Dear Mayor Curtatone and Somerville City Council members,
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of [YOUR WARD] in Somerville, MA. I am writing to demand that you take specific measures to reduce funding for police in the city of Somerville. The Mayor and the members of the city council have a responsibility to communities of color in Somerville to take immediate steps to decrease funding to the police, while reinvesting those funds into Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities most directly impacted by police violence and disinvestment.
Our city faces dire crises during the COVID-19 epidemic that can’t be solved by policing. Thousands of community members have lost wages and face food-insecurity due to the economic crisis that is unfolding in this community. Some face the risk of forced removal as soon as the eviction ban is lifted and I recognize that these conditions only exacerbate the long-standing inequalities in Somerville that have displaced communities of color from this area.For far too long the status quo has forced essential educators to live on starvation wages while overwhelming community demands to right this glaring injustice are ignored. Meanwhile, our Police Department hoards hundreds of thousands of dollars seized from citizens unconvicted of any crime and the City rewards police officers with six-figure salaries. This is unconscionable. Somerville police officers don’t just brutalize Somerville residents, but also attack peaceful protestors in other cities through expensive interdepartmental mutual aid agreements. Somerville’s failings include reliance on lethally armed police to solve community problems and funding our police force at the expense of programs that strengthen our community and reduce crime.
[INSERT PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH POLICE VIOLENCE/RACISM IN SOMERVILLE]
Accordingly, it has come to my attention that the budget for 2021 will be presented to the City Council on June 19. The previous FY 2020 budget allocated $17,044,021 to Somerville PD, more than the budgets of Health and Human Services, Culture & Recreation, Medicare, and all the OSPCD Divisions combined. To fix these failings, I demand the City to reallocate millions of dollars from the Police Department FY 2021 budget, remove officers from Somerville schools, and disarm the police. Our needs must be addressed by the provision of care and not the threat of violence. We must reinvest into social programs and resources like education, public health, jobs, and safe housing. Most importantly, decisions around funding and reinvestment must be done in collaboration with Black, Brown, and Indigenous community members who are most impacted by the harms of police violence and disinvestment.
We must significantly defund the Somerville police department by cutting bloated salaries, expensive overtime, and militarized budgets to reinvest in our communities. It’s time to stop investing in criminalization and surveillance, and fund what Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities need to be safe and healthy: COVID19 relief, housing grants, healthcare, youth jobs and services, POC-owned businesses, community centers, trauma-informed first responders, POC-led organizations and projects.
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]