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Protesters call to defund police during budget week

Posted at 9:36 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 07:32:12-04

BALTIMORE — The call to defund police departments is ringing out in cities across the country.

The Peoples Power Assembly calling to defund the Baltimore Police Department in front of City Hall while elected officials were inside talking about the budget.

A clear message from the people at this protest—- they want the power of policing put back in the people’s hands.

“We believe it’s time now to defund that police department, It has failed us,” Organizar Nnamdi Lumba said. “We’re not just talking about police brutality, we’re talking about the murder rate, the safety concerns that we have in this city."

Defunding Police would mean the city could take some of the money allocated for the department to help the community in other ways.

"It’s time for those resources to be plugged into things like housing, jobs education and health care,” Lumba said.

Baltimore City Council started hearings Monday for the mayor's $4 billion budget proposal.

On Friday, they will discuss the proposed $545 million police budget with commissioner Michael Harrison.

Councilman Eric Costello is the chair of the budgets and appropriations committee.

He said some council members support defunding police, and some don’t.

He pointed out the relativity peaceful protests in the city as an encouraging sign of progress between community and police.

“We have the top reform police commissioner in the country in Michael Harrison,” Costello said. “We’re under a consent Decree. We have a crime plan. We have a crime plan, staffing plan, and community engagement plan. Those things have been endorsed by Judge Bredar whose overseeing the consent decree but those things also cost money to implement.”

Retiji Dakum came to the protest in an orange jump suit and cuffs.

It was difficult for him to talk about police brutality and mass incarceration— but he’s hopeful change is coming.

“Whoever’s voting, whoever’s in power, whoever’s in police, it starts from the heart,” said Dakum. “We can go one with different solutions and budget cuts and what needs to be done. IF none of that decision making comes from the heart it’s going to be the same story.”

Baltimore Police is the last agency to have a hearing. It is scheduled for Friday from 5:30-9 p.m.

The budget hearings had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic but Councilman Costello says they won’t push them back again.

The deadline to have an adopted budget signed by the Mayor is June 26.