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Protesters confront Bakersfield City Council over police budget

Bakersfield City Council (FILE)
Posted at 8:43 AM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 11:47:57-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Protesters addressed the Bakersfield City Council Wednesday night demanding changes to the Bakersfield Police Department. Specifically, the reallocation of funds from the BPD to other community programs. 23ABC's Kylie Walker explained the call for change.

Members of the organization Peoples Budget Bakersfield along with residents who say they are Black Lives Matter activists, stood before Bakersfield City Council members in a meeting Wednesday night demanding action.

"My daughter who is 8 years old is afraid to go to the post office because she's afraid the police will murder her," said one speaker. I can't tell her that is false because time history and current events have shown that is emphatically true."

"This isn't Minnesota but we have our own local George Floyd's here in Bakersfield.. I hear all these false hopes and see no action," said another.

"Your silence is complacency. If you don't listen tonight you are just as guilty as the murderers who continue to kill black people," added another.

Daulton Jones with the Peoples Budget Bakersfield told 23ABC when they say "Defund the Police" they mean they want to see police budgets reduced and redistributed throughout the community.

"Because what can not happen is we allow 41 percent of the fund to go to police yet again," explained Jones.

The group says they want to invest those city dollars in programs such as free mental health care access, programs to help build economic equity among the black community, and universal needs such as affordable housing among other programs.

"This is your money. You should be allowed to say where it goes. So if anything comes out of this we need a participatory budget process in this city," added Jones.

And members of Wednesday night's protests said they've tried meeting with council members and have tried to contact them but have received no response for years.

"Four years and when Measure N was put on the ballot there was a committee that community members were supposed to sit on to decide where funds should be allocated to. Well none of the community members were chosen and we found out there was a hidden agenda," said Jones.

During all of the comments council members only thanked residents for speaking on the topic.

Now, what is public comment? It's the portion of a city council meeting when residents are allowed to speak directly to council members allowing them to voice their view on any city matter. Residents do have a time limit so the council can hear multiple people, but during Wednesday's meeting that portion was extended 30 extra minutes.

If you'd like to speak during public comment the next city council meeting is slated for July 15th. Check the Bakersfield city website for speaking rules.