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Council decides to freeze APD budget
Monday, 15 June 2020 16:28

From Staff Reports 

Asheville City Council decided on June 9 to freeze the police budget — a majority of council members recently confirmed, .according to a report in the Asheville Citizen Times

What’s more, “bigger structural changes on the way,” the council members told the ACT.

By midafternoon June 9, Mayor Esther Manheimer said city officials had elected to cancel a public hearing on the budget set for that evening. 

Instead, council is planning to pass an interim budget later in the month in which funding would be flat for all departments, Manheimer told the ACT. 

The current draft budget for the year shows a 1.4 percent increase for the Asheville Police Department despite an overall decrease of 3 percent in the proposed operating budget, “but that now is in doubt,” the ACT noted.

Council plans to pass a final revised budget Sept. 8.

“We want a chance to go back and look at the budget and see if there are things from a budgetary standpoint we can do to address change,” Manheimer told the ACT.

Council’s actions followed a week of local protests, part of a national wave of unrest over the May 25 murder of black resident George Floyd by Minneapolis police. 

“Council members pointed to parallels in the death of Floyd, who called out he could not breathe, and the 2017 beating, shocking and choking by police of black Asheville resident Johnnie Rush who survived but also cried out that he couldn’t breathe, as seen in police body cam video,” the ACT noted.

The ACT also reported that Councilman Keith Young, one of two black council members, “said the budget delay would allow the council to ‘hit the reset button — and take concrete steps forward toward real equitable change.’” 

“‘I believe that a big part of this conversation really is about reimagining how we do public safety in America,’” Young said.

Before the recent series of protests took place, resulting in clashes with police, 57 arrests and destruction of property, City Manager Debra Campbell was recommending an increase in spending for APD from $29.7 million to $30.1 million for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Meanwhile, following the police killing of George Floyd, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council on June 7 announced they intend to defund and dismantle the city’s police department. “We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe,” Council President Lisa Bender said.


 



 


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