The Boston Cyclists Union’s vision for “safe streets” goes beyond bike infrastructure and transit access. It also includes ensuring everyone—especially Black people and other people of color who are subjected to racism, violence and police brutality—feel safe traveling through every neighborhood of Boston.
Today, one year after police in Minneapolis murdered George Floyd, we have an opportunity to move closer to that vision. The BCU is supporting demands developed by Defund BosCops, a coalition of community groups, which support our vision of streets that are safe and welcoming to all. (A full list of demands is listed below.)
Here’s what you can do:
The City Council will discuss the Boston Police Department (BPD) budget tomorrow, Wednesday, May 26, at 3pm. Before then, contact your City Councilor, At-Large Councilors and Mayor Janey and ask them to reduce police spending and invest in all communities across the city.
Use the form below to quickly send a pre-formatted email (you can customize your message) to councilors and Mayor Janey.
We’re supporting the following demands from Defund BosCops:
- Enact a 30% budget cut to the BPD, totaling $120 million.
- Invest the $120 million into safety and wellness programming, led by and designed by the community, and completely disconnected from law enforcement.
- Enact an immediate hiring freeze. BPD claims they need 2 new classes (250 officers) to reduce their overtime budget, but there is no explanation of how increasing staff will reduce the overall budget.
- Reduce the BPD overtime budget to $20 million, as was demanded last year but not met, and put accountability measures in place to ensure that cut.
- Replace BPD jobs doing traffic enforcement and detail for road construction, street festivals and events with civilian jobs, bringing quality, high-paying employment opportunities to Boston residents.
These demands are supported by a growing list of groups including: Alternatives for Community and Environment, Asian American Resource Workshop, Black Lives Matter Boston, Boston Cyclists Union, Building Up People Not Prisons, Families for Justice as Healing, Kavod, Massachusetts Bail Fund, Mijente, Muslim Justice League, Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project, Young Abolitionists, Youth Justice & Power Union.
If you prefer to call instead of email, you can look up your councilor and their contact info on the Boston.gov website. (Reply to this email if you call so we can track our collective impact and share that with the coalition.) There is additional information tailored to each Councilor on Youth Justice and Power Union’s website to guide your outreach, as well as phone numbers.
Click here to read more about specific demands, hopes and questions coming out of the Defund BosCops coalition.
More background + why we’re engaged on this issue
We know from speed and crash data that safety is achieved through infrastructure changes that slow cars down. It is not achieved by punishing bad behavior, but by preventing it in the first place. That’s why we believe Vision Zero should focus on infrastructure, not policing. And when it does come to enforcement of traffic laws, we support initiatives to remove police from the equation, like automated enforcement (using cameras to ticket red light, speeding and other infractions.) According to data from NYC, automated enforcement reduced speeding by 60%.
We are also committed to reducing harmful interactions between police and civilians. According to the Bureau of Justice, being pulled over while driving is the most common way that members of the public interact with police officers. These stops disproportionately impact people of color. In Massachusetts, we have seen racial disparities in traffic stops related to the new Hands Free Driving Bill, with white drivers being much more likely to get a warning instead of tickets compared to Black and Hispanic drivers. Reducing the role of policing in traffic enforcement also has life-saving potential. Data from 2015 showed about 11% of fatal police shootings across the country result from a traffic stop.
To learn more about alternatives to policing, check out https://defundthepolice.org/alternatives-to-police-services.