Since the uprisings began, the Philadelphia organizing community has made unequivocal demands for the City of Philadelphia to vote NO on a proposed increase to the police budget. In recent days, the city has responded to this public pressure and announced a reduction to the police budget by $33 million dollars. This supposed decrease in funding is simply a ploy by city officials to mislead the public. City Council has merely moved the budget for crossing guards to another department of city government. This type of subterfuge is unacceptable. We demand an immediate and authentic reduction in the police budget by 20%. We want public funds to enrich our communities, not the police. We demand the originally proposed $14 million police budget increase be augmented by $11 million and go to the Philadelphia School District budget for the removal of environmental hazards from schools, namely, asbestos and lead paint, which is estimated to cost $25 million per year.
We will not permit the Black community’s legitimate struggle against white supremacy to be criminalized. Since the rebellion began, police have trapped and tear gassed protesters on I-676, they have unleashed rubber bullets and war munitions on 52nd Street in the heart of West Philadelphia, and they have brutalized protesters while arresting them as recently as Monday, June 22nd. The apologies of Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Outlaw about this treatment are not acceptable or accepted. We demand an end to the use of tear gas, grenades, assault rifles and surveillance in our neighborhoods and at the protests. We further demand that DA Larry Krasner drop all arrests and charges against community members and activists in relation to the rebellion and that no future detainment, arrests or charges be made. We demand an independent and transparent investigation into the use of force against protesters as well as the extreme disparities in the use of force by police when confronting protests against police violence as opposed to white vigilantes in South Philadelphia and Fishtown.
After decades of work by Philadelphia’s Black organizers and community members, Mayor Kenney finally conceded to the demand to remove the statue of Frank Rizzo. Mayor Kenney has also agreed to remove the Christopher Columbus statue. We demand the immediate public destruction of these white supremacist symbols of hate, oppression and violence so that they can never be erected elsewhere. The street sign honoring Wilson Goode is an equally flagrant symbol of state violence against Black Philadelphia, as former Mayor Goode presided over the bombing of our city and the murder of 11 members of the MOVE family, including 5 children in 1985. We demand that the street be reverted to its original name. We further demand legislation that removes all other existing monuments of state violence and ensures that no future symbols of state violence against Black, Indigenous, or Brown people be permitted in the city of Philadelphia.