Demonstrators gather ahead of Seattle police votes

SEATTLE (AP) — Demonstrators have started gathering in Seattle ahead of upcoming votes by city officials on reduced funding for police.

Hundreds of people including pro-police supporters and counter-protesters assembled opposite city hall Sunday afternoon.

The Seattle City Council last week in a unanimous preliminary vote decided to reduce the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition. Final votes are expected this week.

Reduced funding for police has been pushed by demonstrators in Seattle and in other cities across the U.S. following George Floyd’s killing in police custody in Minneapolis.

The amendments approved by the city council last week would save only about $3 million of the departments $400 million annual budget this year. But council members said they want to send a message.

Seattle's mayor and police chief have opposed the budget changes.

Supporters of the proposals say policing money be reallocated to other public safety approaches, housing, social services and programs led by Black people.