Resolution 2020.12.05: Philly DSA Against Austerity: Community Policing Campaign

Author: Chris R.

Co-sponsors: Khalil M., Duncan G., Aurora M., Melissa D., Samuel D., Kelsey R., Kelsey D., Knar G., Emily B. Jon L., David M., Hannah H., Thomas M., Gustave L.

Whereas, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) has seen its budget increase by $120 million since 2016 (link), and the most recent budget allocates $726 million for the department, or around 15% of the city’s total budget; and

Whereas, the City of Philadelphia is seeing a $749 million budget shortfall for all other parts of the city’s budget (link), with examples as follows: 1) the Free Library of Philadelphia’s budget is $49 million or .01% of the budget; 2) Parks and Recreation’s budget is $66 million or .014% of the budget; 3) the Arts budget is $1.35 million or .00028% of the budget; 4) $25 million or .0052% of the budget will address healthcare needs, healthier food options, affordable housing, anti-poverty efforts, job training and other measures (link); and

Whereas, in terms of solved homicides (clearance rate), the clearance rate in 2020 is 47% (link). This number has declined from 2016, and represents more than a 15% drop from a decade ago; and

Whereas, in addition to the monetary commitment, the tactics the PPD uses does not get ahead of crime, but instead fosters community mistrust. Over 6 years, an investigation (link) found that Black/African working class Philadelphians make up 70% of “stop and frisk” incidents, while only being 40% of the population; and

Whereas, the tactics of armed police officers led to the murder of Walter Wallace Jr. (who was having a mental-health crisis) thus resulting in a mass uprising of working class Philadelphians protesting the murder; and

Whereas, the PPD’s Internal Affairs Department, meant to be a check on “bad apples” within the PPD, dismisses 9 out of 10 physical abuse complaints, and even where a physical abuse complaint is deemed credible, some complaints show no disciplinary action is taken (link); and

Whereas, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) spends $30 million annually on police in public schools while the SDP lacks funds for remediating lead, asbestos, and mold, leaving students and staff to learn and work in toxic environments, and Philadelphia Student Union’s call for Police Free Schools (link) and

Whereas, at its inception (founded in 1797 with Police Patrols beginning in 1830), the PPD have been defenders of White Supremacy as evident in their refusal to stop, investigate, or charge arsonists with the burning of the Pennsylvania Hall at 6th and Haines Streets (founded by Anti- Slavery groups) and the Shelter for Colored Orphans in May of 1838. The PPD has a long history of murdering innocent Black people, intimidating Black voters, removing or hiding identifying badge numbers in order to avoid accountability, etc. (link), and

Whereas, the PPD has directly attacked predominantly Black Neighborhoods such as on May 13, 1985, when Commissioner Sambor ordered the PPD to bomb 6221 Osage Avenue resulting in the deaths of six adults, five children, and the destruction of sixty-one homes (the Philadelphia City Council recently apologized for this attack (link)), and additionally, on May 31, 2020, the PPD tear-gassed, utilized less-than lethal munitions, and terrorized protestors and bystanders on or about 52nd and Market Street; and

Whereas, there are active “Defund the Police” Campaigns in Atlanta (link), Chicago (link), Detroit (link), East Bay (link), New Orleans (link), New York City (link), Silicon Valley (link), Metropolitan Washington D.C. (link), and the Twin Cities and Austin DSAs led a “Running a Defund the Police Campaign” (link); and

Therefore be it resolved, that Philly DSA be involved in the city’s police related budget discussions in 2021. This would include pressuring elected officials and allies, supporting mass actions that relate to the police budget, attending any pertinent city budget meetings, and working with existing organizations and coalitions that are fighting for a new policing framework by introducing a socialist element to the struggle. Philly DSA would demand that the city’s budget prioritize spending on public education, healthcare, and expanding public sector employment over policing; and

Be it further resolved, that Philly DSA pressure the municipal government to impose redistributive measures in order to realize these demands, including community control on funding, oversight, and law enforcement measures; and

Be it further resolved, that Philadelphia DSA Steering Committee mobilize its members, and that members commit to pressuring their own Representatives and participate in Philly DSA's effort; and

Be it finally resolved, that this campaign will work with the Canvassing Committee, the Racial Justice Commission, and other relevant Philly DSA bodies.

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