Editor, The Transcript:
The City of Norman must do better by its residents. Therefore, I am urging citizens to call, write or email Mayor Clark and their city council member and urge them to divest from the criminalization of our communities and reduce police spending in the budget for the 2021 fiscal year and beyond.
Due to COVID-19, the already stretched city budget is more than likely going to be in worse shape.
However, I have a solution that creates multifaceted results. Please ask them to make a more overt and visible commitment to budget approval so that the City Council may find ways to divest funds and resources from the Norman Police Department.
In the FY 2020 budget, police received a total of $22,350,569 or 27% of total General Fund expenditures. This is unacceptable in current times.
I know the vast majority of Norman citizens feel strongly about racial justice and equity, and I urge you to address this with the currently leadership.
I am not asking for a total defunding of the police force. I understand their value in our communities. However, the values law enforcement represent nationwide need to evolve to real community policing instead of criminalization via racism.
It’s time we pressure the city manager’s office toward an ethical reallocation of the city’s expenditures toward sectors that facilitate the dismantling of racial and class inequality.
This includes, but is not limited to improving access to health services and treatment, educational opportunity and stable housing, which have proven far more successful at promoting community safety and social equity than policing.
Individual solutions will not fix systemic problems. It is time for Norman, its leaders, and residents to create a more equitable city for all of us.
We need to have the moral clarity to create a budget focused on communities instead of investing in a racist and destructive institution.
Dramatically reduce funding for the Norman Police Department.
JAMES “KELSEY” CONDLEY