SF City Hall breaks last year’s promise to divest from policing

Phelicia Jones chanting at the podium in front of City Hall in June 2020 during the George Floyd uprisings. Since then, the mayor and Board of Supervisors have made countless promises stating their intention to cut funding and resources for policing. At the recent budget approval meeting, these promises were broken – with an increase to both SFPD and the Sheriff Department’s budgets justified by an influx of federal funding said to be increasing all budgets. If even a small percentage of the new funding being funneled to the police here in SF went to resources to house, feed and employ our poor and homeless siblings, things could be turned around for so many of us. – Photo: Kevin N. Hume, S.F. Examiner

by DefundSFPDNow

In the wake of the George Floyd protests last year, Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors made national headlines for their calls to defund the police in favor of investments in San Francisco’s Black community. Most of the specifics of those promises were deferred to this year’s budget process. 

On Tuesday, June 29, however, in a unanimous vote, the Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced a budget that reinstates academy classes that were cut last year and again fails to refund the community the $24.7 million cost of operating the 850 Bryant jail, which employed about 100 deputies and closed last year. 

“The city has once again abdicated its responsibility to refund the people for the hard-fought closure of the jail at 850 Bryant, an effort driven and supported by over 90 community organizations over seven years,” said Christine Wei from the No New SF Jail Coalition. 

“This budget doubles down on our city’s investment in the racist and violent institutions that have never been able to keep us safe.”

“The $24.7 million should be immediately reinvested into the housing, healthcare and education we need to thrive instead of bankrolling the eviction of vulnerable San Franciscans, creating barriers to accessing needed care and tearing families apart.”

The proposed budget shows that the city will not honor its promises or listen to the hundreds of people who mobilized against policing during the past year. While the budget partly funds some important programs including a community-led, non-police response to homelessness, the Compassionate Alternative Response Team (CART), it also increases both the San Francisco Police Department and Sheriff’s Department budgets compared to last year. 

“This budget doubles down on our city’s investment in the racist and violent institutions that have never been able to keep us safe. The only way to create real public safety is to reduce the number of interactions between police and our communities and to invest in the life-affirming care needed to prevent harm from occurring in the first place,” said Jamie Chen from DefundSFPDNow. 

The No New SF Jail Coalition is a coalition of local organizations, residents and community members joining together to fight the expansion of imprisonment and criminalization in San Francisco. 

The Defund SFPD Now campaign is a grassroots abolitionist campaign committed to re-imagining public safety by replacing policing and prisons with the life-affirming care needed to support and empower us all. Reach them at defundsfpdnow@gmail.org and visit www.defundsfpdnow.com to learn more. Follow them on Instagram @defundsfpdnow.