Council Finance Committee holds public hearing on budget; hundreds want to defund police


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A marathon meeting in Providence over the city’s budget for the coming year stretched from Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning.

The City Council Finance Committee held its first public hearing on the budget which ended up lasting nine hours. Hundreds testified saying they want to defund the police.

The meeting wrapped up around 2:30 a.m. as they approved a $370 million tax levy out of committee and now heads to the full council. The tax rate will remain the same. How this will be spent will be decided at a later time.

This was the first in-person council meeting since March after it was moved from June 9 when an attempt to take testimony over the Zoom video conference service resulted in racist trolls hijacking the meeting.

The meeting was made available for the public to view on Zoom, but the city asked residents who wanted to submit a public comment to do so in person. Public comments were also taken over Zoom.

Hundreds of people used their two minutes to support the idea of defunding the police, and there are many different things on what that could look like.

“I no longer accept that any of my tax money be put towards funding a service that harasses, disenfranchises, and actively destroys the lives of Black and brown community members,” one woman said.

Some expressed the desire to get rid of the department all together while others want a portion of the funding sent to other parts of the city’s budget.

“I’m here to call for defunding the police and to ask that we redistribute that funds, those funds, —- into education, health care, and so many different services that support the livelihoods of people,” another person said.

The Finance Committee heard from constituents for nearly all of the nine-hour meeting.

The Providence Police Union has said they are against any defunding of the department, adding that doing so would put public safety at risk.

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