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Jacksonville demands a People’s Budget, no new police funding

By staff

Jacksonville rally demands a People's Budget.

Jacksonville, FL – Around 40 community members, led by the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) came out to Jacksonville City Hall July 27 to rally and demand a People’s Budget before the city council meeting started.

The week before, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry released his proposed 2021-2022 budget, which calls for an increase to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) budget by $29 million, bringing their total share of the budget to around $513 million and accounting for nearly 40% of city spending.

Community members from the Northside Coalition, Southern Women Against Gun Violence and representatives from other organizations all came out to speak at the rally and gave public comment before the city councilors.

“We came out to demand our city officials allocate our taxpayer dollars to ending poverty, not more policing,” said Monique Sampson of the JCAC. “We’ve seen JSO’s budget go up every year while the Black community struggles to get roads repaired and septic tanks removed. We have the democratic right to determine how our money is spent.”

Despite the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s consistent increase in funding the previous years, Jacksonville has not experienced a decrease in crime and had an actual uptick in violent crime along with citizen police complaints last year. The JCAC says the People’s Budget aims to address the social issues that contribute directly to crime and poor public health. It includes proposals for investment in living wage job opportunities, mental health services and strengthened city infrastructure. The People’s Budget also contains legislation that activists are pushing for, including marijuana decriminalization, demanding city contracts go to Black contractors equally, and redirecting sheriff’s office funds to helping grow Black small business.

Organizers also say the People’s Budget aims to strengthen organized labor through redirecting city funds away from policing to public workers and a creation of a large public works program that would hire workers at a living wage. The People’s Budget contains the push for legislation such as a union neutrality ordinance for any vendor doing business with the city, along with calls for raising taxes on the wealthy to fund development in the Urban Core, Northwest and Out East, three historically Black and underdeveloped areas in Jacksonville.

“In the Black Belt and in cities like Jacksonville in the Black Belt, you’ve seen historic underdevelopment,” said Neal Jefferson with the JCAC. “The People’s budget aims to change that.”

After the rally, around 25 community members gave public comment demanding city council persons hear their calls.

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