To the Sacramento City Council and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors in charge of the allocation of funds to the Sacramento Police Department, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, and the County Jails they fill,
I am writing to demand that the County Board of Supervisors and the City Council invest in community-led public health and safety that redirects funding away from law enforcement. Our nation has been gripped by protests calling for rapid and meaningful change with regard to police behavior, an end to racism and anti-Blackness, and immediate reform in how Black people are treated in America. Sacramento and its government organizations are guilty of complacency in perpetuating systematic racism.
First, I fervently oppose the plans for a new Sacramento County jail tower and ask that you halt all investment in the design/build process. We should be reducing jail populations, not expanding the budget of Sacramento County’s jails. Please stop this reckless misuse of tax dollars and invest in real solutions to mental illness, substance use, and homelessness that prevent harm in our communities and actually keep us safe. Community-based organizations are ready to work with you to create alternative systems of accountability for our communities outside of the jail system.
Sacramento jail populations have already decreased over 30% since COVID-19 and we demand that the populations do not exceed 2,300, and that the jail populations be reduced to 50% capacity by 2021. Start by removing requirements for those recently released to return to jail and prioritizing those who are elderly and immunocompromised for immediate releases. Additionally, we need universal COVID-19 testing in Sacramento County Jails for all who consent, and free distribution of masks, soap and cleaning supplies to protect those remaining in custody from COVID-19, without resorting to solitary confinement.
As the city police and sheriff’s deputies continue to be sued for their violent abuses of human rights, our community demands that absolutely no money from the General Fund be used to pay their legal settlements. Lawsuits against Sacramento sheriff, police, and jails need to be paid for by their respective departments and salaries, not taken from our General Fund. We need you to ensure that the General Fund prioritizes reversing systematic disinvestment in Black communities by funding schools, healthcare, parks, libraries, and community-based programs in Black neighborhoods in Sacramento.
Call an emergency joint meeting of the City Council and County Board of Supervisors to address the response by law enforcement to the George Floyd protests. During this meeting, ensure that all public comments are heard by giving each individual at least 3 minutes to speak over a teleconferencing platform. The police are responding to protesters with are causing severe harm. Hold the Sacramento Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department accountable for the needless violence their rubber bullets and tear gas have inflicted, and end the use of these harmful weapons. Make them release all protestors still held in County Jails, drop all charges, stop making arrests, and create a plan to prevent any police presence at protests in the future. Transparency with the community is paramount and we demand updated data on daily citations, arrests, and incarcerations, with demographics.
Please call emergency budget meetings to begin the process of reducing spending on police and sheriff by at least 30% in the 2020/21 budget and to develop funding reduction strategies for the following 4 years with deep community involvement. The City Council must also immediately restore the looted $10 million from the Measure U funding. The CARES Act stimulus fund allocations at the city and county level need to be led by community-based, grassroots, organizations, and should not be spent on any law enforcement function.
The Sacramento Police Department propagates inequality in our city. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Black and Brown Sacramento residents have stories of police harassment, and the police are most violent when it comes to our most vulnerable populations: trans folks and unhoused people. Systems of oppression must be undone, and reallocating much of the budget for the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Sheriff’s Department to programs and community-led initiatives that support education, rehabilitation, public health, and community-oriented initiatives is a goal that must be achieved.
Moving forward, please refuse political contributions from law enforcement unions. You are supposed to work for the people of Sacramento. We can not achieve the drastic overhaul in policing while your hands are in their pockets.
Lastly, please come together to elect a new District Attorney and Sheriff who are committed to ending mass incarceration and to stopping the killing of Black People. Immediately rescind your endorsements for Anne Marie Schubert and Scott Jones, and work to elect new leaders committed to racial justice.
We are in the midst of widespread upheaval over the systemic violence of policing. We will no longer accept empty gestures and suggestions of “reform.” We are demanding that our voices be heard now, and that real change be made to the way this city and county allocates our resources. We need to reinvest in community-based programs that actually keep our communities safe.
Support for communities is needed now, more than ever. We demand that you listen to members of our community and fully pass the Black New Deal. We demand that the City Council defund the Sacramento Police Department. We demand that the Board of Supervisors defund the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. We join the calls of those across the country to defund the police. We demand a budget that adequately and effectively meets the needs of all Sacramento residents during this trying and uncertain time, when livelihoods are on the line. We demand a budget that supports community wellbeing, rather than one that empowers police forces that tear them apart.
As the City Council and County Board of Supervisors, the budget proposal is in your hands. It is your duty to represent your constituents. I am urging you to completely revise the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and to fund care, not cops and cages.
Thank you for your time,
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