Letter to Garcetti

On December 31, 2020, the People’s Budget LA Coalition sent the following letter to Mayor Garcetti:

Dear Mayor Garcetti:

We are writing to request a meeting with regard to the 2020-2021 budget and the $250
million pledged investment in Black and other marginalized communities.

Los Angeles and the nation are at a pivotal moment. The murders of #George Floyd, #BreonnaTaylor, #KevinCarr, #DanielHernandez, #FredWilliams, #DijonKizzee, and the hundreds killed in Los Angeles by law enforcement is too high a price for Black people to
pay to remind white America about institutional racism.

The world is suffering from the worst health pandemic in history, with Los Angeles at the epicenter, yet the response of the local government seems to prioritize upholding the status quo and protecting corporate interests. Despite the issuance of the Black LA Demands last April, no significant response from most City leaders was offered and Black people continue to struggle disproportionately to survive both COVID-19 and the devastating economic fallout. Amidst unprecedented uprisings, Mayor Garcetti committed a $250 million budget reallocation to invest in meaningful and innovative programs in Black and Brown communities. This has yet to occur.

Earlier this year, the People’s Budget LA coalition, led by Black Lives Matter-LA, collected
more than 25,000 surveys from respondents across the City of Los Angeles, and the
people overwhelmingly called for more funding for housing, workforce development,
mental health services, drug treatment, and resources that address the longstanding lack
of investment in Black and Brown communities. This is why millions of people in Los
Angeles and around the globe are calling to defund the police, and actually fund a
community system of care and support that does not further traumatize and victimize
Black people and other marginalized groups.

The surveys and calls to defund the police show a monumental shift in the budget
spending priorities of Angelenos. You proposed a significant increase to LAPD’s budget,
totaling nearly 54% of the City’s general fund. Your pledged reallocation of $150 million
(along with the additional $100 million from other sources) signaled a response to community demands. While $150 million is a relatively small percentage of the total police budget, these monies have the potential to positively and significantly impact lives and communities. It is highly concerning that a large percentage of the dollars earmarked towards community-based resources have been swallowed up by various entities such as furloughs and existing City programs.

The People’s Budget LA is calling for transparency and accountability. For too long the
budgeting decisions have been made opaque and confusing processes that left the
people’s input out and protected the status quo. We are calling for a participatory
budgeting process in the long term and an immediate allocation of the remaining $250
million to address the particular and urgent needs of Black and other marginalized
communities.

Your recent veto of City Council’s budget proposal offers an opportunity to reset and
make deliberate and intentional use of funds. As you stated, “This plan in too many
places elevates what should be routine over what could be revolutionary.” Revolutionary
priority investments must begin with meeting universal aid and crisis management,
reimagined public safety, and the built environment — the top three priorities of the
People’s Budget survey.

We know that when the people have a voice, they offer insightful ways to spend our city
budget. Here are some of the things we’ve heard in our People’s Budget town halls:

  • “I and many others are sick and tired of living in and being a product of a police state. We’re done paying for an institution that produces racism, violence, and poverty. We are done talking. It’s time to put money where the people are at.” Carlos Cázares
  • “Police show up and only hyper-escalate the situation, making matters worse. We need community interventionists that can pull up and deescalate the situation.” Joy Stalworth of Community Coalition
  • “Would the city ever recognize the value of the lived experience of interventionists or pay more lip service to programs that shut them out?” Kevin ‘Twin’ Orange of Advocates for Peace and Urban Unity (APUU)

You can view a summary of one of our townhalls at
https://peoplesbudgetla.com/reimaginepublicsafety/ and you can watch video testimony
at https://peoplesbudgetla.com/videos

As we call for transparency and accountability, we are calling for the investment of all
remaining funds in community-driven and community-led solutions. The reset that your
veto offers provides opportunity for City officials to work in partnership with communities
in meaningful ways. We look forward to meeting with you in January to forge an ethical
plan. Please respond to this letter with three possible dates and times for a virtual
meeting.

Sincerely,

Melina Abdullah, Ph.D.
Co-founder, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles
People’s Budget LA

CC: Los Angeles City Council

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