Boston City Council members heard over four hours of public testimony on the city's budget Tuesday, almost all from community activists and ordinary residents urging the council to make cuts to the Boston Police Department. They want those funds redeployed toward non-police services like education, health and youth employment programs.

Many, though not all, adhered to a common request, or demand of the council: a minimum 10 percent cut to the more than $400 million annual Boston Police budget.

Dozens of residents weighed in, some waiting for hours for their chance to speak, via Zoom, from bedrooms, cars and backyards to a council that itself is still meeting and holding its hearings remotely.

The hearing took place as elected officials in cities around the country are grappling with similar calls amid continued demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, an African-American man killed by a Minneapolis police officer.

The number and diversity of speakers at Tuesday’s hearing reflected a local organizing campaign that has, over just the past two weeks, rapidly reached residents representing a broad range in terms of race, religion, class and neighborhood.

One of those organizers, Fatemah Ahmad of the Muslim Justice League, said her group was there to advocate not just on behalf of Muslim residents, but also for “people who are deemed inherently violent, or suspect.”

“We know what it’s like to be policed in every part of our lives,” Ahmad said.

Sumeya Ali, a student at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science and member of the Muslim Justice League, agreed.

“I don’t believe that a stronger police presence will protect our communities or make anyone who isn’t a white person feel any safer,” Ali said.

“The reality of my life is that as a black Muslim woman, the police are the reason I’m constantly paranoid and constantly concerned over the safety of my friends and my family.”

Alex Ponte-Capellan, a community organizer in Dorchester, emotionally described being groped, years ago, by a police officer during what he called an illegal frisk.

“I realized in that moment that I knew that it doesn’t matter what the laws say, it only matters in that moment who has the power. And in that moment, I know I didn’t have the power.”

He said the time for reform is long overdue.

“The whole world knows that this is happening. Our communities are overpoliced and underfunded,” said Ponte-Capellan, citing similar conversations taking place in cities including Los Angeles, New York and Minneapolis.

“Now that there's national attention on this […Boston] should be making moves, we want to be leading the country.”

Council members, including budget committee chair Kenzie Bok, mostly listened.

Several council members have voiced skepticism and in some cases deep criticism of particular BPD programs, notably over the past two weeks.

In the council’s weekly meeting last Wednesday, members, especially those of color, reflected emotionally on the death of George Floyd. Some pledged to push police reforms.

Council President Kim Janey has said she and her colleagues have an agenda for reform and they intend to pursue it.

Meanwhile, Councilors Michelle Wu and Ricardo Arroyo have sponsored an ordinance, now under consideration, that would ban facial-recognition surveillance by law enforcement; and Councilors Wu, Arroyo and Janey also have sponsored an ordinance that would require Council approval for various kinds of surveillance.

Among the more controversial BPD operations is a gang surveillance program that critics say targets, with minimal justification, minority communities and youth.

Council members have stopped short of embracing the language of "de-funding" or funding cuts. It's unclear whether those Council members pushing general reform have enough support from their colleagues to potentially force the mayor's hand or hold up the budget, which is due by the end of June.

Mayor Marty Walsh, meanwhile, canceled a press conference Tuesday. A spokesperson for Walsh said he did not want to interfere with ceremonies honoring George Floyd's life, which were held at the same time.

In a statement Tuesday, Walsh said he has been reaching out to City Council President Kim Janey to discuss police matters and police funding and will continue to talk with the council.

"I've spent the last week talking with my cabinet and employees at City Hall about how do we not just react to the events in Minneapolis, but make sure we are responding in a way that’s meaningful and brings about systemic change," the statement read.

"Now is a time to roll up our sleeves and get real work done, not separately as the Mayor and City Council, but together as one government."