ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A city in western North Carolina has voted to decrease its police budget by 3% amid calls from protestors to cut the funds in half.
The Asheville City Council on Tuesday approved a $29.3 million police budget in a 5-2 vote. The cuts make up a $770,000 reduction to the $30.1 million originally proposed for the city police department’s 2020-21 budget, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
During recent demonstrations against racial injustice, protesters in Asheville and across the U.S. have rallied around calls to eliminate or reduce spending on policing and reallocate those funds into serving community needs through investment in support services, housing, education and other resources.
Councilman Brian Haynes, one of the opposing votes, said the decrease fell “way short” of the demands by Black Asheville citizens. He said there is still a net increase of $4.1 million for the police department budget over five years.
But Debra Campbell, Asheville’s first Black city manager, said the cuts were “initial steps” to reallocating police funding. She and some council members cautioned that large changes to the police budget would take time as structures are put in place to support tasks traditionally done by officers.
“The time this change will take will be considered too slow for some of you, but change will come,” said Councilwoman Julie Mayfield.
Campbell said additional changes could come if the city is able to implement such programs and initiatives.
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