The nationwide outrage triggered by the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery (amongst others) has only solidified the severity of the moral crisis we are facing in the United States. We demand an end to the systemic racism and violence embedded in the police department. We are seeing a surge in effective methods to terminate the unjust murders of Black and Brown people by police officers in communities across the U.S. Our city, Miami, is in need of IMMEDIATE ACTION to prevent further oppressive abuse from the Miami Police Department (MPD). Floyd’s death has prompted city governments in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle to begin defunding their police force. In order to ensure the protection of Miami residents, we are pressing Mayor Suarez to follow their example and defund the MPD.
The appalling actions conducted by the MPD throughout the recent Black Lives Matter protests have set a clear divide between the citizens of Miami and those whose roles are to protect us. The MPD has been caught on video abusing their power against the Miami protestors and stripping them of their constitutional and human rights. The police department is obligated to allow people to exercise their First Amendment rights and keep them safe. Police brutality has only increased since the protests began, proving that the police are not on the side of the people. MPD has attacked unarmed protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets on multiple occasions.
In Miami-Dade County, 45% of the $2.2 billion general fund – or $990 million – goes to police and the corrections system. In Miami, roughly $263 million goes to police: that’s approximately 30% of the city’s $830 million operating budget. This utter disproportion in the use of tax payer funds needs to be fixed immediately. We demand that the city of Miami lowers the amount of money given to the Miami Police department. We demand that other services, especially those which will benefit underserved communities, receive more money. We demand affordable housing, mental health services, substance abuse care, violent prevention programs, parks, and public libraries. The city of Miami needs to make a change and redistribute the funds. These funds need to go toward helping our schools, homeless population, infrastructure, hospitals, etc. We demand change, and we CAN defund the police. As citizens of Miami, we need to come together to allow our voices to be heard and put our hard earned money toward sectors of the city’s budget that will enhance the lives of our society, not take them away like the MPD has done.
Defunding or divesting the MPD is a call-to-action for our community leader to take accountability for maintaining the safety and health of Miami’s residents, especially the Black people that account for over half of the city’s population. These resources can be taken and invested into helping communities in a city whose history is rooted in protecting civil rights. We seek to re-invest in the city’s Black communities, which house people who are affected by police brutality the most and to decrease police spending and re-invest in healthcare, education, green-spaces, living-wage policies and affordable housing.
Our city needs the trust and confidence that our local officials will do everything to protect our health and safety. The current system must be replaced. Now is the time to invest in a safe, liberated future for Miami. We cannot keep funding racial injustice or attacks on Black lives. We can no longer stand under the oppression of the Miami police department. It is time to take action. It’s now or never. Stop the systematic racism this city has faced for too many years.
We need acknowledgment and accountability for the inherent pain and injustice afflicted on the minorities in our community. We need investment in the health and prosperity of our neighbors who need it most. We need divestment in the police force.