The vote was rescheduled after more than 600 people spent hours 110-degree weather to demand police accountability.
Phoenix City Council rescheduled Wednesday’s budget vote to Monday after councilmembers failed to pass any of the three motions on the table during a six-hour meeting Wednesday.
The Council heard hours of public comment calling for them to slash police funding by 25% and give more funding to civilian oversight and community programs. Many of the participants called in from a rally outside of City Hall, where more than 600 people gathered in 110-degree weather to demand concrete steps toward police accountability.
Supporters say the Community Review Board and the Office of Accountability and Transparency, approved in February, will require $3 million. The city only allocated $400,000 to the groups, saying it’s enough to get them started while Phoenix deals with budget shortfalls as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Activists denounced this explanation, saying if the city could find room for a $25 million increase to the police, they should be able to find $2.5 million more for oversight.
Councilman Carlos Garcia attempted to meet these demands, motioning for the Council to move $2.5 million from the city’s contingency fund to the oversight groups. But the motion failed after the deputy city manager expressed concerns over an already low contingency fund and the possibility of creditors downgrading the city’s bond rating if it didn’t quickly replenish those funds.
A motion to approve the budget as is, as well as one to approve as is but direct any year-end savings to be put into the oversight programs, also failed by close votes of 4-5.
The Council decided to continue the vote to Monday at 11 a.m., when they will resume discussion but not hear any more testimony from the public.
Garcia said the Council “failed” its constituents after taking no action despite receiving over 2,000 public comments largely in favor of committing more money to oversight.
“Police violence has been an issue across the country and in Phoenix for too long and historically has affected Black people the most,” he said in a statement. “Postponing on this issue ignores the needs of our community.”
The rally outside of City Hall led into other gatherings throughout downtown Phoenix, marking the seventh consecutive day of protests in the city sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Wednesday was the third night in a row of protesters complying with Gov. Doug Ducey’s 8 p.m. curfew and police making no arrests.
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