Protesters demand an end to police violence as City Council reduces LBPD budget by 1%

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Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Around 50 protesters gathered for an “End Police Violence” protest on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at Recreation Park. The event was organized by the People’s Budget Coalition, which consists of several community groups including Move Long Beach Forward, Long Beach Immigrants Rights Coalition, the Long Beach chapters of Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Socialists of America, with the purpose to hold elected officials accountable for “protecting killer cops” according to an event flyer that circulated social media.

On the same day that Long Beach City Council approved the City’s $2.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021, around 50 protesters gathered for an “End Police Violence” protest on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at Recreation Park.

The event was organized by the People’s Budget Coalition, which consists of several community advocacy groups including Move Long Beach Forward, Long Beach Immigrants Rights Coalition, Long Beach Residents Empowered, the Long Beach chapters of Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Socialists of America, with the purpose to hold elected officials accountable for “protecting killer cops” according to an event flyer that circulated social media.

“The budget is not just a document, the budget is a moral document, talking about what this city prioritizes, and we see time and time again that the city does not prioritize us,” said Sheila Bates from BLM LB. “The city does not prioritize Black Lives, the city does not try to prioritize the people, the city prioritizes the police.”

That same evening, LB City Council approved the 2021 budget which included a one percent reduction in LBPD’s budget, while the People’s Budget Coalition had advocated for a 20 percent reduction.

Speakers brought up points including defunding the police and divesting it into schools, the Long Beach Police Officers Association funding councilmembers and running candidates, record destruction, and the Citizen’s Police Complaint Commission.

“For the first time in a very long time in this city, something is changing, people in the community like you all are realizing that the budget process is broken, or rather, in fact, it is working by design because it was designed by power structures that perpetuate white supremacy,” said James Suazo, associate director of Long Beach Forward.

The group then began marching to councilmember Suzie Price’s home a few blocks away. While her council position is a part-time gig, Price also works as a district attorney in Orange County. She is also the Chair of the City’s Public Safety Committee and the Vice-Chair of the Budget Oversight Committee.

“How can we trust her to be on public safety,” Bates said. “How can we trust her vote- that her vote is for us. It’s not for us, it’s for the POA [Police Officers Association], and we know that and that’s why we are here”.

Along the march down 6th Street, an older white man who was walking his dog on the sidewalk paused before approaching the protesters when he yelled out, “Hail Trump”. He extended his right arm upwards, similar to a nazi salute before he turned and walked away as protesters continued making their way up the street.

Protesters stand in front of Councilmembers Suzie Price’s home in the 3rd District with caskets that had the names of individuals who were killed by Long Beach Police Department officers. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)

The protesters made their way up to Los Altos Avenue until they reached Price’s house in the Los Alamitos neighborhood in the wealthy 3rd District. A series of speakers followed, and ultimately three caskets with the names of individuals who were killed by LBPD were left on the lawn of Price’s home.

The march then continued on to 7th Street until they reached the busy intersection of 7th and Pacific Coast Highway where they stopped traffic.

While some vehicles honked in solidarity, with passengers in vehicles raising their fists up in the air, others honked in agitation, a few attempting to get around the standstill traffic.

One white couple in a vehicle who had their windows down began to yell out, “All lives matter.” A heated discussion with some of the protesters and the couple began to ensue with protesters then surrounding the car to prevent the couple from driving around them as the woman in the vehicle yelled, “I don’t agree with what you’re doing.”

A white couple in a vehicle who had their windows down began to yell out, “All lives matter,” ensuing a heated discussion with some of the protesters at the intersection of 7th Street and Pacific Coast Highway on Tuesday, Sept. 8. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)

A few minutes later the protesters walked back towards Recreation Park, making a stop at Price’s house where they saw the caskets they left behind had been removed and nowhere in sight.