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10/31/2015 | Base-Building & Affiliates, Combating Discriminatory Policing

Investing in Opportunity

In early October, the Center for Popular Democracy brought together 20 partners and allies from across the country to start a conversation about our Get Free!: Justice and Opportunity Initiative. Organizers and community leaders from Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Miami, Cleveland, Orlando, Detroit, Los Angeles, Texas and New York came together to discuss how we can work together to attack the root causes of systemic poverty, violence, and racism by examining the priorities set by city and state budgets throughout the country.

During the one-day convening we shared research and ideas about how to create an affirmative vision coupled with a concrete plan for reallocating state funds to invest in quality jobs, education, and community-based justice programs in the communities (especially, but not exclusively, Black and Latino communities) that have systematically been stripped of resources and wealth.

Many local, state and national investments in criminalization are fundamentally misguided and come at the expense of the overall health of communities. This is symptomatic of a failing and flawed system. A focus on local policies and budgets in cities that face severe crises of opportunity and are most impacted by mass criminalization, policing, and incarceration provides an opportunity to elevate innovative and effective policy and organizing solutions and build momentum for national change.

The Center for Popular Democracy has been conducting research on local municipal budgets and working with partners and allies to develop policy and budget proposals that better align our budgets with our core values of racial justice and opportunity. We are looking forward to continuing to work with state and local organizations to support campaigns that push states and municipalities to rethink their investment priorities and policies.