First Steps Include Defund & Demolish City Jail
Communities Over Cages: Close the Jail ATL Campaign co-anchors Women on the Rise & Racial Justice Action Center, and several campaign alliance members including Black Futurists Group, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Georgia Detention Watch, NAACP- Georgia Chapter, Project South, Showing Up for Racial Justice- Atlanta Chapter, Southern Center for Human Rights, Southerners on New Ground, and Women Watch Afrika all signed on to a list of demands to the city in the wake of the police murder of Rayshard Brooks.
The demands, called Redeeming Atlanta: First Steps, include policy proposals to defund the city jail and commit to demolishing the building.
As long as the Atlanta City Detention Center remains open, APD will have reason to arrest people in order to fill it. Every day the jail remains open, Atlantans are at risk for further harassment, violence, and death at the hands of APD. Closing the jail and demolishing it moves Atlanta further from violent policing and closer to equity, freedom, and wellness.
The demands and policy proposals were presented at a press conference at City Hall on Monday.
You can read the document in full below:
Redeeming Atlanta: First Steps
We are a group of grassroots and advocacy organizations who represent Atlanta’s Black, Brown, poor, and LGBTQ residents, and as such we have necessarily become experts in the field of criminal justice, policing, and public safety.
For the last 30 years, the Atlanta City Council has taken a leading role in creating the kind of policing that killed Rayshard Brooks.
Year after year, you have introduced and passed legislation to turn the everyday activities of Black people and poor people into criminal acts. Every single one of the so-called quality of life ordinances was introduced and passed by this City Council. The Council supported and funded the building of an extra jail for the 1996 Olympics and has funded it for decades, each year approving millions of dollars to be spent locking up Black people for the most petty and minimal of offenses.
This Council has supported and funded a police force that prioritizes harassing and arresting poor people and Black people and trans and queer people who make white tourists and visitors uncomfortable. You have proposed and supported mean-spirited ordinances attempting to banish people you don’t like from the city. You have supported and funded a city Department of Corrections and municipal court system that wastes hundreds of millions of dollars every year “prosecuting” people for spitting on the sidewalk and jaywalking -- dollars that could have been spent providing services and support.
Given the chance to right these wrongs and close the city jail, you have made excuses and dragged your feet. Many of you balked because you were so pleased that the chief jailer sent prisoners to your district to pick up trash for free. The jail remains open.
Given the chance to right these wrongs and implement sweeping bail reform, current members carved out exceptions, watered down provisions, and hindered full implementation.
Given the chance to right these wrongs and fund alternatives to 911 and arrest, you threw pennies at programs while increasing the police budget by millions.
When police killed Atlantans and family members came to Council looking for answers and asking for reforms, you did nothing. Worse, most of you defended the system of policing that this City Council helped to build. You blamed the people who were killed. You belittled—or sat silently while your colleagues belittled—family members who came to speak to you. You ignored solutions that were offered over and over again with each police killing: Alexia Christian, DeAundre Phillps, Deravis Rogers, Jimmy Atchison, Oscar Cain. Say their names. Each one of their deaths was a call to action for you to take leadership and make desperately needed changes and you ignored each and every one.
We are calling for the Atlanta City Council and the Mayor to stop defending an indefensible system.
We are calling on the City to take responsibility for your part in creating this culture, system, and institution of policing that this country has suddenly, finally come to see for its ineffectiveness and its brutality.
We are calling on each and every one of the members of City Council to acknowledge the role you have played in funding and supporting this system of policing that killed Rayshard Brooks.
Your defensiveness is shameful. Your foot dragging is inexcusable. It is your responsibility, as City Council members and as the Mayor, to start the work of completely reconstructing the systems of safety and wellness in this city. This is work that must be done to atone and make right the decades of harm caused by the police violence, harassment and abuse.
This is work that must be started immediately—with this current budget—and pursued with focus and urgency.
These are the first steps to a new vision of public safety:
1. DEFUND THE ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT & REALLOCATE THE RESOURCES: APD has failed to improve public safety and wellness. Attempts to curb police violence through increased trainings have been ineffective. To dismantle and replace a department that has proven ineffective at carrying out its mandate and is nonresponsive to reforms, a plan should be created for defunding APD and reallocating the resources to more effective, community based strategies for reducing crime and increasing safety.
2. DEFUND & DEMOLISH THE JAIL: As long as the Atlanta City Detention Center remains open, APD will have reason to arrest people in order to fill it. Every day the jail remains open, Atlantans are at risk for further harassment, violence, and death at the hands of APD. Closing the jail and demolishing it moves Atlanta further from violent policing and closer to equity, freedom, and wellness.
3. JUSTICE FOR OUR PEOPLE. The city of Atlanta has a duty to hold APD accountable for the lives it has taken. Officers must be held accountable for killing people. Failing to address the police killings in the past has accumulated distrust in the City of Atlanta’s value of Black Life.
Specific Policy Proposals to Achieve these Goals:
1. DEFUND APD & REALLOCATE THE RESOURCES:
The city of Atlanta should establish a Reimagining Public Safety plan creating a 5-7 year plan to dismantle APD and build a new community-based, community controlled public safety system.
The department’s FY2021 budget should be cut 50% by reducing APD’s scope of work, starting with relieving officers from all other forms of Quality of Life policing.
All dollars saved from the reduction in APD’s budget in FY21 should be reallocated to alternatives and community based resources including but not limited to diversion programs such as Pre-Arrest Diversion, and other community controlled programs.
Do not begin the hiring process of a new Chief of Police until a community based council can be formed to review APD scope of work and disperse hiring decision making power across a community review committee.
Decrease officer to resident ratio and demilitarize APD through assessing use of riot gear, chemical, and lethal weapons use.
2. DEFUND & DEMOLISH THE JAIL:
Close the jail on or before July 1st, 2020.
Ensure the proper resources are allocated to demolish the building and commit to it’s demolition on or before Sept 1st, 2020.
Adopt the Reimagine ACDC Taskforce Policy Recommendations and decriminalize the city code, so they carry no potential for arrest.
3. JUSTICE FOR OUR PEOPLE.
Reopen investigations into all APD killings since 2017 and develop a community tribunal to assess use of force and take steps to hold APD officers accountable.
Fire the APD officers who killed Alexia Christian who failed to follow policy and procedure.
Fire the APD officers who killed Oscar Cain who failed to turn on their body cameras, in accordance with APD policy.
Fire the APD officer who killed DeAundre Phillips who failed to follow policy and procedure.
Fire Erica Shields from the Atlanta Police department.
Signed (as of 6.19.20)
Black Futurists Group
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Georgia Detention Watch
NAACP- Georgia Chapter
Racial Justice Action Center
Showing Up for Racial Justice- Atlanta Chapter
Solutions NOT Punishment Collaborative
Southern Center for Human Rights
Southerners on New Ground
Women on the Rise
Women Watch Afrika
Working Families Party