By Oakland Defund the Police Coalition
Oakland, CA: The people of Oakland moved one step closer to realizing the goal of refunding resources to the community. After weeks of sustained protest and direct action, City Council unanimously approved a resolution last night to create an official task force to determine how to cut the Oakland Police Department’s budget by 50% next year.
The 19-person “Reimagining Public Safety Task Force” will have four advisory boards and a five-month timeline to develop draft recommendations. It will meet once or twice per month to make final recommendations to the City Council to defund OPD by 50% by March 31, 2021.
The transition team was an idea of the Defund the Police coalition, lifted up by CM Nikki Bas and later joined by CM Loren Taylor after intense community pressure. Oakland residents have overwhelmingly demanded that affected community members and survivors of police violence lead the new task force.
“While there is still much work to be done, this is a win for the People of Oakland. We forced the so-called Equity Caucus to commit to defunding OPD by 50% and investing that money in areas that truly keep us safe like housing, mental health, healthcare, and youth programs.” Cat Brooks, Anti Police-Terror Project
“This transition team only exists because of pressure from the People. Tireless years of organizing made this happen — and we will not relent until we actually cut OPD funding by 50%.” – liz suk, Political Director, Oakland Rising
In recent weeks, thousands of Oakland residents have joined what has become an international call to invest in services that truly keep people safe by divesting from police — building on the Anti Police-Terror Project’s five-year campaign to #DefundOPD and the Black Organizing Project’s 10-year campaign to dismantle the OUSD police department.
The Defund the Police Coalition, a broad coalition of Oakland-based community groups, has succeeded in mobilizing the community to defy the curfews, kicking school police out of Oakland schools and colleges, holding packed town halls, marching in the streets by the thousands, and engaging in peaceful civil disobedience at the homes of the school board directors, councilmembers, and the mayor.
Nearly two-thousand people from Oakland participated in a survey outlining who should serve on the commission- and made clear that survivors of police violence and community based experts should be centralized on the transition team. The community said resoundingly that current or former representatives from law enforcement and their families should not be involved in the task force. Thousands of community members have voiced support for reinvesting the money cut from OPD into housing, mental health support, healthcare, youth programs, jobs, and other social services that are proven to strengthen public safety.
“The People are clear: we want to divest from policing and invest in the Black New Deal. We’ll settle for nothing less — and there will be repercussions for any councilmember who stands in our way come November.” – James Burch, Policy Director, Anti Police-Terror Project
The Defund the Police Coalition includes Anti Police-Terror Project, Defund OPD, Oakland Rising, Ella Baker Center, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, ACCE, Community Ready Corps, Bay Rising, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, Asians for Black Lives, Black Organizing Project, and many other Oakland community organizations.
Defund the Police Coalition marches to an Oakland City Council member’s home. | Photo: Zach Land-Miller