"Defund the police" has become a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that erupted following the killing in custody of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

People take part in a protest to defund the police in a place they are calling the
People take part in a protest to defund the police in a place they are calling the "City Hall Autonomous Zone" in support of "Black Lives Matter" in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, June 30, 2020. (Reuters)

Los Angeles has voted to cut the city's police budget by $150 million on Wednesday, acceding in part to demands made during last month's anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The measure was passed in a 12-2 vote by the city council, with much of the money to be rediverted to minority areas of Los Angeles.

"This is a step forward, supporting minority communities in ways in which they deserve – with respect, dignity and an even playing field," said Curren Price, the sole black member on the council's budget committee.

The cut will see the Los Angeles Police Department fall below 10,000 officers next summer, to its lowest level since 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The city has over 4 million residents.

Before the measure, the LAPD budget had been steadily growing for years to reach $1.86 billion, out of the city's total $10.5 billion budget.

Black Lives Matter protests swept Los Angeles and the nation following African American Floyd's death under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis in May.

READ MORE: In pictures: Police violence at protests against brutality

Organisers demanded the LAPD be "defunded" far beyond the scope of Wednesday's cut.

"I want to take this time to acknowledge Black Lives Matter-LA organisers and others for keeping our feet to the fire and demanding more from our government," said Price.

The LAPD cut comes as Los Angeles faces a massive budget deficit following the coronavirus lockdown.

READ MORE: Why are African Americans subject to more police violence?

NY cuts police budget 

New York City lawmakers have approved a disputed annual budget that purports to slash $1 billion from the NYPD.

Protesters have camped outside New York's city hall this past week demanding that money be shifted from America's largest police force to social services to help fight racial injustice.

Late Tuesday, members of New York's city council approved the government's budget for the new fiscal year starting Wednesday that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says cuts the NYPD's operating budget from about $6 billion to roughly $5 billion.
The cuts include scrapping the planned hiring of about 1,160 new police officers, as well as reducing overtime costs and redeploying administrative staff.

Trump not happy

US President Donald Trump lashed out at the cuts and the city's plan to paint a Black Lives Matter sign outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

"Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralised and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won't let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York's greatest street," he tweeted.

De Blasio hit back, saying black people "built 5th Ave and so much of this nation.

"Your 'luxury' came from THEIR labour, for which they have never been justly compensated," he wrote.

Shuffling money around?

Some council members argue the budget does not cut $1 billion from the NYPD and accuse the government of just moving money around.

They point out that roughly $400 million of the cuts come from shifting responsiblity for protecting public schools from the police to the education department.

Brooklyn councillor Brad Lander said he was voting no to the budget because it did not propose "real, meaningful cuts," including a hiring freeze on cops.

The NYPD has approximately 36,000 police officers, more than any other force in the United States.

It faces criticism for using force against largely peaceful protesters who demonstrated against the death of Floyd on May 25. De Blasio defended the heavy-handed tactics.

Activists outside city hall said they did not believe the cuts were genuine.

"I feel like this City Council is making a mockery of our demands.
They say that they're going to defund the police but they're just finding sneakier ways to fund them," 17-year-old Mary-Kate Mahaney, told.

The annual budget for New York has been slashed from $93 billion last year to $88 billion due to the Covid-19 outbreak that has crippled the Big Apple's economy.

De Blasio recently estimated that the epidemic, which has killed approximately 22,000 NYC residents, has cost the city $9 billion in lost revenues.

The mayor says that another $1 billion in labour savings needs to be found in the budget or 22,000 employees face being laid off in the fall.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies