LOS ANGELES – The outrage over George Floyd’s death arrived at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s front door in the form of hundreds of protesters gathered outside his home, loudly chanting to gut funding for the police department.
There was anger about curfews and the use of rubber bullets by police to disperse protesters. The mayor also heard calls for the resignation of police Chief Michel Moore.
It was the kind of pained outcry the popular mayor who was born and raised in Los Angeles has rarely seen since taking office seven years ago, much less at the threshold of his home.
Garcetti responded Wednesday by announcing the city would abruptly reverse plans for boosting LAPD’s spending and instead redirect $250 million from the city budget into programs for health care, jobs and “healing” aimed largely at the black community.
His decision came with a price. Los Angeles' police union Friday labeled Garcetti “unstable” and accused him of political pandering after he referred to “killers” in remarks about the proposed spending change.
The union saw that remark directed at them, and warned the cut in spending would lead to more crime. The Democratic mayor “smeared every single police officer in Los Angeles and across the nation by calling us killers,” union board member Jamie McBride said. It's “offensive. It's wrong.”
Garcetti had referred to the shift in funds Thursday at a church event, saying it had attracted attention from other mayors who talked about doing the same thing. “It starts someplace, and we say we are going to be who we want to be, or we’re going to continue being the killers that we are,” Garcetti said.
At a Friday briefing, the mayor said the shift in funding “is not an attack on any police officers,” but would come from agencies across city government. He said his comment on “killers” was misunderstood — he said he was referring to the collective burden of society for injustices that remain in the black community.