DEMANDS FOR A SAFER ATLANTA 2021

Last summer, Atlanta and the rest of the world rose up to protest the police murders of Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others—with the rallying cry to defund the police. Since then, our city leaders have only failed us— choosing instead to amp up surveillance, hire more officers, and increase the police budget by nearly 7% in FY21, and again a proposed 6% in FY22 for a total of $275,853,125.

The fact is that harm and violence in Atlanta cannot be solved by policing. Rather, the solution lies in supporting the public services that have long gone underfunded in our city, including food security, clean water, housing, public and mental health care, and education. True safety lies in community, and the ways in which we interact with our neighbors, uplift and center marginalized communities, and work together to solve conflict in a way that’s rooted in community care, not carceral punishment.

To establish true public safety in Atlanta, we must not only meet people’s basic needs, but also take steps to defund, demilitarize, and diminish the power and reach of the Atlanta Police Department, which terrorizes Black and brown communities, gentrifies neighborhoods, and criminalizes poverty and homelessness through tactics like broken windows policing. Our demands offer a vision for a safer Atlanta and the steps necessary to build it—by defunding APD and using those liberated funds in the city budget to refund our communities.

While abolition is the horizon, these demands present the roadmap we must use to chip away at the power the police hold and dismantle the myth that policing is an appropriate way to respond to harm. Below is a summary of our short-term goals and the necessary steps to reduce policing and promote real, holistic, and sustainable forms of safety.

SUMMARY
REFUND ATLANTA COMMUNITIES

We demand reinvestment in community resources and social services to support the needs of community members and create conditions that generate safety. Atlanta will be kept safer through investment in unarmed and well-trained alternative response units, affordable housing, jobs, healthcare, mental health services, childcare, after-school programs, and other services that address harm at the root.

DEFUND ATLANTA POLICE

We demand a reduction to the unnecessarily massive and irresponsible APD budget, which continues to inflate annually. Despite claims to the contrary, surveillance, costly training, and equipment do not prevent harm or police violence, but instead perpetuate existing cycles of harm.

DIVEST FROM ATLANTA POLICE

We demand that on the road to abolition, that police have reduced responsibilities and limited community interaction. The police have demonstrated an inability, for example, to respond competently and carefully to mental health crises, homelessness, and other disputes and therefore should be replaced for these incidents with services and people who are trained in de-escalation and capable of providing necessary support.

DEMILITARIZE ATLANTA POLICE

We demand steps be taken to reduce the violence inflicted by APD by eliminating military-grade weaponry, no-knock warrants, and expensive training programs that teach repression tactics.

DISRUPT POLICE BRUTALITY

We demand APD and its officers take accountability for brutalizing, gentrifying, and otherwise harming Atlantans and their communities.

REFUND ATLANTA COMMUNITIES

We demand that City Council, informed by community input, redirect funds from the proposed FY22 police budget into public services and resources which will generate the conditions for real, sustainable safety. As City Council incrementally defunds the police and refunds communities each year on our pathway to abolition, we demand the involvement of community members in determining how diverted APD funds can best support their communities.

These refunded services and resources can include, but are not limited to, the following:

COMMUNITY SAFETY

Even with substantially improved community resources, we know harm will continue to occur. For this reason, we need real, non-carceral community safety measures that address the roots of why harm occurs, in addition to de-escalation and harm reduction training for members of our communities. Instead of relying on police, the city could expand funding for non-carceral response programs we already have, such as the Policing Alternatives and Diversions (PAD) program, or transfer effective programs from elsewhere, such as Oregon’s CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) and New York City’s Common Justice Initiative, which handles cases of violence and harm through restorative, non-carceral approaches. The city must also develop and fund in language emergency service resources for community members who have limited English proficiency.

YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES

Access to free or affordable childcare, education, and after school programs is essential for working families. Atlanta’s youth would also benefit from programs supporting youth entrepreneurship and offering training on violence interruption. The City of Atlanta must invest in its children from the start, instead of penalizing them later on for their attempts to survive a system that failed them.

