Dear Birmingham City Council, staff, and Executive departments,
My name is [NAME] and I am a resident of Birmingham. I urge you and the rest of the city council to amend the future budget for 2021 and all future budgets. I would like to redirect money away from BPD and into social service programs that will benefit public health and our own communities, especially communities of color. The recently passed budget for 2020 suggests that the largest fraction of the city’s budget should go to policing ($92,775,797), which is over 30% larger than even the second largest allocation of funds, fire ($67,814,889).
Birmingham is planning to spend $19,959,925 on Education, Transportation, Housing for Mentally Ill, Youth Programs, City Owned Arts/Recreation Centers, Emergency Medical System, and Social Services. Birmingham is planning to spend 4.65 times more on the police than on social programs to better the future of this city. This planned spending is not consistent with the stated values of the city: Safe, Secure, and Sustainable Communities; Healthy, Thriving, and Diverse Neighborhoods; High-Performing 21st Century Education and Workforce Development Systems; etc. If this is truly representative of the council’s thoughts on how funds should be allocated in a city in which over 1,000 of my neighbors (Birmingham + Jefferson County) are currently experiencing homelessness and in which nearly 59,000 of my neighbors (downtown Birmingham) are impoverished and at risk of becoming homeless, I am ashamed to call Birmingham my home and I am ashamed to call you my elected officials.
"Crime" is not random. "Crime" usually happens when someone has been unable to meet their basic needs. More jobs, more educational opportunities, more arts programs, more community centers, more mental health resources, as well as more of a say in how our own communities function, have proven to be much more effective at promoting community safety than policing. This is a long transition process but change starts with reallocating this funding!
We don't need a militarized police force. We need to create a space in which more mental health service providers, social workers, victim/survivor advocates, religious leaders, neighbors, and friends - all of the people who really make up our community - can look out for one another. Mayor Woodfin, Council Members, will you look out for me, and will you look out for us?
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]