Tell City Council to Vote NO on the Budget Amendment and Work with the City Manager and Office of Equity and Inclusion to Craft a Budget that reflects Divest/Invest Priorities and implements an APD hiring freeze.
City Council will vote on a Budget Amendment Proposal this Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020. The proposal was released on September 17th, 2020, and it calls for only a 2.6% divestment from the Asheville Police Department (APD) Budget; and makes very little investment of any funds into the Black community, nor does it reallocate any funds to the Office of Equity & Inclusion.
City Council is likely to claim that it must pass this budget on Tuesday or risk a city shutdown. This isn’t true. They have until September 30th to approve a budget for the rest of the fiscal year.
Will you reach out to City Council and tell them to vote NO on this budget, and to work with the City Manager and the Office of Equity & Inclusion to devise a plan that truly reflects divest/invest priorities?
Council needs to know that this budget, with only 2.6% divestment from APD, is not acceptable to the people of Asheville. They need to know that we expect them to use the rest of the month to work with the Office of Equity & Inclusion to improve the budget, starting with an immediate APD hiring freeze. It’s time for them to make a meaningful move toward a 50% divestment from the APD, reinvested in the Black community.
You can contact City Council one or more of the following ways:
- Call and email the City Council Members directly before the meeting on Tuesday:
- Email all of City Council at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
- Call and email Mayor Esther Mannheimer – 828-259-5604 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call and email Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler – 828-333-1767 email@example.com
- Call and email Councilman Brian Haynes – 828-619-1776 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call and email Councilwoman Julie Mayfield – 828-271-4544 email@example.com
- Call and email Councilwoman Sheneika Smith – 704-401-9104 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call and email Councilman Keith Young – 828-407-1181 email@example.com
- Make a public comment at Tuesday’s City Council Meeting (Unfinished Business Item B – Budget Amendment):
- To submit a pre-recorded voicemail comment for this agenda item call 855-925-2801, Enter Code 8330, and record your message.
- To email a comment, send it to AshevilleCityCouncilSept222020@PublicInput.com
Please fill out the report back form so we know what you did or are planning to do. There are some talking points and further information below.
Some things you might say and ideas to get you started:
- “I am an Asheville resident and I do not support the proposed budget amendment.”
- “I am urging you to vote ‘No’ on the Budget Amendment because I feel a 2.6% divestment from the police is insufficient, and does not communicate commitment to the safety of our Black community.”
- “Please do not approve this Budget Amendment because it doesn’t change nearly enough about APD’s resources or role in our City, and therefore does not ensure greater safety or well-being for Black Asheville residents.”
- “You’ve claimed to be concerned about and committed to the well-being of Black residents of Asheville, but if you vote for this Budget Amendment you will demonstrate otherwise. Black community members do not benefit enough from the money ‘saved’ by the 2.6% divestment from APD.”
- “You as City Council members have a responsibility to be legitimately responsive to community needs. You claim to be committed to undoing the systemic racism of our Police Department—more substantial divestment would be the best way to show Asheville that you mean what you say.”
- “Please vote ‘No’ on this budget amendment and instead work with the City Manager and Office of Equity & Inclusion to craft a new budget that more substantially divests from APD (and invests more in the Black community, as well as alternatives to policing). An APD hiring freeze would be a good place to start. This would send a message that you are willing to do the work to make justice a reality for our Black community.”
- “It may mean additional work for you under substantial time constraints, but this is necessary work to be on the right side of history. It is necessary work for the survival and humanity of our community members right now. Please vote ‘No’ on the Proposed Budget Amendment, and craft a new one that demonstrates your care and commitment to the dignity and safety of our Black neighbors.”
- “We expect from you the leadership to make difficult decisions and substantially reimagine the best possible city for all our residents. You have the power to do so. Please vote ‘No’ on the Proposed Budget Amendment and provide us with that needed leadership.”
Important Background and Context
Since June, Black AVL Demands, the RJC, and countless others have voiced clearly what we expect from our City’s leadership: a plan to divest funds from the Asheville Police Department—with the ultimate goal of a 50% budget reduction—to invest in the Black community. After claiming that they understood how the APD “does more harm than good”* to Black people in Asheville, the City proposed nothing to alter this reality.
The Budget Amendment Proposal Details:
Instead, City Manager Debra Campbell has proposed a City Budget that divests only 2.6% from the Asheville Police Department. The majority of the suggested cuts would be achieved by reassigning or eliminating four animal control positions, two park warden positions, six telecommunicator positions, and one assistant to the chief position. It also claims savings from the salaries of resigned sworn officer positions**. The money “saved” by the reassignment and elimination of these positions would be redirected to Development Services, Communications & Public Engagement (CAPE), Parks & Recreation, and IT for beginning efforts at alternatives for public safety and meeting community needs.
None of the proposed divestment is reallocated to the Black community in Asheville, and no funds are reallocated to the Office of Equity & Inclusion. If the City is serious about addressing systemic racism in our police department and the rest of our government, the Office of Equity & Inclusion must play a central role in the drafting process.
* Asheville police defunding: Public has weighed in, what’s next? Campbell won’t suggest 50% Joel Burgess, Asheville Citizen Times, September 15, 2020