Black Lives Matter protesters calling to defund South Bend Police Department

NOW: Black Lives Matter protesters calling to defund South Bend Police Department

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Black Lives Matter made their voices heard on Monday ahead of the Common Council’s vote over increasing South Bend police salaries.

The group gathered for a second time on Monday in front of the Common Council building in downtown South Bend, demanding that the council vote ‘no’ on the bill.

“I think that the system we have right now isn’t working and I think the money could go toward better resources for people in the community,”said Norah Gaffron, who lives in Osceola.

Dozens and dozens of people stood against the bill that would increase police salaries.

The South Bend Common Council voted on the measure Monday afternoon, ultimately tabling the bill as the Black Lives Matter movement is hoping to see more community-based policing than higher dollars going towards the city’s officers.

Councilman Jake Teshka was the only council member who did not support tabling the measure.

Black Lives Matter said they hope the council will consider giving that money towards what they say is a police department with a long record of officer misconduct.

“I think there are a lot of things that we call upon the police for that could be better done by other groups in the community,” said Margo Naragon, a South Bend resident. “We need interventionists in the community, people who are better trained to de-escalate situations. And they know how to do so without violence.”

Naragon was just one of many protesters calling to defund the police department. Protesters would rather see the money go towards other areas of the city.

Harvey Mills, South Bend FOP President said that getting the approval from the council would mean that the department could get more funds to reach candidates—diverse candidates.

The ‘yes’ vote could help build trust within the community, especially as the department falls well below the curve of crime rates per capita, according to Mills.

Mills said there are a lot of outreach programs done between the community and the South Bend Police Department, more than a lot of other agencies.

“And we want to continue to do that,” Mills said. ”We’ll take a dozen more, we’ll take a hundred more. Whatever it takes to partner with our community and bring them together with us.

Mills said a ‘yes’ from the council would help rebuild the police department, but they are not counting on the bill to pass.

“That’s very disheartening as our police department struggles to continue to hire diverse candidates,” Mills said. “This proposal by the mayor, which we really appreciate, is a great step in trying to attract candidates to our area.”

The Common Council voted to table the bill on Monday evening, meaning the bill is on hold.

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