A Bakersfield City Councilman awoke Saturday to find four signs stuck in his lawn calling to ‘defund the police,’ after the City Council approved a $683 million budget to hire 28 new sworn police officers.
Chris Parlier, an Air Force veteran and retired special agent for the California Department of Justice, reported the vandalism Saturday morning, according to Bakersfield.com. The signs, written in blood-red paint, reportedly call out Parlier’s career in law enforcement, advocate to defund the police and celebrate Juneteenth. Red handprints were also scattered across his sidewalk, Bakersfield.com reported.
“I was shocked because this is Bakersfield, and we’re a good, tightknit community. And I didn’t think some of these political distractions that are happening in other areas would come to literally my doorstep,” he told the outlet in a phone interview. “I’ve always considered myself a middle of the road councilmember. I only ran for council for one thing and that’s to do the right thing for my city and my community.”
On June 16, the City Council allotted $13.4 million to the Bakersfield Police Department during a meeting for the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. Mayor Karen Goh was forced to clear the City Chambers shortly after the vote due to disruptive protesters demanding the council defund the police, according to Bakersfield.com. (RELATED: City Councilman Who Voted To Withhold Funds From The Police Has Car Stolen By Kids In Broad Daylight)
“To the defund the police crowd: protesting in the public square is your right. Visiting and vandalizing my home is inexcusable!” Parlier wrote in a Facebook post, “You cannot bully and intimidate the peaceful neighborhoods of Bakersfield. There is a line between civil disobedience and vandalism. You have crossed it.”
Parlier addressed the vandalism during a press conference on Saturday surrounded by his neighbors, who view the vandalism as “an attack on them too,” according to Bakersfield.com. Although Parlier did not speculate over the identity of the vandals, a group called People’s Budget Bakersfield posted a photograph of the signs on Instagram, allegedly taking credit.
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The movement to defund the police has gained traction throughout the country since George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, spurring protests to slash department budgets. However, cities that have strongly protested against the police are now seeing a surge in violence. The Minneapolis City Council voted on June 12 to “dismantle” the police but complained three months later about the uptick in violent crime.