The mayor of San Jose has come out against the calls to defund police departments in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the widespread protests against police brutality and racial injustice that it has sparked.
Sam Liccardo, the Democratic mayor of the northern California city, said in a statement on Sunday that his upcoming budget proposal will have a focus on reforming the city’s police department, but it will not include any moves to defund the law enforcement agency.
“We have much work to do to confront our long and terrible history of police brutality against black and brown Americans,” Liccardo said, according to the San Jose Mercury-News. “Defunding urban police departments won’t help us do it. It is the wrong idea at the worst possible time and the budget released tomorrow will reflect that.”
Many protesters across the country are pushing to “defund the police" over the death of George Floyd and other black Americans who die while in police custody. Their chant has become a rallying cry, which President Trump has used to criticize Democrats who he portrays as soft on crime.
In Minneapolis – the city where Floyd died while in police custody -- nine of the City Council’s 12 members appeared with activists at a rally in a city park Sunday afternoon and vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison has promised that the council would “dismantle” the department.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti – a Democrat – has called for a massive slash in funding to the city’s police department, but Liccardo argued that defunding his city’s police department would just further the racial gap when it comes to public safety.
“Defunding police will hurt the very people who have suffered the most from systemic racism in this nation,” Liccardo said. “Rich, white communities and businesses in suburban malls will just accelerate the hiring of private security guards. […] “Safety from police violence is a civil right. Safety from all violence is a human right.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.