In a moment when Black people in the District are risking their lives in the hopes of saving the lives of their loved ones, the D.C. Council has failed to join us in taking bold steps to transform our communities. If the council is sincere in its acknowledgment of the scourge of policing, then it must take immediate action. Our communities deserve justice—and any collusion between elected officials and police to uphold a violent, punitive system must end.

In that vein, we honor the lives of Raphael Briscoe, Timothy Lionel Williams, Gerald Javon Hall, Terrence Sterling, Marquees Alston, Jeffrey Price, D’Quan Young, and all the other people whose lives have been tragically lost at the hands of the Metropolitan Police Department. For decades, police departments have tried to use reform efforts to partially make amends with communities who continue to be impacted by deadly violence, harassment, and continual abuse from law enforcement. We will not be hushed into falling for these performative actions.

We are the people, and we are calling for the full defunding of police. Policing does not keep our communities safe—we keep our communities safe. The D.C. Council has not done enough to meet the needs of the community and should divert resources used for policing to community-led programs. The council’s budget should reflect the high level of care that Black communities need now.

We demand the following:

Divest from Policing

  • Reject the proposed $18.5 million increase to the police budget for the fiscal year 2021, including the $2.5 million proposed to add additional police in schools and deny any future MPD budget expansion proposals.
  • Cut police salaries and FTEs (full-time employees) across the board.
  • Deny any funding for public relations.
  • Deny $5 million proposed for new jail construction.
  • Answer the youth-led movement to remove police from DC public and charter schools by ending all police and security officers’ contracts before the beginning of the 2020–2021 school year.
  • Continue decreasing the MPD budget every year and investing more in programs that keep our communities alive and well.

Invest in Community

  • Invest funds diverted from MPD to community resources, including a city-wide expansion of community violence interrupters within schools and the broader community that is independent of law enforcement.
  • Fund One-to-One peer support, universal high-speed Internet access, and technology support for Black and brown high-school students. The city must invest in student success during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, as virtual learning becomes a part of our new reality.
  • Invest $10.4 million in school-based mental-health and violence-interruption programs.
  • End all cooperation with ICE, and fully implement and follow the Sanctuary Values Act. Cops don’t keep us safe, but making sure that undocumented D.C. residents are able to live without fear of being ripped from their homes, their communities, and their families is how the city shows it is safe.
  • Mortgage lenders and all landlords, including the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA), cancel rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the COVID-19  pandemic, plus one month, and will freeze all rents for two years.
  • Department of Corrections immediately releases all people incarcerated in the D.C. Jail, and ensure they have access to PPE and products to ensure a sanitary environment at no cost to them.
  • D.C. government provides an expansion of unemployment insurance and include sex workers, undocumented folks, gig workers, and all those in need.
  • D.C. government funds housing specifically for Black and brown trans and queer young people so they have safe, stable, supportive living situations.
  • D.C. government ensures all venues that support Black culture (music, art, food, care) will be prioritized and supported if in danger of closing. This means that government will be intentional about distributing funds to organizations, prioritizing those that are Black-owned, Black-led, and that serve Black people.

Divesting from the police and investing in our community is critical to the well-being of all our neighbors. Black trans and cis women, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming lives matter, and we must create the conditions that support everyone to thrive. Abolition of police and prisons is not just about defunding and dismantling oppressive systems, but also about building up relationships and resources that honor our ability to repair harm and self-govern our communities. The D.C. Council must take immediate steps to adopt these demands in the current legislative cycle. The need to create a safer, healthier city is urgent, and the council must act now.