Things aren’t okay right now, and I’ve been following the protests and police violence on Twitter all weekend. Today I saw some tweets that prompted me to take more local action.

(Note: Kelly has since posted a correction to the above tweet that the $3 billion number is actually 44% of the budget, not 54%. She later clarified that it’s approximately 54% of the unrestricted Los Angeles budget that goes to the LAPD. This budget stuff is complex and other people are much better positioned to explain it, so I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole here.)

For my email, I borrowed much of the language from the letter to Councilmember Martinez on the Action Network site (originally shared by Shannon Hay), which references The People’s Budget. I also used Kelly’s script that she shared for phone calls.

After sending this email to Councilmember Martinez I was confirming information to send the same email body to the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Paul Krekorian. That’s when I noticed this update:

I asked an organizer in my network, and he was able to confirm that Garcetti’s budget has not passed and that we still have time to pressure the city council to reallocate the budget:

As far as I understand, that is correct. The budget is not being discussed because there is no meeting. We have the chance to organize councilmembers to demand cuts to LAPD funding.

Still, I would like to share my story. What follows is the email I sent to Councilmember Martinez today, including links.

To Council President Nury Martinez:

I am a lifelong resident of Los Angeles. Both my parents were born in LA. My family has run multiple small businesses in the city of LA and LA county since my grandfather opened his Santa Monica plumbing supply store in 1948, which remained a cornerstone of the community until it closed in 2014.

I’ve been privileged to grow up in LA in relative safety. Another one of my family’s businesses worked closely with police departments, supplying steel targets for their gun ranges. My white skin, native English, and American citizenship meant I never feared police shooting skills developed using my family’s targets. Black Americans don’t have that privilege.

This weekend we saw countless examples of police brutality against peaceful protestors. Rather than protecting and serving the community, the police are instigating and escalating violence. The police do not deserve an exorbitant budget for purchasing military equipment to be used against Los Angeles residents. Especially right now, the police do not deserve our trust.

We are in the middle of an economic and health crisis. We do not need a budget that increases funding to LAPD when crime is low, and slashes funding to services and support when the need is so great. I want to call for decreased funding of LAPD and investment in services that support and strengthen our communities.

Though City Council declined to vote on Mayor Garcetti’s draconian budget on May 21, your inaction since then is tantamount to approval. You have the choice to uphold the systemic racism inherent in the Mayor’s budget by allowing it to go into effect, or to lead us in creating a more just and equitable future for Los Angeles by amending the budget to align with the needs of Angelenos.

Today, we are calling on you to:

  • Reject Mayor Garcetti’s budget
  • Propose and vote for amendments in line with the People’s Budget
  • Call an emergency meeting of City Council for today, Monday, June 1, to pass a budget that prioritizes our needs and values

In this crisis especially, I implore you to have an emergency meeting to redistribute city wealth and defund the police. LAPD does not need 44% of the Los Angeles budget. Angelenos demand a change.

Thank you for your time.

Shelby Spees