PUBLIC HEALTH

The city should invest in much-needed comprehensive preventative health and mental healthcare services, instead of criminalizing people who are struggling with the consequences of untreated health conditions.

ENVIRONMENT

Environmental justice is racial justice, and the cleanliness of our air, water, and soil impacts the health of Atlanta’s communities. The city should fund affordable and accessible public transportation, renewable energy upgrades for residential and municipal purposes, workforce development programs, new parks and public greenspace, and protection of our urban forests and water sources.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Infrastructure is not maintained equitably across the City of Atlanta. Many areas of the city have been neglected and underfunded by the city government, and left with crumbling roads, no sidewalks, fallen trees and powerlines, and no access to broadband internet. In some neighborhoods the fix is as simple as adding stop signs and speed bumps to residential streets. Atlanta must invest in robust infrastructure throughout the city, not just the areas which pay high property taxes.

HOUSING

Each and every human being deserves housing. The city owes Atlantans permanent affordable housing options in communities with easy access to food and public transportation. Further, the city’s definition of “affordable” must expand to apply to those making below the 60th percentile in income. We mean housing for all. Finally, the city should offer housing for Atlanta’s unhoused community, housing services for people returning home from prison, and a municipal housing program that is owned and managed by residents—not developers.

CENTER FOR EQUITY

In 2019, the Mayor’s Reimagining ACDC Task Force recommended closing the Atlanta City Detention Center and replacing it with a Center for Equity, a space to “advance racial and economic equity, promote restorative justice, and invest in the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.” This center could easily be funded by money currently allocated towards policing.

DEFUND ATLANTA POLICE
CUT THE POLICE BUDGET BY 30%

We demand an immediate 30% cut to the APD budget. The City of Atlanta spends one-third of its General Fund on policing its own people, while underfunding programs that provide true safety. City Council must prioritize solutions over punishment and communities over criminalization, and allocate those police funds to public services.

GUARANTEE NO POLICE BUDGET INCREASES

As part of the path to abolition, we demand that City Council guarantee to never increase the Atlanta Police budget again.

CEASE FUNDING FOR POLICE PUBLIC RELATIONS

We demand that City Council immediately stop all funding for police public relations, including on social media, television, and news reporting. These public relations reinforce the myth that police not only keep people safe, but that they’re our only hope for safety.

NO NEW POLICE

We demand that City Council prevent APD from hiring new officers, stop construction of new training facilities, and defund ineffective and costly training programs altogether. If officers quit or are fired, there is no need to replace them—we can and should take advantage of natural attrition on our pathway to abolition.

END SURVEILLANCE CONTRACTS AND USE OF FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY

We demand that City Council prevent APD from using or spending money on surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology, and require the immediate termination of all surveillance contracts. Facial recognition technology is not only invasive, but designed with racial bias to target Black and brown communities. Further, APD’s use of surveillance equipment locks us into long and costly contracts with corporations whose profits are generated through mass incarceration.

CREATE A PATH TO ABOLITION

A 30% reduction must be only the first step toward full abolition. We demand that City Council develop a 5-year pathway to fully defund and abolish the Atlanta Police Department. Instead of keeping us safe, policing criminalizes marginalized communities and reinforces intergenerational poverty. The abolition of policing means the creation of a world in which we prevent harm by meeting people’s basic needs— including housing, healthcare, water, and quality education. Building this future will take time, resources, and community collaboration—and a plan.

DIVEST FROM ATLANTA POLICE
REMOVE APD FROM TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT

We demand that City Council develop an unarmed and demilitarized traffic safety department, free from police. Traffic management keeps drivers and pedestrians safe from speeding and reckless driving. However, APD and other police departments around the country abuse traffic laws to police, surveil, and brutalize civilians, often in ways which end in violence or death.

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REDIRECT EMERGENCY AND CIVIL RESPONSE AWAY FROM POLICE

We demand that City Council require that operators handling 911 calls send non-carceral, unarmed response units instead of police. In the absence of alternatives, many Atlantans still rely on 911 emergency services to resolve issues which do not require or benefit from an armed response. The city must expand 311 services to better address mental health crises, addiction, houselessness, domestic violence, evictions, and other harms.

