John Legend, Lizzo, The Weeknd, Common and others signed an open letter on Tuesday, urging local governments to decrease police budgets in favor of spending more on health care, education, and other community programs.
The letter, written in response to the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police, was released by Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and a founding member of the Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of over 100 black-rights organizations.
Others signing the letter include Jane Fonda, Yada Shahidi, Talib Kweli, Natalie Portman, America Ferrera, Brie Larson and Taraji P. Henson.
The letter ties together the deaths of unarmed black people like Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and others to the disproportionately devastating toll COVID-19 has inflicted on black communities.
It states in part, “The COVID-19 deaths and the deaths caused by police terror are connected and consequential to each other. The United States does not have a national healthcare system. Instead, we have the largest military budget in the world, and some of the most well-funded and militarized police departments in the world, too.”
“Policing and militarization overwhelmingly dominate the bulk of national and local budgets,” the letter continues. “In fact, police and military funding has increased every single year since 1973, and at the same time, funding for public health decreased every year, crystallized most recently when the Trump administration eliminated the U.S. Pandemic Response Team in 2018, citing ‘costs.’”
The open letter concludes by urging others to take the pledge, demanding their local officials: “Vote no on all increases to police budgets; Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets; and Vote yes to increase spending on Health care, Education, and Community programs that keep us safe.”
By George Costantino
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