To Grow Real Safety and Liberation, We Must Divest from Police and Invest in Community in St. Paul

  • Police do not solve poverty, housing instability or homelessness, and, in fact, their racist enforcement of laws compounds economic injustice and entrenches housing instability by subjecting communities of color to the immense costs and consequences of being ensnared in the criminal justice system.
  • Police do not solve the staggering rates of unemployment in our communities of color and lack of investment in BIPOC-owned businesses, and, in fact, police create a culture of surveillance and intimidation in both public and private spaces and, as we saw during the uprising with, for instance, the massive presence outside the Midway Target, violently protect corporate wealth while abandoning community businesses.
  • Police do not solve the fatal and racialized gaps in access to healthcare, and, in fact, police intentionally instill fear and trigger generational trauma in communities of color, inflicting physical harm and emotional harm that keep our neighbors in constant states of stress and anxiety that destroy their quality of life on a daily basis.
  • Police do not solve the massive educational gaps and lack of resources and opportunities for youth, especially youth of color, and, in fact, police routinely scrutinize, harass and criminalize young people for simply being in public space or embodying the energy of children.
  • We have the money — but prioritize the police over everything else. The police budget consumes 32% percent of the city’s proposed general fund. This means that, if implemented, St. Paul would spend more on policing than on libraries, financial empowerment, BIPOC business development, human rights, youth job development, arts and community gardening initiatives, citywide recreation programs, and winter street maintenance COMBINED.
  • When faced with choices, we starve other programs to serve police. The proposed budget released in August 2020 cuts the police budget by only 0.8 percent while cutting libraries by almost 7 percent, the city’s human rights and equal economic opportunity department by 8 percent, and the office of financial empowerment by 11 percent, while also cutting the city’s public health spending by almost 17 percent.
  • And yet the SPPD continues to be a source of harm and terror for countless residents. SPPD is among the worst in the nation. Its fatal use of force rate is almost double the national average and its deadly force rate for Black people is nearly three times the national average, with the SPPD killing Black people at six times the rate that they kill white people. From pulling over vastly more people of color during traffic stops to brutal attacks by an out-of-control canine unit, our police force has a track record as racist and cruel as the MPD.
  • It looks like compensating a cabinet of diverse community members to co-govern alongside elected leaders and city employees in the earliest stages of planning and decision-making related to community safety in St. Paul.
  • It looks like less focus on compliance and conformity and a greater focus on humanizing systems and services to ensure all members of our city are thriving.
  • It sounds like the music, laughter, and conversations about love, respect, and belonging at trauma-healing and peace-building events organized by trusted community members — not police.
  • It looks like a mental-health crisis response unit of trained mental health workers who respond separately from police and who have the expertise to de-escalate mental health and other trauma induced crises rather than responding to them with the tools of law enforcement.
  • It looks like funding credible messenger-led programs that take a community-oriented, public health-informed approach to preventing violence.
  • It looks like prioritizing wellness, safe and stable homes and households, access to affordable health care — including mental health care and addiction treatment — for every person in St. Paul.
  • It looks like funding community navigators, executive coaches and other trained professionals to respond to people dealing with homelessness and other related crises.
  • It looks like funding a robust program of restorative practices that offer people opportunities to repair harm, heal, and transform outside of the prison pipeline.
  • It looks like jobs programs for youth and adults that build community wellness through green infrastructure projects, growing and distributing food, cleaning up polluted areas, and creating art that enlivens the beauty of public spaces.
  • It looks like ending the state of structural violence that leads to the systemic degradation and premature death of Black lives in St. Paul.

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Root & Restore St Paul

Root & Restore St Paul

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We are a citywide collaboration of individuals and organizations working to advance police accountability, community-defined safety, and racial justice.