Amid Omicron Surge, Baltimore Police Got Even More Money

As the omicron variant surged into the new year, pushing statewide infection rates in Maryland past 30% and sending Baltimore City residents scrambling for COVID-19 tests and N95 masks, Baltimore City spent more money on the Baltimore Police Department.

On Dec. 23, Baltimore City’s Board Of Estimates approved $18 million for three new police helicopters. The three new helicopters will replace the four old helicopters purchased in 2011 for $9.5 million, Baltimore Brew reported.

It was the latest burst of additional funding since the Baltimore City Council voted to give the Baltimore Police a $28 million budget increase back in June 2021. In September, $6.5 million in revenue from red light cameras, supposedly allotted to make streets safer for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, was instead given to the police.

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Minneapolis Is About To Vote On Whether To Dismantle The Police

It was a cool Friday in Minneapolis, made cooler by the shadows of the skyscrapers towering over People’s Plaza. In the brick-lined courtyard between the Hennepin County Government Center and Minneapolis City Hall on September 17, the Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign and its allies held a rally whose purpose had come undone the day before.

Yes 4 Minneapolis is working to amend the Minneapolis City Charter by removing a mandate for a mayor-controlled police department with a certain number of officers per resident (0.0017, to be exact). In its place, the amendment establishes a Department of Public Safety under the joint control of the mayor and the 13-member Minneapolis City Council.

The radical restructuring would allow for future revisions.

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Defund The Police Groups, Atlanta Officials Are Still Miles Apart

City Council meetings were dominated by residents’ and civil rights activists’ calls for police accountability. A year later, these activists say their relationships with City Council remain strained. Those hoping to redistribute police investment said they’re unsatisfied with the government’s response. Some City Council members say they understand the calls for change, but that change takes time.

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Policing And Militarism Go Hand In Hand

Policing and militarism are a two-headed monster that protects and upholds the foundation upon which racial capitalism was built — exploitation of the lives of poor Black and Brown people.

Although much attention has been placed on recent expansions of police militarization, these threads have long been intertwined. For Black Americans, police have always acted as an occupying force within our communities. But during the 1960s, a decade of unprecedented Black radical resistance, the lines between police and military and national defense became even more blurred.

On December 8, 1969, the SWAT unit of the Los Angeles Police Department raided the Black Panther Party’s headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

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The Truth About Defunding Police

One year ago, thousands of people engaged in protest in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer. A persistent protest demand was for defunding police departments. The appeal of this rallying cry was obvious. Police in this country are a law unto themselves, killing and brutalizing at will, and rarely being called to account. Often these fatal encounters occur after minor offenses are committed or in the case of black people, when a call for assistance instead leads to death.

The premise of defunding police is well intentioned but faulty. In the past year we have seen sleight of hand in cities like New York where alleged funding cuts amounted to nothing more than budgetary trickery. Even in Minneapolis, where the movement began, defunding became nothing more than a name change.

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Battleground Baltimore: The Path To Police Accountability

Baltimore, MD – The battle to keep Black, brown, and other marginalized people safe from police violence is like a fire that has burned for as long as this country has existed. Hot spots flare up when this country’s hatred for Black and Brown people becomes more apparent, making the heat more intense and the pain more unbearable. It feels like we are in one of those moments where the fire is burning especially strong right now. 

This week, a jury found former officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd. In May of last year, Chauvin was caught on tape kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd begged for his life. We reached out to State Sen. Jill Carter and Del. Gabriel Acevero, two Maryland lawmakers who were instrumental in getting comprehensive policing legislation passed here in Maryland just a few weeks ago.

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Cities Sending Mental Health Experts, Not Cops, And It Works

As TFTP reported last week, Christian Joseph Hall, 19, was in the midst of a mental health crisis. He positioned himself on top of an overpass on I-80 leading to police closing off the road and engaging with him. Moments after police arrived, however, Hall would be dead. Video would prove he had his hands in the air and had surrendered when cops opened fire. Hall has now become one of over 1,400 people in a mental health crisis to lose their lives to police since 2015.

As TFTP has pointed out, even cops who voluntarily attend Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), have shown that they are quick to the trigger when dealing with the mentally ill.

