SURVEY CONDUCTED BY #DEFUNDTHEPOLICE COALITION FINDS STRONG SUPPORT FOR COUNCILMEMBER BAS’S PROPOSAL TO REALLOCATE ANOTHER $11.4M FROM OPD’S BUDGET THIS YEAR AND FORM A TASK FORCE OF IMPACTED COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO PLAN NEXT YEAR’S $150 MILLION CUT TO THE DEPARTMENT
Oakland, Calif., — Oakland residents overwhelmingly support steep cuts to the Oakland Police Department’s budget and reinvestments in housing, mental health support and other social services, according to to a new survey conducted last week by the Anti Police-Terror Project and the #DefundthePolice Coalition.
The survey found strong support for two proposals which the Council will consider on Tuesday. One proposal, by Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas and Rebecca Kaplan, will reallocate OPD’s budget by an additional $11.4 million this year. The second, by CM Bas and CM Loren Taylor, will form a Task Force led by the most impacted community members to plan how to cut OPD’s budget by $150 million next year.
These proposals were scheduled for consideration on Tuesday’s agenda after Council received overwhelming backlash from the community. They had ignored the incredible outpouring of support for demands to Defund OPD and used undemocratic maneuvers to pass a budget on June 23rd, which gave mostly lip service to these demands.
“Oakland has the opportunity to set an example for the nation with a historic decision to stop law enforcement overspending and invest in services that truly make us safe.” said James Burch, Policy Director for the Anti Police-Terror Project.
The survey was completed by nearly 2,000 residents from all districts of Oakland and asked what areas or functions they thought should be cut from OPD’s budget, and where those monies should be reinvested instead. Key findings include:
- 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%).
- Most respondents feel that Task Force members should be nominated by impacted organizations (78%) or selected by a panel of impacted organizations (69%) — while few respondents thought the city council (13%) or mayor (3%) should choose.
Jessamyn Sabbag, Executive Director of Oakland Rising Action, commented: “Our survey found that very few even want the mayor, mayor-appointees or OPD sitting on the Task Force — while nearly everyone likes the idea of community organizations in impacted areas, those working with impacted people, and those directly impacted to run this Task Force.”
The survey also asked open-ended questions about respondents’ experiences with police, finding widespread fear and distrust. A significant number of Black and POC participants shared their experiences of police violence and racial profiling. Many reported humiliating or harmful police responses to domestic violence, mental health, and property crimes, or reported that police interaction made them feel unsafe in such situations.
“Oakland residents are clear on what keeps us safe: housing as a human right, mental health and trauma support, family-sustaining jobs and worker protections, clean streets and fresh air, and restorative justice to resolve conflict through compassion and healing, not a badge and a gun. In other words, WE keep US safe.” Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project added.
The #DefundthePolice Coalition is led by Anti Police-Terror Project, Community Ready Corps, Black Organizing Project, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, Oakland Rising, ACCE, Bay Rising, Asians4BlackLives, and dozens of other community organizations in Oakland. The survey of 1,726 participants was launched during the Defund OPD Townhall held on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 from 6-8 p.m. and concluded on Friday, July 19, 2020.