- Victoria Miller
We Support Communities of Color
Greetings Dear Activists,
Today we detail why it’s so important to demand that City Council vote down Mayor Kenney’s budget as far as it increases funding for the police. We are in solidarity with the Black community and communities of color in this. We ask that Philadelphia “Defund Police.” The terminology is a little confusing so –
What does “Defund Police” mean?
Multiple racial justice and other activist leaders and writers have offered descriptions, and here is a representative one from a recent article in the Washington Post, “When we talk about defunding the police, what we’re saying is, invest in the resources that our communities need,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza told NBC News’s “Meet the Press”on Sunday. “So much of policing right now is generated and directed towards quality-of-life issues,” she said. “What we do need is increased funding for housing, we need increased funding for education, we need increased funding for the quality of life of communities who are over-policed and over-surveilled.”
Today is the only public hearing on the 2021 Philadelphia city budget regarding PPD funding. If at all possible, please contact City Council Members before 3:00 pm and tell them you want to see no increased funding for the Philadelphia Police Department and more funding for programs that support people in our Black communities and communities of color. If you can't do it by 3:00 call or email anyway, and do it all this week. The budget discussions go on for the rest of the month.
Here’s why – The Philadelphia Police Department is the single largest city budget item, at 16% of the budget without counting pension costs.
Here are some details about the current budget as it relates to the police department according to this WHYY report.
$23 million (approx.) increase to the PPD including at 2.5% pay increase and new hiring
50% decrease in the community grant fund within the PPD budget, which targets violence prevention
18% decrease in funding for the Police Advisory Commission the (civilian oversight board)
$2.5 million (21%) reduction in anti-violence efforts (serving at-risk youth and families)
$370 million reduction to a variety of departments such as housing programs, street sweeping expansion, opioid initiatives.
A good breakout of City budget expenditures is in this Inquirer article, listing about 25% of the city’s budget allocated to criminal justice (police, prisons, sheriff, District Attorney’s office).
Does more money for PPD reduce crime?
The history of the many PPD increases under Mayor Kenney show that they do not result in lower crime rates. According to this WHYY report:
“Kenney has not so far seen increases in police funding correlate with a drop in violent crime. Policing is the largest single component of the city budget, encompassing fully 16% of the city’s $4.89 billion general fund expenditures, not counting related pension costs. Under Kenney’s tenure, the PPD budget has grown by about 30% — up from about $640 million in 2015. Yet shootings and homicides have generally increased.
Homicides rose in parity with revenue increases, jumping nearly 30% between 2015 and 2019. The clearance rate for homicides, meanwhile, dropped from 57% to 50%.”
What types of expenditures decrease crime rates?
Several that Philadelphia plans to cut: Access to healthcare, programs to reduce substance abuse, to support community organizations. Research from a study by the Brennan Center concluded, rather than increases in incarceration costs, “considering the immense social, fiscal, and economic costs of mass incarceration, programs that improve economic opportunities, modernize policing practices, and expand treatment and rehabilitation programs, all could be a better public safety investment.”
And to top it all off, we’ve seen the police violence on display during the last two weeks of protests. You can see more for why we are joining in the movement to “Defund Police” and invest in Black communities on this Indivisible page.
What we demand: That Philadelphia commit to cut funding for the police and invest in Black community-led education, health and safety programs (such as schools and youth homelessness services, solutions to the opioid crisis, non-police responders for crises such as mental health response teams). This is in support of what local Black-led organizations have asked, like Reclaim the Block and national Black-led organizations like Movement for Black Lives.
TODAY (and the rest of the week)– submit written testimony directly for City Council's budget hearing to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3:00 pm today. Or use this handy link to easily send a message to City Council Members.Today is not the end of the story – keep up the calls and emails so Council and the Mayor know we are not going away on this demand.
