallocating the money to mental health services, rent forgiveness for people affected by the shutdowns, and housing for homeless people, among other things. Even so, those demands may have gone unanswered but for a boost from an unexpected source: LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who during a press conference on Monday said that looters were just as culpable for the death of George Floyd as the police officers who murdered him.
Moore’s comments sparked a huge backlash, with Ava DuVernay and actress Kimrie Lewis among his angriest critics, and on Tuesday morning he said he misspoke and then apologized. Alas, it appeared that apology was not accepted; on Tuesday afternoon, the LAPD commission held a public forum hosted on Zoom which very quickly became dominated by nonstop, often hilariously profane demands that Moore resign and LAPD be defunded.
In the end, Garcetti didn’t enact the “people’s budget,” but the reversal is hard to see as anything but a response to all of that.