Today I’m seeing lots of black squares in my social media, but we shouldn’t stop there. If we’re too scared of Covid to go out into the streets and protest, while we’re sitting at home safe we should be researching what we can do to help, donating money to community bail funds, and writing to lawmakers and policy people about specific actions they can take.
Based on what I’ve found so far, below is a good place to start. Professor Alex Vitale wrote a book called The End of Policing – free as an ebook here (click the ebook tab) – and posted recommended scripts about defunding the police and why it matters. I’ve pasted his script which I expanded on a bit, and a small list of NYC policy people he recommends contacting today.
If you want a quick primer on why this matters and don’t have time to read the book right now, read his summary here from The Guardian.
Then, if you’re in NYC, join me and send this script to the people below.
Melanie Hartzog, NYC budget director
Chair of Committee on Finance
Donovan Richards, Public Safety Chair
Jumaane Williams, NYC public advocate
[EMAIL SUBJECT LINE]
NYC resident request re: NYPD for FY21 budget
My name is [NAME] and I am a resident of [BOROUGH]. Last April, Mayor De Blasio proposed major budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2021, especially to education and youth programs, while refusing to slash the NYPD budget by any significant margin. I urge you to consider pressuring the office of the mayor towards an ethical and equal reallocation of the NYC expense budget away from NYPD, and towards social services and education programs, effective at the beginning of FY21, July 1st.
I am emailing to ask for an emergency council meeting among city officials regarding this matter. Governor Cuomo has recently doubled the NYPD presence in response to the protests happening around the city. I am asking that you lobby for the same amount of attention and effort towards finding sustainable, longterm change so we don’t have to be doing this again. Because it will happen again if our response is continuously to throw more police force at the problem without addressing the roots.
Thank you for your hard work on trying to make this city better. I can only imagine how stressful and difficult this time is for you personally and professionally. I hope my message and the others like it you receive will motivate you, with the knowledge that more of us are trying to educate ourselves and be better participants too.
Please see this important summary of Alex Vitale’s research on the subject. As he details here, in recent years in Minneapolis many of the expected police reform policies were implemented, and did not work: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/31/the-answer-to-police-violence-is-not-reform-its-defunding-heres-why