We are in a pivotal and historic moment.
As we near two full weeks of continual, ever-growing protests locally and around the world against racist police brutality and supporting the Movement for Black Lives, we are now on the cusp of lasting local policy change. Tomorrow, the City of Portland will have a hearing on the new 2021 budget. The following day, Multnomah County will be workshopping their 2021 budget, and then voting on it two weeks from today. Right now is a crucial moment to uplift the demands coming from Black leaders in our community to defund the police and reinvest in communities.
For every $3 we pay in taxes, $1 goes to the Portland Police Bureau. The result of this egregious funding is seen directly in violence in Black and Brown communities. This is despicable and wrong. Enough is enough. Can you join us in calling and writing to the City and County every single day until these demands are met? We need as many people reaching out as possible to influence the outcome of these budgets.
For many of us, particularly white folks who are much less impacted by police violence, we’ve only been exposed to ideas involving gradual police reforms like increasing body cams and police accountability, and so the bolder ideas of defunding and abolishing the police as an institution are fairly new to us.
But Black communities have been demanding governments defund or abolish the police for decades and decades. Listen to Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors explain the importance of this. What was almost unimaginable just a few weeks ago now seems almost inevitable, so long as we can keep the pressure escalating on Mayor Wheeler, City Council members, Multnomah County Commissioners, and other decision makers.
350PDX fully endorses the local demands from Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) here, and the broader national demands from the Movement for Black Lives here, and we recommend people donate, support, and uplift the powerful demands from these groups.
Yesterday, members of the Minneapolis City Council pledged to vote to disband the police. This is huge, and comes after years of Black-led, grassroots organizing in the city, pushing for this exact demand. When people and movements rise up, eventually politicians have no other choice but to listen. So join us and call and write to the Mayor and City Council and call and write to Multnomah County, and share these with your friends and family. Keep calling, keep writing, and keep showing up.
Dineen O’Rourke, Campaign Manager,
on behalf of the 350PDX Staff Collective
Top: Black Lives Matter D.C painted “Defund the Police” along 16th Street near the White House, which is visible by satellite. (Doug Mills, NYT)
Bottom: Protestors in Portland marching down 84 yesterday. (Beth Nakamura, The Oregonian)