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Policing And Punishment In Minneapolis’ ‘SafeZone’

The criminal “justice” apparatus faces increasing criticism for emphasizing punishment, violent abuse and incarceration of criminals rather than rehabilitation. However, few observers recognize the active role community “justice” programs and businesses play in this displacement. The public/private SafeZone initiative launched in downtown Minneapolis in 2004 serves as an instructive example of how programs lauded as reforms can still impose punitive “law and order” tactics onto targeted populations.

“A month ago I was driving down Nicollet going to pick up my girl, somebody shot at me, twice!” Demetri (whose real name is being protected) said in an electrified voice. 

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Austin Will Use Money Cut From Police Budget For Supportive Housing

Texas – The Austin City Council voted today to purchase one hotel and turn it into 60 units of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The vote to purchase a second hotel has been postponed to next week after a city council member asked for more time to gather feedback from her constituents.

Under the measure, the city will spend approximately $6.7 million from its Housing and Planning Department’s general obligation bonds to acquire one hotel and use some money from a recurring $6.5 million fund taken from the police department’s budget to provide services to the residents of the hotel.

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Defund The Police Is Not Abolition

The demand to defund the police has become a central narrative responding  to the graphic killing of Black people. Black organizers must now discuss if this strategy can move us closer to community control of public safety and unpoliced Black neighborhoods.

The defund demand has a number of important branches  but at its root it is a call to mobilize community energy towards winning votes at local budget hearings. This effort is not just about the vote but reflects a firm belief in U.S. democracy which at this exact moment may be the most mistaken political stance possible. During the Jan. 6th meeting at the U.S. Capitol we witnessed a show of strength  that could not have happened without deep police collaboration.

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New Toolkit To Defund The Police

Over the past eight months since George Floyd was choked to death by the Minneapolis Police Department, demands to defund the police emanating from Minneapolis spread like wildfire, echoing in the streets, in petitions to policymakers, and in the testimonies of thousands of people calling and writing in to virtual council chambers. Calls to defund police and invest in communities were not only a response to the ongoing murders of Black people like Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the hundreds of others killed by police every year. They were also a manifestation of outrage at the ongoing abandonment of Black, Indigenous, migrant, unhoused, disabled, and low-income communities to the…

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Capitol Police Show Why We Need To Defund The Police

On January 6, we witnessed the vast double standard for how Black Lives Matter protest is treated versus how white-supremacy-as-mob is treated. This wasn’t just a matter of police refraining from mass beating and arresting participants in the pro-Trump storming of the Capitol: Numerous police appear to have actively supported the mob, and to have defended it after the fact.

First, it’s important to clarify that what happened on January 6 was not a protest. Protest is about seeking redress for wrongdoing — this was backlash. Redress was the November 3 democratic process and recrimination of a criminal president. January 6 was payback and mob rule.

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What 2,392 Incarcerated People Think About #DefundThePolice

How do we fix policing in America? Can it be fixed? Donald Trump has made “law and order” a central message of his campaign, portraying anti–police brutality protesters as dangerous. Joe Biden has emphatically rejected protesters’ calls to defund the police and insists that less drastic reform can make a difference.

Whoever wins the election will help shape the future of criminal justice. But while the effects of the pandemic and police violence are magnified for people behind bars, the vast majority of them will not be able to press for solutions by voting.

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Minneapolis City Council’s Attempt To Defund Police Thwarted

Last month, the New York Times ran an article by Astead Herndon about politics and police in Minneapolis. By ignoring important context and details, Herndon painted a misleading picture of what happened and what’s likely to happen in the near future. He wrote that the Minneapolis City Council’s idealistic attempt to change public safety, spurred by young and progressive activists, were thwarted by public opposition and legislative processes. 

In truth, most of the City Council members, who ran and won by pledging to advance racial equity, tried to do the right—and popular—thing, but were stalled by an unelected, unrepresentative commission that overstepped its authority. 

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At Washington Post, Defunding Police Is A Step Too Radical

Since the May 25 murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, calls across the US  to defund police departments—shifting resources from law enforcement to social services—have grown louder. In June, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio shifted $1 billion from the NYPD—at least on paper (Gothamist, 6/29/20)—and Minneapolis city council members vowed to dismantle the police department and build a new model of public safety (though the city’s charter commission kept an initiative to eliminate a requirement to maintain a minimum number of police officers off the November ballot—Washington Post, 8/5/20).

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