By Jim Tortolano
The issue of “defunding police” – or at least slashing law enforcement budgets – took up more than two hours of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Garden Grove City Council.
During the public comment section, over two dozen persons spoke, most of them young people calling for sharply reducing the budget of the local police department and devoting its funding to education and programs such as affordable housing, homeless outreach, mental health facilities and more.
Anton Nguyen said, “The Garden Grove Police Department is overfunded. I am calling on the Garden Grove City Council to defund the police department. I am asking for the re-allocation of funds. Now is the time.”
Darius Durham II, a coach at Garden Grove High School and a teacher at La Quinta High in Westminster, recalled driving in the city and having been pulled over by police. The flashing red and blue lights brought fear to the two young black men in the car, he said.
“What are you doing in this neck of the woods?” he was asked. Durham went on to say that his car was searched and he was given a field sobriety test simply because – in his opinion – he and his friend were black.
To people who reported no problems with police, he said that was an example of “white privilege.”
Not all the speakers supported the idea that the GGPD annual budget – listed as $67 million – be cut by $30 million or more.
“I’ve had good experiences with the Garden Grove Police Department,” said John Holm. “You have an excellent police department here. You get a lot for your buck.”
Maureen Blackmun, president of the Garden Grove Neighborhood Association, said, “I reject the notion of defunding the police,” and called on Councilmember Kim Nguyen to work as a bridge between the city and residents on issues raised at the meeting.
The one speaker who drew applause from both sides was Maserati Shellz, who described himself as a rapper. He attended Ralston Intermediate and Rancho Alamitos High School where he was the only black student in each place, he said. “There aren’t a lot of black people in Garden Grove.”
He told the crowd that “There’s no way the police are going to be de-funded,” he said. “The police are doing their job.”
He supported reform in policing, but cautioned that the process would take some work. “It doesn’t happen overnight.” He added that “Garden Grove is a great community,” and urged activists to continue to work to improve it and solve problems.
Because the comments were for discussion only, there was no action taken by the council. However, Police Chief Tom DaRe did give the council a report on issues in law enforcement in Garden Grove.
The next regular meeting of the city council is set for July 14.
Categories: Garden Grove