Thank you Salt Lake City!
Thank you for calling, e-mailing and participating in the public hearing on the city council budget. It was inspiring to hear a resounding demand to #DefundSLCPD with folks sharing their personal stories and ideas to transform our beloved city. We came together with a unified message of anti-racism, and our voices were amplified: over 200 comments were recorded over the course of a six hour meeting! Mayor Mendenhall claims it may have been the longest City Council work session in Utah history.
However, our demands have not been met. This morning on ‘Trib Talk,’ Mayor Mendenhall claimed the current budget is “the flattest police budget since I’ve been in city hall.” She also cited the increases as obligations to the police union and other contracts. This does not account for why the SLCPD budget makes up 26% of our cities total funding. This does not account for the militarization and expansion of Salt Lake City police that continues to increase year after year. It does not account for the lack of justice for the victims of rampant police violence and misconduct throughout Salt Lake, particularly in the murder of Bernardo Palacios Carbajal just this past week.
The City Council’s emailed meeting summary included comments about funding the SLCPD for more body cameras and training, something that we did not have listed on our demands anywhere, and was only mentioned in a minority of opinions on Tuesday. To be clear: we want to DIVEST the amount of funding for the police, and INVEST it into our communities where resources are desperately lagging. Our original call to defund by $30 million dollars echoes the calls led by organizations on the ground in Minneapolis and around the country to support a transition away from giving the police more power by giving the people the resources they need. We asked for a high percentage cut because our society needs a drastic reduction in policing. We apologize for confusion over 23 new police hires, an addition made in the 2019 police budget. We do not want to breed misinformation or taint your intelligent, thoughtful, and powerful opinions made. That being said, we hope that the Mayor’s Office meets our demand to continue the hiring freeze in the next fiscal year.
As we continue to advocate for abolition and political transformation as our country reels from yet another police officer murder a Black person, we must reiterate that the history of policing is intertwined with racial violence. In the United States, patrols were originally organized to protect white supremacy, most notably to catch and return Black human beings to white slaveowners. Here in Utah, early patrols were organized by the Mormon pioneers to protect land stolen from the Ute, Shoshone, and Goshute people. Racialized policing meant to protect white prosperity continued as the force became professionalized and militarized.
Right now in Utah, despite the Black population making up less than 2% of the state, Black people make up 10% of those killed by police. This is the most disproportionate killing by police in the United States.
Now is the time to ask who police protect and serve? Who benefits from increased police funding? More importantly, who is hurt by increased police funding? Will we stand in solidarity and demand our city prioritize the safety and humanity of Black and Brown folks?
Potential adoption of the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9. Let’s do all we can to create a city budget that benefits everyone, and begin to #defundSLCPD.
Read over the 2020-2021 proposed budget
Stay engaged on why we are calling for defunding and not reform by following #defundpolice
Call and email the mayor’s office on Monday, June 8th to continue the demand:
Mayor Mendenhall still refuses to listen to her many constituents who rose up Tuesday night. Demand that the city decrease the SLCPD budget and maintain a hiring freeze on the police throughout the 2020-2021 fiscal year!
Resources where you can find out more about the abolition of policing
Alex Vitale’s book, The End of Policing, is a great place to start! The e-book is free to download right now on Verso Books
He also wrote a great article about how we over rely on policing! Catch it on NPR
Critical Resistance’s chart on reformist reforms vs abolitionist steps of policing
Some examples of how body cameras fail to provide community safety or police accountability
The Policing Timeline from Critical Resistance is rich in information and provides a lot more historical context