To Mayor Freiling, Vice Mayor Pons, City Manager Trivette, and Williamsburg City Council Members,
My name is [YOUR NAME], and I am a resident of Williamsburg, VA. Since the end of May, our nation has been gripped by resolute protesters calling for meaningful and lasting change with regard to police behavior, and an end to the structures of racism and anti-blackness that America was founded on.
In fact, Williamsburg plays a key role in the origins of this country—it has a rich history and prides itself as the city with the nation’s second oldest institution of higher education. However, these distinctions often omit the reality that over half of Williamsburg’s population was enslaved in 1775, William & Mary benefitted from the labor of enslaved people for 170 out of its 327-year history, and that nearly all of W&M’s students and professors joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As residents, I believe we have even more responsibility to acknowledge and correct the injustices of our city’s past as well as the ways they have manifested in the present: according to the 2019 WPD Year End Report, Black Americans comprised 47% of people arrested by Williamsburg Police even though they represent 16% of the Williamsburg population, which is worse than the national ratio.
It has come to my attention that the proposed 2021 budget is not finalized and is scheduled to be implemented in July. The proposed $5,420,342 to be allocated to the WPD from the 2021 General Fund (a 4.7% increase from 2020) is more than the proposed 2021 allocation for Human Services, Community Development, and Recreation combined.
I am urging you to meaningfully redirect funds from the WPD budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year 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, access to food, and community-led centers and projects.
I join in solidarity with the freedom fighters in Minneapolis, Louisville, Williamsburg, and across the United States. Can I count on you to join us and reallocate funds away from WPD to prioritize social programs going forward?
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]
WPD End of Year Report 2019 - https://www.williamsburgva.gov/home/showdocument?id=21801
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation - http://slaveryandremembrance.org/partners/partner/?id=P0000
Slavery at W&M - https://www.wm.edu/sites/enslavedmemorial/slavery-at-wm/index.php