By Alex Boutros, Organizing Manager
My name is Alex Boutros and I constituent of the 46th ward in the lakeview/uptown area. Firstly, I stand in solidarity with the Caitlin, the 13 year old constituent who spoke at the beginning of this meeting.
I am here today to say that no matter how much you fund the police department, it will not stop this virus, nor the economic impact that it is causing our community members and our small businesses forced to close their doors forever. We need a major shift in priority as you, Mayor Lightfoot, announced that the city is averaging 1,900 new cases of Covid a day with some areas seeing positivity rates of 25%. Mayor and Aldermen this is a public health & safety issue and should be treated as such.
Our office of emergency management has 1,672 people–that’s barely an 8th of the CPD employment. Our department of public health has only 488 people. That is 1/26 of the number of employees in CPD. There are 13,411 people that work for the police department that haven’t even–at the least–been trained to provide necessary aid during this pandemic. Not only does CPD’s bloated budget drain so much funding from other city programs, their officers’ inability to wear masks and high COVID-19 cases would indicate they cause multiple forms of harm, without any meaningful protection for our city.
I ask the city council to vote “no” on the Mayor’s budget until the overfunding of the police department and the lack of funding of our other city departments is addressed. By defunding CPD, the city’s current reliance on cannabis tax revenue to avoid layoffs could be avoided. We could direct those funds to the Department of Public Health, Human Relations, Office of Disabilities, Family and Social Services, and the Chicago Public Library; or we could even go so far as to invest in a reparations program like is being done in Evanston and Will county.
I have attached to my submitted written testimony a graph from the inspector general of chicago’s data portals that further illustrates the overfunding of the police department by comparing the personnel expenses next to that of our fire department and our other less funded services.
City council, we don’t need to raise property taxes, we need to readjust our priorities. Vote no on this budget.