Dear Duluth City Council,
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of Duluth, MN.
I am writing to you today to demand the council defund the Duluth Police Department. I stand in solidarity with protesters across the country who are out in the streets in response to the horrific murders of George Floyd, a Black man, by the Minneapolis police, and are appalled by the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless others.
People have been left without the resources they need. Jobs and livelihoods will take a long time to recover. And most of all, Black citizens of Duluth continue to live in a city that is currently upholding White Supremacy, enforced by guns of the DPD. I stand with the anti-racist movement in our city in saying that we will no longer accept empty gestures and suggestions of reform.
You must be aware that our low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionate targets of police violence. An audit conducted by BerryDunn in a 2019 report lays out the injustice in the Duluth Police Department. Yet little is revealed to the public about the progress of reformation. Justice will only be served when our vision of safety is based on community, equality, and justice. This will not be possible until we defund DPD.
According to the 2020 Budget Book, the DPD approved expenditure was around $24 million, paying for salaries, benefits, and "other expenses." This is about 26% of the $92.9 million general fund, more than Property, Parks, Libraries, and Public Works combined.
I call on the Duluth City Council to take the following actions:
- Redirect funds divested from policing towards social programs and resources that support housing, jobs, education, health care, child care, and other critical community needs.
- Commit resources to support community-led alternatives to policing.
- Propose plans for ensuring the safety of Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized people in our community from racial profiling by police and other security forces, with input from members of the marginalized communities themselves.
- Issue statements condemning these recent murders.
Although the murder of George Floyd was the catalyst for these recent protests, it was not the sole cause. Black people have been subjected to centuries of state terror, and economic and social exclusion. The current protests reflect concerned members of society taking direct, collective action to demand an end to the abuse and violence directed against Black people. I am urging you, and the rest of the Duluth City Council, to adopt a budget that defunds the police and funds non-violent, community-led health and safety strategies.
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]