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.