Hundreds of demonstrators rally outside City Hall to peacefully protest the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
June 4 (UPI) -- Amid nationwide protests ignited by the police-involved killing of George Floyd early last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that up to $150 million will be cut from the L.A. Police Department as part of relocating some $250 million from the city's budget to fund programs in communities of color.
The United States has been rocked by widespread protests demanding justice and social reforms since Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died May 25 after being pinned to the ground by the knee of a white police officer against his neck.
Garcetti called Floyd's death during a Wednesday evening press briefing "a modern-day lynching" and the protests representing an "inflection point" as either an opportunity for hope and progress or a flash amid another dark chapter in the country's history.
The mayor said they can't afford to waste the opportunity before them and to make sure it is a moment committed to changing "who we are in America when it comes to black America and our criminal justice system."
Garcetti had originally planned a 7 percent spending increase for the LAPD for next year, bulging its budget to $1.86 billion, but given the situation, he would be diverting money to helping black communities.
"This is bigger than just a budget, but I want you to know we will not be increasing our police budget. How can we at this moment?" he said.
Along with cutting $150 million from the LAPD, Garcetti said his administration will look to move a total of $250 million from departments to reinvest in services, such as health and job programs, in black communities.
He also announced a moratorium on adding people's names to the CalGang database, which is a statewide system that identifies and tracks alleged gang members.
Officers will also be required to intervene when they see an inappropriate use of force, report misconduct and to complete de-escalation and crowd control training by the end of the year to support the ongoing peaceful protests, he said.
Among the other initiatives announced, Garcetti said he would expand the force's mental health intervention training program to train a minimum of 900 additional officers by year's end.
"Black lives matter and the future depends on what we do now," Garcetti tweeted.
The announcement followed Minnesota authorities stating that police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen in video pinning Floyd to the ground, has had his murder charge escalated to murder in the second-degree while the three other officers involved in the incident were charged with aiding and abetting a murder.