ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Tensions were high Monday between Black Lives Matter organizers and some Rochester City Council members as the council proposed changes to the budget which could impact the Rochester Police Department.
At one point during Monday’s meeting there was a screaming match between a protester and City Councilmember.
Things escalated, but it all started outside City Hall when protesters demanded City Council cut RPD funding by 50%, saying police officers “perpetuate” crime.
“We believe that police make neighborhoods more dangerous and they perpetuate harm and violence,” said Stanley Martin, Black Lives Matter organizer.
Protesters walked with media into City Hall toward a press-only briefing on the 2021 budget, but the protesters were asked to stay outside of the room.
Then council members announced proposed amendments to the existing budget, which would include taking away police overtime from special events to provide $130,000 to the Department of Recreation for Youth Services.
Proposed amendments would also reduce the size of the incoming police recruits by more than 50%, which council members say would allow them to put $750,000 toward a task force to engage with the community.
Protesters eventually entered the room and engaged with council members.
“You are black, I am black, you have experienced police violence, I have experienced police violence,” Martin said. “So why is it so hard to acknowledge what we’re asking for, which is removing the funding from police officers who continue to terrorize us and help our communities thrive!”
“We are limited in what we can do as a City Council by the State of New York,” said Councilman Michael Patterson. “I was just talking about the small reforms the state just took.”
The aforementioned budget ammendments are just a few of the measures Rochester City Council wants to change regarding police reform.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.