The City of Houston Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee meets next on Thursday, June 25 at 10:00am. Click below to sign up to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting. Deadline to sign up is Wednesday, June 24 at 5:00pm.
Hi, my name is [your name]. I’m a resident of District #. I’m calling because I’m asking members of the Public Safety committee to commit to defund the police department by 25% per year until the police department is obsolete. The Police Department does not improve the safety of our Black, brown, and working-class communities. Black Lives Matter, and I’m adding my voices to the many Black activists and residents who are asking you to abolish policing in Houston.
The time has passed for reforms. Mayor Turner has failed to take action on reforms that he previously supported, including recommendations from his own staff to decrease the police budget by 75%. He has spent years ignoring the community’s demands while his officers beat and arrest protesters. Art Acevedo has appeared in front of Congress to belittle residents’ demands to #DefundHPD, and he has still not released footage of the HPD officers who killed six civilians in the last two months. City Councilmembers have rolled their eyes at our legitimate requests, while City Councils in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Milwaukee, and across the country are actively responding to this current crisis by reexamining and cutting police budgets.
Dismantling the police must coincide with deep, long-term community investment for housing, health, and jobs. For every dollar given to the police under the Mayor’s budget, 10 cents go to the Health department, 5 cents go to Libraries, and 1 cent is given to Planning and Neighborhoods combined. This is unacceptable, especially in the middle of a pandemic that afflicts Houston’s most vulnerable residents. The Council must take a structural approach to undoing the decades of racism and violent policing ravaging Houston’s Black neighborhoods. But there are steps this committee could take before fully dismantling the police that would be meaningful. Publish unredacted budgets from Mayor Turner’s full term for public analysis, release the videos from the recent HPD killings, require that all elected officials return campaign donations from police unions, and commit to a long-term plan to dismantle the police.
Thank you for your time.