STOP THE SWEEPS: DISBAND THE HOPE TEAM

We demand that City Council disband the Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement (HOPE) Team and stop using “community policing” initiatives to expand police power. The HOPE Team terrorizes unhoused Atlantans by harassing them and seizing their personal belongings. The city must instead offer direct support and resources to those in need of shelter and housing.

CUT TIES WITH THE ATLANTA POLICE FOUNDATION

We demand that the Mayor’s office and city government cut ties with the Atlanta Police Foundation and all its partners interested in furthering policing and carceral punishment. We also demand that any replacements to policing have no connection to the Atlanta Police Department nor the Atlanta Police Foundation. The Atlanta Police Foundation has maintained its power over Atlanta politics precisely due to the ties it has created and maintained with the Mayor’s office, City Council, and the CEOs of major corporations (through organizations like the Atlanta Committee for Progress.) All of these organizations work together to expand the reach of policing and harmful development projects, and these ties must be broken.

DEMILITARIZE ATLANTA POLICE
DISARM POLICE

We demand that City Council disarm APD immediately. Police are less likely to kill if they do not have weapons designed to kill.

END APD PARTICIPATION IN THE 1033 PROGRAM

We demand that City Council end APD’s participation in the 1033 program immediately. The 1033 program allows local police departments to acquire surplus military equipment—such as weapons and armored vehicles—through the U.S. Department of Defense. This equipment is used to terrorize civilians and protesters,and positions the police as a standing army in our communities.

DISMANTLE ATLANTA’S SWAT TEAM

We demand that City Council immediately disband the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units and end their violent tactics, which have historically been employed to target Black people and communities.

END VIOLENT SUPPRESSION TACTICS

We demand that City Council prohibit APD from using tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and drone surveillance under all circumstances—including during protests and public demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter and civil rights.

END APD PARTICIPATION IN THE GILEE PROGRAM

We demand that the Atlanta Police Department end all involvement with the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange Program (GILEE) program and the apartheid state of Israel. GILEE is an international police training program that sends APD officers to train with the Israeli army, importing the same tactics of extreme force and displacement with which the Israeli army terrorizes Palestinian civilians against the people of Atlanta

END CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE PROGRAM

We demand that City Council immediately end the invasive civil asset forfeiture program, through which APD is permitted to seize civil assets from civilians suspected of committing a crime, even before conviction. The program then pumps these resources into APD to fund surveillance technology like street cameras, drones, license plate readers, and body cameras.

DISRUPT POLICE BRUTALITY
BAN NO-KNOCK WARRANTS

We demand that City Council prohibit APD from using invasive and deadly no-knock warrants, such as the one that lead to the death of Breonna Taylor, in any and all circumstances.

TERMINATE POLICE INVOLVED IN VIOLENT INCIDENTS

To reduce harm, we demand that the city permanently fire any officers responsible for violent or deadly incidents against civilians, including bystanders who fail to intervene. Such incidents include but are not limited to deadly shootings, unnecessary use of force, and domestic violence. It is irresponsible and dangerous to allow any police officer responsible for committing violence to have continued interactions with the public.

MANDATE EXTERNAL REVIEW OF EVERY USE OF FORCE

We demand that City Council mandate external reviews, by community-elected representatives, of all complaints about police use of force. Because police are often able to fabricate untrue narratives to back up unnecessary use of force against civilians, these community boards must be independent of APD and, unlike the existing Atlanta Civilian Review Board, have full autonomy over the hiring, firing and other disciplinary decisions concerning officers who patrol their communities.

END QUALIFIED IMMUNITY

We demand that City Council immediately end qualified immunity, which protects officers from being held individually and personally liable in civil suits for violence and harm they inflict on people, instead leaving the City spending taxpayer money on these lawsuits. Qualified immunity is often used to excuse police of consequences for violence they’ve committed.

IMMEDIATE PAYMENTS FOR VICTIMS OF POLICE BRUTALITY

We demand that City Council require that APD immediately pay the medical bills of victims of police violence—regardless of circumstances—and pay families to cover the funeral costs for victims of police murder.