Report: Four Philly Council Members Sought Police Budget Cuts During Week of Looting, Rioting

Police in Philadelphia patrolling streets during civil unrest. (Photo: Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Photo: Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

Four freshman city council members in Philadelphia vowed to seek budget cuts to the city police department during a week where more than 200 stores were looted in connection with the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr.

The four council members — Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Jamie Gauthier, and Kendra Brooks — pledged their support for cutting funding to the police during an online call with political activists in the area, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Inquirer reported the same group unsuccessfully pushed for the same cuts in June.

“Every councilmember on this call was on board for a higher level of cut to the police than we had,” Gauthier told call participants Friday, according to the report. “We couldn’t get enough to get the votes that we needed. I think we have to figure out where we’re cutting from and also what we’re investing in. I think we have to be very clear about that.”

In June, shortly after George Floyd’s death in Minnesota, the Philadelphia City Council nixed a $19 million budget increase for the police and moved $14 million in existing funds away from the police budget.

Police union leader John McNesby urged city leaders to show greater support for the city’s police department, suggesting the Wallace shooting was overexaggerated.

Two officers shot Wallace Monday after he charged at them while brandishing a knife, police said. Authorities said neither officer had a stun gun.

“We’re calling on the city leadership to release the facts of this case. It’s not hard. It’s cut-and-dry. Release what you have. Support your officers, back your officers. And let’s get a handle on this thing,” McNesby said in a video posted on Twitter.

City leaders said Friday that body camera footage and 911 recordings connected with the Wallace shooting would be released to the public next Wednesday in an arrangement that suited them and the Wallace family.

Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard also arrived in Philadelphia Friday to help local law enforcement to prevent additional looting and violence after several nights of unrest.

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