By Associated Press - Thursday, June 11, 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Advocates for overhauling law enforcement agencies are planning a march Thursday aimed at persuading Tempe officials to redirect funding from its police department to community development programs.

The march will begin at Tempe Town Lake and move to City Hall, where officials are scheduled to discuss budgetary issues.

Joel Cornejo, a leader of the Tempe-based human rights group Semillas, said the goal is to persuade officials to use the city’s $22 million in federal coronavirus-related aid on free transit passes for Tempe residents and affordable housing and pre-kindergarten programs, instead of on police operations.

Cornejo conceded the group doesn’t yet have anyone on the City Council who will officially propose such a measure, and none of Thursday’s agendas specifically mentions the federal aid.

Still, group members plan to bring up their idea during the public-comment portion of the meeting Thursday evening.

Cornejo said the current budget process in Tempe is too far along to immediately seek the redirection of funding for police, so advocates are focusing on the federal aid.

Advocates for overhauling police departments gathered outside Phoenix City Hall last week calling for government money to be redirected away from police operations.

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