Organizers behind the “Defund The Police” movement want Broward County Commissioners and Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners to “divest” more than ten million dollars from local police budgets. On Monday, Broward Dream Defenders, one of the organizers of a recent Fort Lauderdale protest inspired by the murder of George Floyd, urged its supporters to “#Defund The Police Broward County!” In a Facebook post, the group told supporters to contact Broward County Commissioners ahead of Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
Broward Dream Defenders wrote, “We are in a moment where cities across the states are taking action and demanding the defunding of police and to reinvest into our communities. We have the chance here in Broward to do the same. Starting today call and tweet your commissioners and signup for public comments….To make the message clear DEFUND FROM POLICE AND FUND THE NEEDS OF OUR COMMUNITIES.”
Supporters were provided with access to a document containing the names and contact info for local elected officials as well as a script with talking points.
The document states the item of interest at Tuesday’s Broward County Commission meeting is a $500,000 grant to the Broward Sheriff’s Office for “racial equity” programs. The programs were announced two weeks ago by Mayor Dale Holness and his ally, the embattled Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony. The document tells supporters to say, “We demand they redirect those funds to people that may be under the threat of eviction when the current moratorium expires.” The group wants Commissioners to give a separate $500,000 to BSO racial equity programs.
Regarding Tuesday’s Fort Lauderdale City Commission meeting, Broward Dream Defenders wants Mayor Dean Trantalis, Commissioner Steven Glassman, Commissioner Ben Sorensen, Commissioner Robert McKinzie and Commissioner Heather Moraitis to “divest 10 million dollars from the police.”
On Wednesday, supporters demand City of Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper and Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana “permanently disband” the City SWAT team and “reinvest their funds to Black-led community initiatives.” They are also demanding the City of Hallandale reopen the case involving Howard Bowe.
Here’s the phone script:
Hello I am calling because I support Defunding the Police. Police violence is a local and national public health crisis and epidemic. Our demands are:
For this commission to vote at your next meeting to never increase the police budget again.
For this commission to vote at your next meeting to divest money from the police budget and instead invest it in community-led initiatives
For the commission to educate themselves on community-led initiatives like CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon.
We want you to meet these demands at your next commission meeting. Thank you!
Here are talking points to be shared at meetings:
Talking Points for Public Comment:
San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, said in the coming month’s police will no longer respond to non-criminal calls. Instead, unarmed professionals will be dispatched citing recent protests for the shifts. We want that here in our local communities as well.
We are in the midst of a pandemic and our communities still need COVID-19 relief. This defunding needs to be reallocated to address emergency needs for our communities.
There is a program called CAHOOTS – Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets in Eugene, Oregon that we want to be implemented locally. Such programs take police out of the equation when someone is going through a mental health crisis, struggling with substance abuse or homelessness. CAHOOTS is a free, 24/7 community service — funded by the city at a cost of around $2 million. Although locally we would need around $10 million dollars to run similar programs in each city in Broward County to account for our populations and the impacts of COVID-19. Under a CAHOOTS model, instead of police, a medic and a mental health worker are dispatched for calls such as welfare checks or potential overdoses. In 2017, such teams answered 17% of the Eugene Police Department’s overall call volume, saving the city on average 8.5 million each year from 2014-2017.
Minneapolis City Council obtained a “veto-proof majority” to dismantle it’s city’s police department and rebuild a new system of public safety. And New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, pledged to cut the budget of the largest police department in the US, the NYPDM, and reallocate the funds to social services. We know we can do the same thing here in Broward.
Policing in the South emerged from slave patrols in the 1700s and 1800s that caught and returned runaway slaves. In the North, the first municipal police departments in the mid-1800s helped squash riots against the rich.
When we say Defund the Police we are not abandoning our communities to violence we want to redirect and reallocate those funds to mental health support, health care, housing, making public transportation free, and jobs that pay a livable wage. This is what truly keeps a community safe.
What about robberies and murder?
A significant portion of what we call crime is poverty-related. We need to decriminalize poverty. We want safe communities, of course, however, police have not brought us that safety. There are so many solutions on how to intervene in violence (i.e. through curriculum and community education) however these solutions are usually underfunded and unable to get off the ground.
Will progressive officials like Mayor Dean Trantalis say no to demands to divest $10 million dollars from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department? Stay tuned.