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All eyes on city council as calls for defunding the police grow

People are emailing council to support the Black Lives Matter movement
Anti-racism demonstrators hold up signs in support of the Black community on Spring Garden Road in Halifax

On Sunday night, a majority group of councillors in Minneapolis announced they would move to dismantle the police force in that city. 

Now, calls to defund the police in Halifax have started to grow in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

All this comes as HRM Council is set to vote later today on a revised operating budget for the city, which had to be changed due to COVID-19.

Originally, the city cut $5.5 million from the police budget, but at an HRM Budget Committee meeting on May 26th, the cut was reduced to $3.5 million dollars with some councillors citing safety concerns. 

But things have changed in the past two weeks. 

Halifax has joined with the worldwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, and HRM Councillors have received hundreds of emails about defunding the police.

Tari Ajadi is a PhD Candidate at Dalhousie University who studies racism and public policy in Canada.

He tells The Sheldon MacLeod Show, the protests around the world, and the impacts of COVID-19, have given people a new insight into how people are mistreated under the current system.

“I think that people are now looking and saying, well what do our communities look like? Oh, they look like places where Black people get murdered by the police. And maybe that needs to change,” says Ajadi.

District nine councillor Shawn Cleary says this is an issue council must address, because not all situations call for a person with a gun.

“It’s not just a tweak here, a tweak, there, let’s hire some social workers. We need a complete restructure of what we do,” says Cleary.

It’s also expected there will be a conversation about the armoured vehicle council committed to purchasing in last year’s budget, with some councillors expressing second thoughts.

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