Call City Council: Defund BPD, Fund Our Futures
Between Tuesday, August 11th and Friday, August 14th, the Bellingham Defund Coalition will be contacting every member of city council to encourage them to cut the Police Department’s budget and transfer those resources elsewhere. We have two major goals…
1. Inform city council that we are committed to the maximum possible immediate cut in the police budget for the next two years as well as long-term shift of all of the spending on policing to non-punitive, demilitarized, and community-controlled institutions.
2. Establish exactly how much of a cut each council member is willing to commit to for the 2021-2022 budget.
Each day, we'll focus on contacting one or two councilmembers. Feel free to call only the councilmember who represents your ward, the councilmembers you feel will be more receptive, the councilmember listed for the day(s) that works best for you, or all the councilmembers.
Below is a schedule for calling, a sample script, and a report-back form to use once you've finished. Thanks for your commitment to helping us find out where city council stands!
- Bellingham Defund Coalition
Tuesday, August 11th
Call: Gene Knutson, 2nd Ward / (360) 734-4686
Wednesday, August 12th
Call Pinky Vargas, 4th Ward, (360) 778-8210
Lisa Anderson, 5th Ward, (360) 778-8217
Thursday, August 13
Michael Lilliquist, 6th Ward, (360) 778-8212
Hannah Stone, 1st Ward, (360) 778-8211
Friday, August 14th
Dan Hammill, 3rd Ward, (360) 778-8213
Hollie Huthman, At-Large (360) 778-8216
Hello, my name is _________________ and I live in Bellingham [or wherever you live. If you live in the councilmember's ward, you should let them know. You can also talk about your identity, experiences, groups you're involved in, or anything else that you think might emphasize why this issue is important to you. Personalizing this intro always helps, but also remember to consider your audience and keep it relatively brief.]
I’m calling to talk to you about the city’s problem with spending too much on policing. It’s my understanding that the city will spend over $30 million this year on the Police Department. I strongly believe that you need to cut the Police Department’s budget for next year and reallocate those funds towards education, housing, and other public safety priorities.
[Here you have two options – start high and let them bargain you down or start low and see how high you can bargain them up. You don't need to go through every number -- the goal here is to get a specific commitment to a percent cut rather than that commitment to being in line with our values]
1. I’m wondering if you would commit to freezing the police budget and ensuring that it is not one cent higher next year? Would you commit to a 5% cut? A 10% cut? 25%? 50%? Abolition!?
2. I’m wondering if you would commit to a 50% cut in police funding for the next budget? If not, would you commit to 25%? A 15% cut? 10%? A freeze that keeps it the same?
[You can listen to their speeches, justifications, or whatever else they want to say, but continue coming back to the question of a commitment to a specific numerical cut – the goal is to get a firm commitment even if it’s not great.
If they will not commit to a freeze or any cut, then tell them you are putting them down as in favor of increasing the police budget.
You can end the conversation however you see fit, but we suggest you reiterate that the city spends too much on police and you support shifting those funds elsewhere in the city budget, a point on which you can be as vague or specific as you wish. You can also highlight that these will be important decisions over the next few years as the country, state, and city reckon with the long-term effects of the pandemic.
You might have a frustrating conversation but remember that the goal here is more about information gathering than direct pressure. Thanking them for their time at the end is always a good move.]
REPORT BACK FORM (BELOW)
Using the form below, give us a brief report back on who you talked to, what they said regarding their commitment to cut the BPD budget, and any other information that came out in your conversation that you think may be important to know.
Thank you for your work!
Which council member did you call?
When did you call? (Time and Date)
Who did you speak with?
What percent cut to the BPD budget were they willing to commit to?
Do you have anything else to report back?
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