Defunders keep fighting
“Does abolition really mean ending the police? Yes.”
So said community organizer Ang Conn, as she spearheaded last Wednesday’s Zoom conversation on policing, hosted by Defund Cville Police. Over 80 community members joined in on the call.
The group hopes to keep the pressure on as the summer of protests moves into autumn. Though Charlottesville City Council has proposed a mental health crisis response task force, it has yet to take any action toward reducing CPD’s budget.
Defund Cville Police wants City Council to cut the police budget by 60 percent and invest those funds in housing, education, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and other low-barrier community services.
The group has also called for a freeze on police hiring, and the creation of a community crisis hotline, which would dispatch responders trained in de-escalation, trauma-informed care, and transformative and restorative justice.
According to Conn, defunding will help the community work toward police abolition. “We’ll take that budget yearly until it’s zero,” she said.
Several other activists—including UVA students—joined Conn in leading a presentation on policing, starting with its racist origins. While slave patrols surveilled and captured enslaved Black people in the South, police forces emerged to maintain race and class hierarchy in the North.
The activists discussed how Black and brown communities—along with other marginalized groups, like organized labor and houseless people—have been systemically harmed by law enforcement at every level.
UVA student Donavon Lea described police reforms, like body cameras and additional training, as a “band-aid for a bigger issue”—they only feed more money into the prison industrial complex, and away from communities.
“Society has the idea of hiding folks away in prisons…when we have the ability and resources to address these issues in society,” added Conn.
Pumping funding into police departments has not helped victims, particularly those of sexual and interpersonal violence, the activists emphasized. About 99 percent of sexual assault perpetrators walk free, while more than 90 percent of domestic violence cases reported to the police do not result in jail time, and may cause more problems for the victim.
The activists will continue to pressure the city, but in the meantime, Conn encouraged all the event attendees to get involved in mutual aid and support, which she said will help to build a police-free community.
Quote of the week
“The majority of the rallies, demonstrations, and marches here are primarily people [who] don’t look very diverse.”
—Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney, implying that this year’s Black Lives Matter protests have included too many white people
A quick drive around the Corner on a weekend night reveals that some UVA students are partying on, undeterred by the virus or the school’s 10-person limit on gatherings. Lines to get into bars often wrap around the block. Under Virginia’s Phase 3 guidelines, restaurants are allowed to open for indoor dining but “bar seats and congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through-traffic.”
Last year, Hinton Avenue Methodist Church was shocked to find that a group of Belmont residents opposed the church’s plan to set up Rachel’s Haven, a 15-unit apartment building including several units reserved for those with intellectual disabilities. Now, the group that started a petition against the project is trying to abandon its own cause, scared off by “an outright attack on our group” on social media, reports The Daily Progress.
Albemarle teachers—along with parents, students, and other supporters—gathered in front of the Albemarle County Office Building on Fifth Street last week to protest the district’s move to Stage 3, which will put up to 5,000 preschoolers through third graders in the classroom.
After months of pandemic losses, Charlottesville restaurants will no longer have to pay the city’s deferred outdoor space rental fee for the months of March and April, and only need to cover half of the fee for the following months, according to an ordinance passed by City Council on Monday. Restaurants seeking to rent more outdoor space will also get a 50 percent discount.