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23 Sep, 2020 04:21

Seattle lawmakers successfully override mayor’s veto on $3 million police budget cut & 100 officer layoffs

Seattle lawmakers successfully override mayor’s veto on $3 million police budget cut & 100 officer layoffs

Seattle City Council has voted to overturn Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto on legislation that would slash millions of dollars from the local police budget, a move cheered by activist groups and reviled by some residents.

The council overturned Durkan’s veto by a vote of 7-2, securing exactly the number of votes needed to put the legislation into effect.

“In the wake of a racial reckoning, a $300 million budget shortfall, a pandemic, a climate crisis, a homelessness crisis... and a lack of federal leadership, our fundamental duty remains: to balance the city’s budget and meet the needs of Seattle’s most vulnerable residents,” city council president Lorena Gonzalez said in a statement.

City lawmakers also negated vetoes for two other bills unrelated to law enforcement, however the police defunding bill, originally passed in August, will cut some $3 million from the Seattle Police Department’s $400 million budget and reduce the force by 100 employees, including 32 patrol officers. The legislation will also abolish Seattle’s “Navigation Team,” an agency that works with police to disband homeless encampments around the city.

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While the $3 million cut is far from the massive 50-percent budget reduction sought by the council over the summer, police accountability activists have nonetheless celebrated the overturned veto, including local groups Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now, which issued a joint statement after Tuesday’s vote.

“Today, we are encouraged to see the City Council... resist Mayor Durkan’s bullying tactics and anti-black obstructionism,” the activists said. “Specifically, [the] city council upheld their decision to divest from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) by $3 million – less than one percent of SPD’s annual budget – and invest modestly in black communities.”

The organizations were joined by other supporters in hailing the move, including local residents, one of which declared: “I love my anarchist jurisdiction” – a play on a designation recently slapped on Seattle, New York City and Portland, Oregon by the Department of Justice, which has vowed to strip the localities of federal funding.

Some residents were far less enthused, however, with one accusing the city council of “completely destroying Seattle” and governing only for “a select few who are the loudest.” Other netizens also voiced anger and disappointment with city lawmakers, even urging residents to flee the city.

“As a Seattle native (who will be leaving as soon as my responsibilities here are done) this was unsurprising and is merely the latest data point in the arc of leftist idiocy that we've been seeing here for the past 40-odd years,”wrote another local.

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