2021 People’s Budget calls for divestment from police and investment in marginalized communities
June 22, 2021
By Emma DiMaggio, Signal Tribune
A coalition of Long Beach residents and organizations presented their annual People’s Budget today, calling for divestment from police and investment into marginalized communities.
“The city is barely beginning the process to reverse the entrenched historic pattern of disinvesting from our communities that have suffered from inequity because of race and class,” said Dawn Modkins, a member of the multi-racial and multi-faith organizing group LA Voice. “Today, we are at a critical juncture in our city’s history and our nation’s history.”
The 2021 People’s Budget parallels many of the same asks from last year’s proposal: a reinvestment in youth and seniors, comprehensive language access, universal legal representation for immigrants and a right-to-counsel program for renters.
“Budgets are moral documents and they must represent the priorities of our community,” said Jamilet Ochoa, a community organizer with the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition (LBRIC).
Many of the coalition’s demands come with renewed vigor in the face of a global health crisis that has exacerbated inequities across racial and socioeconomic lines.
The budget has both multiracial and multigenerational support. Organizations like the Long Beach Gray Panthers, the Housing Justice Coalition, Black Lives Matter Long Beach and LBRIC threw their support behind the proposal during a press conference.
Supporters of the budget stood beside speakers at Long Beach City Hall holding signs donning phrases like “Less Oppression More Resources,” “Care Not Cops” and “Together We Do Great Things.”
During the press conference, organizers demanded a “deep” investment in community land trusts—a form of housing that centers on community ownership—and a reallocation of cannabis tax revenue back into communities that have long suffered from the prior criminalization of cannabis.
“We are demanding the righting of wrongs,” said Audrena Redmond, founder of the Long Beach chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Although funds like Measure US and Measure M have been allocated towards the coalition’s past goals, Redmond demanded the community-centered allocation of “growth dollars” like cannabis tax revenue, which brought in over $10 million last year.
“Whether it is police over criminalizing and committing direct violence against Black and brown bodies, or greedy developers gentrifying our neighborhood, our families, displacing them in our communities, it’s enough,” Modkins said.
The Long Beach City Council will deliberate on the fiscal year 2022 budget later this year.
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