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BLM Activists Call on Eugene To Reallocate Police Funding

Elizabeth Gabriel

Protesters with the Black Lives Matter movement have been pushing for defunding police in the wake of recent police killings of African-Americans.

Eugene activist and business owner Gracie Schatz has garnered nearly 11,000 signatures (as of Sunday) on her petitioncalling to defund Eugene police by 30 percent. She’d like that money to go to CAHOOTS, the service that offers crisis assistance to people on the streets in Eugene and Springfield. Schatz says she thinks the city is well set up to enact positive change.

“A lot of the people in this country are looking towards CAHOOTS and Eugene as a model for what the future can look like.” Says Schatz,  “So I feel like as a town we are uniquely set up to set an example for the entire country for what a better future can look like.”

In her petition, Schatz says CAHOOTS is better equipped than EPD to “deescalate harmful situations in a peaceful way.”

In an email to KLCC, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis says the council can only make minor changes to the city budget before June 30th, the end of the fiscal year. Anything significant would require a public hearing. She adds the city is committed to 21st Century Policing in its Community Safety Initiative.

“That initiative supports an increase in the number of police officers, but it also includes commitments to community programs like CAHOOTS, 15th Night, and Community Court.  My sense is that Council will be interested in a work session on the Community Safety Initiative in light of the demands posed by the 'Defund the Police' movement. “ Vinis says via email.

Sunday evening, members of BIPOC Liberation Collective planned a protest caravan to call for defunding Eugene Police before the Eugene City Council budget meeting on Monday evening (June 22).  There's no indication this effort is connected to Schatz's petition. There are several different groups that have branched off from the BLM movement in Eugene. 

Copyright 2020 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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