Dear Members of City Council & Office of Management and Budget,
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of Lynchburg. In these past weeks, our nation has been gripped by protests calling for rapid and meaningful reevaluation of the role of policing in our communities and an end to racism and anti-Blackness. Our own city has been inextricably involved in this movement, with its own set of profound events.
Accordingly, it has come to my attention that the budget for 2021 is being determined and adopted as these protests continue, and is set to be implemented in July. While we have been spending extraordinary amounts on policing, we are still seeing a rise in homelessness, safety concerns, and mental health needs in our city (according to 2018-2019 data). Unfortunately, we have seen that wasteful and harmful actions of our police ultimately contribute to perpetuating these community problems. The proposed $18 million to be allocated to the LPD in 2021 is more than the proposed 2021 allocation for Human Services, Community Development, and Parks/Recreation/Cultural combined .
I am urging you to meaningfully redirect funds from the LPD budget and instead use those extraordinary resources to address more effective social programs and services to support Black and Brown communities: COVID-19 relief, affordable housing, healthcare (including mental healthcare), access to food, and community-led centers and projects. These initiatives directly support your stated Priorities and Goals for our city as set forth in The Lynchburg Plan, and are much more effective at promoting safety and social equity than policing and incarceration.
I join in solidarity with the activists in Lynchburg and across the nation, and know that we can be a beacon for other cities to follow if we only have the courage to change. Can I count on you to join us and reallocate funds away from LPD to prioritize social and community programs going forward?
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]