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[Defunding the Police]
Grassroots Groups: "We come together to call for divestment from policing and investment in resources that directly impact the health and safety of Black communities: healthcare, housing..."
Photo: YouTube

Calls for defunding America's militarized police are growing in wake of George Floyd's murder.

From NYC, to DC, to LA, street vendors stand in unconditional solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, and together call to Defund the Police nationwide.

George Floyd’s horrific murder is part of the institutional racism and inequality that has been marginalizing and killing our Black neighbors in communities across our country throughout American history, that has caused the deaths of Breonna Taylor, of David McAtee, of Eric Garner, where one name is far too many. We condemn the violence and brutality police are using against those fighting for the right to exist.

The Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign, Street Vendor Project, and Many Languages One Voice have spent the last few days checking in with our members to educate and learn from one another on how police enforcement is an inherently racist institution, trusting our lived experiences as street vendors of the harassment we have faced from the police. We uplift the voices of Black communities over the misinformation currently being spread through mainstream and ethnic media outlets that focus on 'looting,' rather than the fact that a man named George Floyd was killed by police, or the police violence that is being taken against peaceful protestors. Within our Asian and Latinx vending communities, we are continuing to confront and address the deeply rooted anti-Blackness that exists, connecting the injustices inflicted by ICE on immigrant communities to those inflicted by police departments on Black communities.

In coming together as a National Coalition for Street Vendor Justice, we learned that in each of our cities the budgets of the police department are either receiving insignificant cuts or actually increasing their budgets:

In Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed a $578 million police budget, an outrageous $18.5 million increase from last year. At the same time, the proposed budget cuts violence prevention programs like the Office of Neighborhood and Safety Engagement.

In Los Angeles, the overall police budget is $3.15 billion, $1.8 billion coming from the discretionary funds of the City. This accounts for 54% of the funding available for flexible spending by Angelenos, and is a 7.1% increase from the year prior — despite major cuts to nearly all other City employees, including the civilian staff of the LAPD.

In New York City, the NYPD’s nearly $6 billion budget is poised to decrease by just 0.39 percent in the coming fiscal year. During the same period, funding for the Department of Education is poised to drop by $827 million — a 3 percent cut of its overall budget.

We question where are the resources to support the Black and Brown communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19? How is it that our governments take swift action to suppress those fighting for basic human rights, but have no money, action, or interest in redirecting these resources in a response to a national health pandemic?

Vendedores Unidos agrees that Black Lives Matter and calls on DC to Divest from the Metropolitan Police Department. Whether local police or ICE, we demand that law enforcement respect our right to live and thrive in our cities and that any police officer who violates those rights be swiftly brought to justice.

The LA Street Vendor Campaign stands with the Movement For Black Lives, Black Lives Matter, and the People’s Budget Los Angeles. We are in the midst of a crisis within a crisis. The global pandemic has shown how our current systems do not work, and certainly not for the most vulnerable. Then, with the killing of George Floyd on public display, communities across the country are saying “enough” — and taking to the streets to show that Black Lives Matter despite the militaristic response from our local governments.

The Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center joins demands put forward by Communities United for Police Reform, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Decrim NY, and Black Youth Project for the NYPD to be defunded, and resources be redirected to supporting Black communities who have been, and continue to be, disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and targeted by police violence. Words from elected officials calling Justice for George Floyd are meaningless unless there is real action to Defund the Police, and invest in communities.

We come together to call for divestment from policing and investment in resources that directly impact the health and safety of Black communities: healthcare, housing, and support for undocumented people who have been excluded from relief. In alliance with organizations in each of our cities, we call on our street vending communities and allies to take the following actions:

  • Los Angeles: On Monday, June 8th, the Budget and Finance Committee will begin a series of discussions on the City’s Budget. Call your elected officials and tell them you want to #DefundThePolice and support the People’s Budget. You can find all of the information about your City elected officials here. Tune in, provide comment, and let your elected official know how you feel about what the City should be using it’s money for.
  • Washington, DC: Call Mayor Boswer and your city councilmember and demand that they #DivestfromMPD. Go here for more information about the DC Fair Budget Coalition and help make sure that DC invests in its people, not its police.
  • New York City: Call your Council Members and tell them that you demand they #DefundtheNYPD in the proposed NYC 2021 budget, and that resources be redirected to city agencies that can help communities hit hardest by COVID-19.

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