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Neighborhood councils across LA endorse cuts to LAPD’s budget, including NWWNC

The Los Angeles City Council will cut the LAPD’s budget by $150 million after calls to action from local councils across Los Angeles. (Daily Bruin file photo) Photo credit: Firyal Bawab

By Elizabeth Sherwood and Sara Rashidi

Jul. 3, 2020 4:36 pm

The Los Angeles City Council made budget cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department following calls for action from neighborhood councils across the city of Los Angeles.

As of June 29, at least 13 neighborhood councils citywide have sent letters to the LA City Council in favor of the People’s Budget LA, according to a tweet by the Progressive Neighborhood Council Alliance. The People’s Budget LA is an association organized by the LA chapter of Black Lives Matter demanding that the LA City Council and mayor reallocate LAPD funds toward new housing, improved services for those experiencing homelessness, more mental health services, resources for public schools and investments in Black communities.

The North Westwood Neighborhood Council wrote a community impact statement supporting the People’s Budget LA, said NWWNC member Andrew Lewis. The council hopes that the LA City Council adopts the coalition’s initiatives, he said.

Lewis presented a motion at the June 10 NWWNC meeting calling for UCLA to cut ties with the LAPD and UCPD, because of the over-policing and harassment that UCLA’s Black student community has experienced under UCPD. The council passed the motion unanimously.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council worked closely with the NWWNC to create the motion, said USAC President Naomi Riley. USAC also hopes to persuade UCLA to divest from the UCPD in the near future, she said.

The LA City Council approved a $150 million cut to the LAPD budget Thursday.

A report released Friday by City Administrative Officer Richard Llewellyn Jr. and Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso said this cut will force the LAPD to reduce its staffing and could leave it with a record-low number of officers by June 2021.

Sylvia Denlinger, the public safety director and treasurer of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, said the ERNC also backs the goals outlined in the People’s Budget.

Members of the ERNC hope to see funding directed away from the police and toward housing to address homelessness in LA, she said. Police often respond to issues among people experiencing homelessness, but do not have the necessary expertise or resources to peacefully resolve crises, Denlinger said.

“Many people in Eagle Rock feel like there is something wrong with all the money going into police and none to housing,” Denlinger said. “It is very ineffectively spent right now.”

Taylor Holland, a board member of the Homelessness, Refugees & Renters’ Rights Committee of the Mid City West Community Council, said that her council hopes the People’s Budget will help address the lack of social services available to citizens of LA.

“There’s converging health, racial injustice and economic crises that are happening right now in Los Angeles,” Holland said. “That calls for investment in social services and programs, … especially after the homeless count came out again.”

[RELATED: Annual Report Finds 13% Increase in People Experiencing Homelessness in LA County]

Additionally, the funds currently allocated to the LAPD could be used to help the businesses struggling in light of forced closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

Many small businesses have been closed for a long time because of COVID-19, while the first days of protests impacted other businesses along Melrose Avenue, she added.

Local governments began to consider ways to reform and reduce police funding after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, Lewis said.

“The conversation shifted into, one, why do we need to spend that much of a public budget toward policing?” Lewis said. “And two, a lot of those funds that are currently allocated toward policing could go toward other services like homeless services and education.”

Lewis said he hopes the LA City Council will consider the citizens’ demands when making its decisions.

“There are thousands and thousands of people marching in every part of LA that are asking for this,” Lewis said. “What I’m hoping is that (the city council) will listen to the people of LA … and start to rethink what policing in the LAPD can look like.”

Riley added she hopes that backing the NWWNC’s motion will positively impact the UCLA community.

“We don’t want to see things like over-policing on campus and in the Westwood area, but this isn’t the end-all be-all for a lot of us,” said Riley, a fourth-year political science student. “The ultimate goal is to create a larger movement … that is sustainable beyond the UCLA campus.”

While one letter from a neighborhood council may seem ineffective, many letters and petitions could create additional momentum for the coalition, Denlinger said.

“If people put pressure on their local councilman to support these changes in the budget, to support reallocating the money, to support oversight of the police, … that can be done by the city councilman,” Denlinger said.

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Elizabeth Sherwood | Assistant News editor
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