Philadelphia Defunds Police By $33 Million, Restores Funds For African American Museum

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Philadelphia
Amid nationwide protests and calls to defund the police, the Philadelphia City Council cut $33 million in funding from the police department budget. Philadelphia police restrain a man during the Justice for George Floyd Philadelphia Protest, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country when died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Amid nationwide protests and calls to defund the police, the Philadelphia City Council cut $33 million in funding from the city’s Police Department — about 4.3 percent of the city’s proposed 2021 cops budget.

Fourteen out of 17 Philadelphia City Council members announced in a letter to Mayor Jim Kenney that they will not support a proposed $14 million increase to the police budget for fiscal year 2021.

Instead, the city council restored some of the money that Kenney wanted to cut from affordable housing, arts and culture, and the city’s African American Museum, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The city’s proposed 2021 budget would allocate $760 million, or 15 percent of the city’s total budget to the police department, ABC6 reported on June 9. The next largest department is the fire department, with half the number of employees. It would receive $321 million.

With activists pushing for the city council to defund the police, the council told the mayor, “It is counterproductive to increase spending on the Police Department while cutting spending on public health, housing, social services, violence prevention, youth programs, libraries, parks, recreation centers and the arts.”

Kenney agreed last week to eliminate a proposed $19 million increase and the council on Wednesday cut another $14 million from the police budget “simply by moving crossing guards and public safety enforcement officers out of the department. Those employees will now report directly to the managing director’s office,” the Inquirer reported. A final vote is expected next week.

“The covid-19 pandemic and unrest in our city and country these last few weeks have magnified the disparities that were glossed over by a booming economy and years of cutting resources from our country’s social safety net,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said in a statement. “The lack of access to affordable housing, health care, living wage jobs and healthy foods has been exposed by these crises – along with many problems.”

The Police Department budget includes money for reforms, according to council’s news release. This includes body cameras, implicit bias training, and an equity manager for the department. The city will also add a deputy inspector general for police-related investigations.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 72: Jamarlin Martin   Part 2. J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, may not be around but his energy is present in new Black politics.FBI agents and informants were used to weaken Marcus Garvey, the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers — in many cases for money and career advancement. How could this energy metastasize into the “New Blacks” politics in 2020? Jamarlin goes solo to discuss who is doing the trading and what is being traded to weaken the aggregate Black political position.

Shifting money from the police to community resources such as parks and recreation is proven to help people and reduce crime, said Elizabeth Gardiner, a union member. The Campaign for a Just Philly Budget hosted a People’s Budget Hearing on Monday evening on Facebook, ABC7 reported.

“It does not mean that the police need to disappear tomorrow,” Gardiner said. “It means that our resources that our city allocates are being grossly mismanaged and the police are getting much more than is feasible.”

Additional investments for Philadelphia include the following:

  • $25 million to address healthcare needs, affordable housing, anti-poverty efforts and others to “address the disparities laid bare by covid-19 and the unrest in Philadelphia following George Floyd’s murder.”
  • $20 million more for the Housing Trust Fund for quality, affordable housing.
  • $1.35 million in funding that was going to be cut due to covid-19 impact has been restored for the Cultural Fund and African-American Museum.
  • $825,000 in funding for criminal justice reform re-entry services.

Read more: 10 Policy And Other Changes From The Multi-Factor Rebellion Sparked By George Floyd’s Murder By Police