DISTRICT MEMBERS – find your specific District Council Member here
AT-LARGE MEMBERS – Contact all of them
Kendra Brooks: email@example.com, (215) 686-0461; (215) 686-0462
Allan Domb: firstname.lastname@example.org, (215) 686-3414,;(215) 686-3415
Derek Green: email@example.com, (215) 686-3450, (215) 686-3451
Katherine Gilmore Richardson: firstname.lastname@example.org; (215) 686-0454; (215) 686-0455
Helen Gym: email@example.com, (215) 686-3420; (215) 686-3421
David Oh (R): firstname.lastname@example.org, (215) 686-3452; (215) 686-3453
Isaiah Thomas: email@example.com (215) 686-3446, (215) 686-3447
Update: Several City Council members recently signed a letter denouncing the budget and asking for cuts to the police, so we need to (1) continue to put pressure on this issue with them, and (2) put particular pressure on those who haven't:
O'Neill (District 10--far Northeast)
Henon (District 6--Tacony, Mayfair, Holmesburg, Lexington Park, Holme Circle, Ashton, Bridesburg, Wissinoming, Port Richmond, East Torresdale, Castor Gardens, Oxford Circle, Rhawnhurst, Bells Corner, Winchester Park, Academy Gardens, Pennypack and Frankford)
Oh (At-Large--we can all pressure him!)
Here’s a script:
Proposing a nearly $23 million dollar increase for the Philadelphia Police Department while cutting budgets for public health, homeless services, streets, libraries, arts, and parks and recreation is unacceptable.3 million in increased funding for the Philadelphia Police Department.
Proposing a nearly $23 million dollar increase for the Philadelphia Police Department while cutting budgets for public health, homeless services, streets, libraries, arts, and parks and recreation is unacceptable.
I demand that any budget that increases police funding be rejected. I demand that the City divest from police and invest in Philadelphia’s Black communities. I demand that the funds are reallocated to affordable health care, education and housing that is desperately needed. I demand that police be held accountable for the use of excessive force and violence against Black communities, not rewarded for it. We deserve better and I demand more.
What else can you do?
1. Support Organizations Helping #BlackLivesMatter Protestors – Organizations on the front lines need all the support we can give them. Use this page to split your donations among organizations supporting groups in Minnesota and nationwide.
2. Donate to the Philadelphia Bail Fund to keep over policed people of color and protesters being met with violence out of jail.
3. Watch the Wilma’s live streaming production of“Kill Move Paradise”about black men slain by police, to benefit Black Lives Matter Philly. It is streaming from today through June 21.
Update on the Omar-Pressley House bill to condemn police violence in last week’s CTA. All of our House Members have now co-sponsored the bill, so great work!!
POSTCARD PROJECT – NO EXCUSES PHILLY VBM
But at the end of the day, what really matters? VOTING!
Join us in our new program to get out the vote in Philadelphia. We’re writing postcards to at least 50,000 Philadelphia Democratic voters to encourage them to Vote By Mail (VBM). We have good evidence from studies in Florida that sending these postcards will result in more votes. We have already sent out over 12,000 addresses to more than 100 volunteers working on this project! So many of you are doing a fabulous job and we hope more of you will sign up here. (Yes, this link works!)
Here’s the plan.
Over the next 20 weeks until the November election, we will write at least 50,000 postcards to Philadelphia Democrats. We are targeting areas with low VBM sign-up rates. These are typically underserved communities of color and areas of high COVID-19 rates as well. We believe these are areas we can have the most impact.
Many of you have already started writing in this project – thank you! But we need all hands on deck! We hope you all will sign up for this exciting project. Click this link to sign up (this link works!)
Here’s how it works:
1. You buy pre-stamped postcards from the Postal Service either at your local post office or online at this link. They are 39 cents each and we recommend you buy at least 100 postcards.
2. We will send you the instructions for writing the postcards, the script, and the addresses.
3. You’ll write the postcards and mail them as they are completed.
4. We’ll have Zoom postcard parties you can join if you want, Zoom office hours to say hi and answer questions, and some other fun stuff along the way.
Click this link to sign up.
So are you in?
Philadelphia MUST carry Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania MUST help carry the country to a Blue Victory. So help us make that happen!
Click this link to tell us you want to win in November.
Join a Zoom postcard party or write cards at home on your own. It all helps! We couldn’t be more thrilled that you are part of this work.
Virtual Postcard Events
We’ll be doing these events twice per week so order your postcards now. The Zoom meeting link will be at the bottom of your confirmation email. For easy access, all of our events are at this link.
Virtual Cards & Coffee – Every Wednesday – see you tomorrow!
Sign up for any Wednesday – Pick the date you want when you sign up, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm (stay for as long as you want). Sign up here.
Virtual Cards & Cocktails – Every Thursday
Sign up for any Thursday – Pick the date you want when you sign up. 6-8 pm (stay for as long as you want). Sign up here.