A year after the killing of George Floyd, as cities around the country face a surge in violent crime and a flood of new guns on their streets, city leaders and lawmakers who had once supported last year’s justice movement are now having second thoughts on just how far they are willing to go to to reimagine public safety and divert money away from the police and toward social services, reports the New York Times.
In Los Angeles, where the city administration last year agreed to take $150 million away from the Los Angeles Police Department, leaders essentially backtracked on their promise and restored the cuts made following last year’s protests by, instead, increasing the police budget to allow the department to hire about 250 officers.
Facing a 36 percent increase in murders last year, city leaders insist the move was necessary.
The problem is mirrored in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, where upticks in crime and violence are hounding election campaigns and reform promises of leaders under pressure to balance the demands of activists against the concerns of some residents about rising violence.
Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, The Washington Post reports that more than 200 Minneapolis police officers — a third of the force — have resigned or sought to leave the department since Floyd’s killing cast a harsh spotlight on policing here. The result has been a staffing shortage the mayor and police chief say has complicated efforts to respond to the rise in violence.
In December, the city council voted to shift nearly $8 million from the department’s budget to fund alternatives to policing, including the creation of mental health crisis teams and anti-violence efforts.
On Sunday, Reuters reports that the family of George Floyd, alongside hundreds of activists and and supporters, marched to both honor his memory and voice concerns for the continued racial disparities and lack of tangible reform in policing and the criminal justice system as a whole in the first of several events planned nationwide to mark the anniversary of his death.
The continued discontent and frustration with the lack of progress is highlighted in a recent Axios-Ipsos poll revealing that majorities across all racial and ethnic groups say the events of the past year prove there’s still a lot of racism in the nation.
But for all the demonstrations and talking, respondents said they felt that race relations actually got worse since this time last year — and there’s little agreement on how to proceed. 92 percent of Black respondents said there must be more changes before there can be equality between Black and white Americans. But just half of white Americans held that view, compared to 70 percent of Asian Americans and 65 percent of Hispanic Americans.