Recall effort launched in Norman, Okla. after $865,000 cut from police budget


Residents in Norman, Okla., launched a petition on Friday to recall the city's mayor and several members of its city council.

The petition was started by a group called "Unite Norman" amid frustrations over the council's decision last month to reallocate $865,000 — or nearly 3.6 percent — of the police department's annual budget, according to The Associated Press.

The reallocated funding was moved to community development programs to form an internal auditor position to track law enforcement overtime spending as well as outlays. 

Last month, city leaders voted on the proposal following a heated 11-hour city council meeting held amid nationwide protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis in late May.

"When this City Council succumbed to an angry mob at three o'clock in the morning and decided to undo months of budget discussions, we all said enough is enough," said Chris Dragg, one of the group's organizers. "We care too much about Norman and our law enforcement officers to let Norman be run this way."

Unite Norman said they are a nonpartisan group, according to CBS affiliate News 9.

"We are trying to get rid of radicals," Russell Smith with Unite Norman said. "This has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican, left or right. We want to center the ship here in Norman."

Residents in support of the group take issue with Mayor Breea Clark's decision to impose mandatory mask requirements following a surge of coronavirus cases. Clark has also been criticized for her decision to keep some businesses and houses of worship closed, despite other openings across the state.

Norman, the third-largest city in Oklahoma, has reported a total of 1,208 total COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said she would release a statement on the group's recall effort as early as Friday.

In order to recall the mayor, Unite Norman would need to gather signatures from at least 25 percent of registered voters in under 30 days. The same stipulation applies for individual city council members.

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