After about an hour of public comment on a single budget amendment item, Norman Mayor Breea Clark moved to delay the vote on the city budget for one week. The rest of the council agreed unanimously.
A crowd of protesters stormed city hall and the council chambers on Tuesday night in support of defunding the police department, which was one of six demands listed by the Norman Citizens for Racial Justice (NC4RJ) last weekend.
The demands included defunding and demilitarizing the police department, ensuring transparency and accountability at the Norman Police Department, ending the city’s school resource officer program and more.
“We don’t need cops in our schools. That money could have a social worker in our school,” one woman yelled to the crowd that gathered in Andrews Park before the city council meeting.
Before the meeting, the proposed city budget included an increase in the NPD budget from about $22.6 million to $23.3 million.
One NC4RJ organizer, who requested anonymity due to recent threats against the group, said the goal of defunding police involves moving money from the department to other child services, social workers, and other areas.
“It may seem intimidating to imagine because they have so closely correlated for so long, the idea that policing and public safety are one in the same, but we have to have a broader understanding of what public safety means,” they said.
Some members of NC4RJ met with Clark and the Norman police chief before the meeting. Neither the city nor the police department issued a statement following the meeting.
Before the meeting started, Clark said, “We’re continuing to engage in important conversations with members of our community.”