Seattle City Council voted 7-2 on Tuesday evening to overturn Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto on a bill that aims to cut police funding by around $ 3 million.
“We cannot look away from it and no longer accept the status quo if we truly believe that blacks’ lives matter,” Council President Lorena Gonzalez said, according to MyNorthwest.com.
The bill would also remove up to 100 officers from various police units and limit employee pay to $ 150,000, the Seattle Times reported.
The council said the bill was a “down payment” for its efforts to ultimately fund the department by 50%, which would likely happen next year.
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Council members Debora Juarez and Alex Pedersen voted against, reported KING-TV from Seattle.
The council approved the cuts 7-1
Best, the city’s first black police chief, had been in the department for nearly three decades.
The council overruled the mayor’s veto on a total of three bills, including reallocating $ 14 million to community security programs, KING said.
And if the veto override was unsuccessful, Gonzalez was planning an alternative budget proposal that would limit the cuts to the department and proposed community funding, MyNorthwest.com reported.
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During an hour of public commentary, most speakers urged the council to lift the veto in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, The Times reported.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe … Countless videos of black and brown lives lost here in Seattle and across the country show us that not everyone feels safe,” added González, according to TImes. “We need public safety that focuses on harm reduction, not the status quo. … “When I look back at this moment, I want to be able to tell my daughter, who I am currently holding in my arms, that I did the right thing and voted on the right side of the story.”
At the urging of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, business leaders and some local residents, the mayor has urged the council to slow down the defunding of the department.
The city is also facing a budget war over the coronavirus pandemic.
Durkan will release its budget plan next week, The Times reported.
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Both Durkan and Councilor Kshama Sawant face recall attempts – Durkan for using police force during protests and Sawant for allowing protesters to enter City Hall during the pandemic.