How are you doing as we’re about to hit the six month mark of sheltering in place?  I’m sending you all health, love and solidarity as we buckle down for another few months of Covid-19. 

Between caring for my baby and zoom calls, I’ve been thinking about how Coronavirus and our Mama Earth have been asking us to slow down and take stock of what’s most important in our lives. We’re in a moment of reckoning between a recent past that has kept most of us oppressed in one way or another (or many ways), and a future that allows us to thrive in a new light. The question of “who keeps us safe” is paramount in these times and as we imagine coming out of this pandemic.

I’ll cut to the chase in this email, and ask you to take a moment right now to speak up for a budget amendment, led by Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas and President Rebecca Kaplan, to further divest $11 Million from the police department and invest in our communities.

Last week, we participated as part of the Defund the Police Coalition, in holding a townhall meeting with over 350 community members like you, about how to actualize City Council’s commitment of defunding Oakland Police Department by 50% (~$150 million) and REINVESTING that money into the health and well-being of our neighborhoods in the current and 2021-23 budget cycle. 

The Coalition released a survey to capture the community’s thoughts on priority areas of police operations that should be defunded, community programs and services that should be re-funded, and “Reimagining Public Safety” Task Force leadership. Thanks to everyone who participated in the community-led and informed Defund OPD survey, our coalition gathered almost 2,000 responses on what a funded Oakland can look like.  This vision of our future is beautiful and powerful!

Survey findings show that:
– Respondents agree that police operations should be defunded in several areas. including mental health (90%), substance abuse (86%), protests and demonstrations (84%), traffic (76%), overtime (74%) and intimate partner violence (57%).
– Participants believe these funds should be reinvested in housing (79%), mental health (73%), education (50%), restorative justice (46%), healthcare (46%), and youth programs (42%). A range of other programs, from food security to jobs to public transit enjoyed significant support as well.
– Participants strongly believe the Task Force to plan next year’s $150 million cut to OPD should consist of organizations that support defunding the police (91%), people from impacted communities (81%), and families directly impacted by police violence (74%) — while relatively few believe the Task Force should have representatives from the mayor’s office (22%) or OPD leadership (19%).

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This is our opportunity to continue to uplift the values of the Black New Deal and push City Council to respond to the immediate needs of our Oakland communities – invest in housing, healthcare, and social services that keep our communities healthy and secure, and divest from police and law enforcement that make our communities unsafe. Oakland can be the city to lead with progressive change, set the precedence for the rest of the nation and make historic headlines.
Today, Tuesday, July 21st at 1:30pm, City Council will be voting on various crucial items that will impact the wellbeing of our Black and Brown communities. We need all hands on deck to let City Council know we are in support of an amendment to the city budget to defund the police and provide additional emergency protections to tenants.

Help us urge city council to support the following items:
– Emergency Eviction Moratorium Extension (Item 2.2)⁣
– Tenant Protection Upgrades (Item 2.4)⁣
– Creation of the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force (Item 15)⁣
– Budget amendment to cut an additional $11.4M from OPD (Item 16)⁣

You can support by:
– Clicking on each agenda item above to leave an e-comment before 1:25pm on Tuesday, July 21st
– Calling and emailing your city councilmember before the city council meeting (see below for contact information)
– Join the city council meeting on Tuesday, July 21st at 1:30pm to leave a public comment using the following script: “My name is ___ and I live in district/neighborhood ___. I am calling to urge you to IMMEDIATELY extend Oakland’s eviction moratorium until the local state of emergency is lifted. Experts warn of a tsunami of evictions due to COVID-19. Like the pandemic and police violence, communities of color will bear the brunt of the crisis. Housing keeps us safe, not the police. Will you Defund OPD, extend the Eviction Moratorium, and pass the Tenant Protection Upgrades?”

To Join – Video conference – please click on this link: at the noticed meeting time.
– Phone – dial (669) 900-6833 and when prompted for Webinar ID press 842 9461 9854; If asked for a participant ID or code, press #.
 To Public Comment– Zoom video conference: click the “Raise Your Hand” button to request to speak when Public Comment is being taken on an eligible agenda item at the beginning of the meeting. You will be permitted to speak during your turn, allowed to comment, and after the allotted time, re-muted. Instructions on how to “Raise Your Hand” is available at: – Raise-Hand-In-Webinar
– Phone, please call on one of the above listed phone numbers.  You will be prompted to “Raise Your Hand” by pressing “*9” to speak when Public Comment is taken.  You will be permitted to speak during your turn, allowed to comment, and after the allotted time, re-muted. Please unmute yourself by pressing *6.

Councilmembers to contact before the meeting:

– District 1 – Dan Kalb – 510-238-7001 – [email protected] – @DanKalb
– District 2 – Nikki Fortunato Bas – 510-238-7002 – [email protected] – @nikki4oakland
– District 3 – Lynette Gibson McElhaney – 510-238-7003 – [email protected] – @LynetteGM
– District 4 – Sheng Thao – 510-238-7004 – [email protected] – @Sheng4Oakland
– District 5 – Noel Gallo – 510-238-7005 – [email protected] – @NoelGallo5
– District 6 – Loren Taylor – 510-238-7006 – [email protected] – @lorenmtaylor
– District 7 – Larry Reid – 510-238-7007 – [email protected] 
– At-large Rep – Rebecca Kaplan – 510-238-7007 – [email protected] – @Kaplan4Oakland

We hope to see you at the city council meeting helping us pave the way for a brighter and fully-funded Oakland in which we all have the same opportunity to thrive.

Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe. 

With deep love and solidarity,

Jessamyn Sabbag
Executive Director