Although it is only in its early stages, Harris is helping to organize a group of black community members and develop a plan addressing and educating residents on issues faced by black residents.
Harris said while there might be places for which funding needs to be shifted, she felt those pushing for the abolition of police departments were co-opting the larger conversation about the lived experience of black residents.
“How do we have a conversation about Black Lives Matter, and what exactly does that mean here in Flagstaff and for us here on this mountain in terms of African American people and their lived experience?” Harris said. “We’re absolutely clear and we absolutely understand that all lives matter; however, the conversation needs to come back to black lives because they have been disproportionately at risk.”
Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans said she and her colleagues on the council had received about 60 emails both for and against reducing police funding as of Wednesday evening.
Evans said she couldn’t read the tea leaves as to what the discussion might look like next week but said if the majority of Council wants to reduce police funding, the city will do so before the deadline.
But Evans said she would personally oppose such a change to the budget.
“I don’t see merit in reducing police funding, as an individual, as one member of Council,” Evans said. “The fact of the matter is the budget that we will be discussing on Tuesday is reflective of the community resources we have at this time. I think Council spent a lot of time over the past few months on this budget and I am interested in moving forward with the budget as it is currently proposed.”