The City of Philadelphia's response to the murders of black people by police across the country and excessive violence in the streets has made me question considerably the wisdom and leadership that the people of Philadelphia entrusted to you. While there's no doubt in my mind, the rioting and looting is a dangerous precedent; you have empowered the police with such gross and distorted power that I am no longer sure whose best interest in which the city operates.
Your new budget proposal undermines the very structures that reduce violence, promote cohesiveness and could improve the social fabric if the city. We need empathy, compassion and civility. I question the investment in the Police Department to such a thing.
To that effect, I implore you to reconsider the plot you've designed. We need a city bonded by humanity and not bound by police force. Will you be brave enough to change your course?
I've sent the following email to the city council members and other concerned citizens.
Dear Leaders, Administration and Staff of City Hall:
As a citizen, non-profit administrator, working musician, and parent, Mayor Kenney's proposed budget frightens me. Rather than foster public health and inclusive social policy, the budget focuses on security, surveillance and veiled violence in the form of the Police Department's proposed 14 million dollar increase.
Libraries, parks and recreation centers, arts & culture institutions and schools are our sanctuaries. They provide space and place to thrive. These are the pipelines in which dreams flourish and are fostered to points of actualization. Reducing (and eliminating) these budgets along with reducing homeless services and public health support will slowly suffocate the city. You will ostensibly cut off life sustaining services to our city. As we struggle now with reality, these institutions and programs are the antidote to improve Philadelphia.
While we can agree that the city needs to be secure and safe, I don't believe investing solely in the Police Department will solve anything. Public health and good social policy act as preventive actions for public safety and proactive choices that benefit the city's residents holistically.
At this point in time, COVID, the protests and riots have traumatized our city; as well as years of systemic racism against the Black/POC community members and economic marginalization for lower earning citizens. Healing and moving forward through this trauma will not happen by way of the Police. It will happen when we invest in the wellbeing of the city's citizens, the neighborhoods in which they live and the services provided by them.
Please vote no on the proposed budget and say yes to the wellbeing of our city.