Mayor Stephen Hagerty talks with protesters over demands to defund the Evanston Police Department.

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A group of about 30 protesters walked yesterday from the lakefront home of Mayor Stephen Hagerty to the Morton Civic Center, where his office is located.

The group of young people – mostly highschool- and college-age – confronted the Mayor about his stance on defunding the Evanston Police Department. One protester held a sign saying “White Silence Is Violence.” One of the messages chalked on the sidewalk was “Eyes on Hagerty.”

Defunding does not mean disbanding but reallocating funds from strict enforcement to social services that could address the causes of crimes and things that are considered crimes.

Over the years, City Council has reduced staff in the City’s Health Department, eliminated the Victim Advocate position in the Police Department and reduced funding for mental health and other social services. Discussions about the 2021 budget have begun.

Last year, under the guidance of then-City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz on the eve of his departure, City Council approved a budget for 2021 as a “framework.” That budget could of course not have foreseen the economic cost of the pandemic or the social upheaval in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and others by police. 

The Evanston Police Department blocked off the section of Ridge Avenue for the protest.