As we construct a more equitable society, we must engage communities that have been historically neglected, and levy the pressures they are facing in order to include them in our discourse.
There is so much work to be done before Madison’s Common Council represents everyone in this city. Currently, the city serves the people who have most access to commit hours of their evenings to write emails, attend public hearings, volunteer for committees, etc., which of course favors people with economic privilege.
As a Latiné, I hold a personal mission of bringing my community out of the shadows, and holding space on the council for them.
As an abolitionist, I will center blackness in my work towards liberation, and reconcile policy proposals with the lived experience of the black body in a place like Dane County.
As an organizer and intentional agitator, my voice on the Council will serve to call out and dismantle policy decisions that drive segregation and other white supremacist ideologies in our city. Whiteness manifest in many different insidious ways, most specifically in the ways that we construct relationships to one another.
By centering Black and Indigenous peoples in decisions, the city of Madison will work towards the liberation of all people.
Ho-Chunk people need to have mechanisms for direct decision making in city-wide affairs. As a city we should be embracing indigenous peoples as brothers and sisters and following their lead when it comes to decision of land, resource, and development.
Addressing the root causes of white supremacy
Before we address what to do about the inequalities, we must first address why the inequalities exist. Black and Brown bodies are inherently criminalized for simply existing in a white supremest capitalist society. This manifests in policies that imprison BIPOC in either brick and mortar jails, or economic detention. The list is not limited to fining undocumented immigrants for driving without a license, as my family has experienced, or jailing or imprisoning folks for non-violent drug offenses. The rolling back of these poverty inducing mechanisms is the critical first step necessary to promote black and brown excellence.
Re-invest in the community.
Defund the police.
The flip side of Defunding the Police is Refunding the Community. The community is calling for the boot to be taken off our necks.
We have to make bold divestments from state-sanctioned violence and the police who perpetuate these harms. We demand specific and intentional policy and funding to alleviate the harm over-policing has done to the BIPOC community. By reinvesting those monies into the wellbeing of the community we can begin to give every Madisonian a floor to stand on, instead of sweeping their feet out from them every time they are able to stand.
Crime is not a random act. Crime is derivative of the failures of the state to provide means to meet needs. Poverty breeds desperation. A critical lack of infrastructure drives the desperation behind crime; to keep our city safe, we must begin by meeting people’s basic needs.
We must address social problems at their root by providing economic relief, housing, education, universal day-care, access to healthy food, homeless support and expansion of Coordinated Entry, returning funding to the libraries to innovate access to information during the pandemic, and much more. This will do more to reduce the burden on our city and public safety than hiring more police officers.
As someone who grew up poor, I’m more interested in reducing the burden on over-policed populations than reducing the burden of police.
As a member of a mixed status family, I have been terrorized by the police my entire life.
Defunding the Police is a call to allow people who look like me and my black brothers and sisters to live in peace alongside the rest of Madison.
CAHOOTs model of public safety:
Police are expected to solve all of society’s social problems, but thus far there is no standard accountability procedure for when police murder people. That cannot be chalked up to “too many responsibilities.” The CAHOOTs model is thoroughly exciting because it offers an alternative to policing that will remain safer to the police simply because an unarmed expert will arrive at the scene to respond to a crisis.
Community control over the police
The Civilian Oversight Board should have the full autonomy and discretion to hire and fire officers on the force.
The police union has historically held immense amounts of political power in Madison, defending heinous violence perpetrated by police officers. So long as officers like Matt Kenny are allowed to murder our youth and continue to hold positions with the force, the community remains without control over the police.
Community control looks like giving denizens of Madison full discretion over officers serving on the force. Community control looks like limiting political power the police and police unions exert over our city’s operation and democratic process. Community control looks like holding the police accountable to their duty to serve and protect.
Demilitarize the Madison Police Dept.
As a staunch abolitionist, I am committed to defunding, demilitarizing, and eventually abolishing the police. First and foremost, the Madison Police Department should not be equipped with tear gas, pepper spray, and other instruments of war.
With the budget shortfalls caused by COVID-19, the MPD should eat all the cuts. Other departments in the city have made drastic cuts amidst the downturn, while MPD has failed to even attempt the mental exercise of reducing costs. A cut to MPD would have to begin with a drastic reduction in police presence. This would be both to the Academy and reducing the number of incoming officers, as well as full demilitarization of the police.
City non-cooperation with ICE and DEA
The city should not be working to further criminalize our own people. The DEA and ICE are rampant enablers of white supremacy. If elected to office, I will work to limit our interactions with state and federal agencies wherever possible. These three letter agencies target the breadwinners of families, seeking to destabilize everyday people trying to survive.
I still remember the ICE raids of 2018/2019 that held Madison immigrants hostage. I felt powerless as a student three hours away, knowing my family could be whisked away from me despite having no criminal history. I went through my university classes in a daze because I knew there was nothing I could do if my family was detained. The federal government has no right in deciding who’s humanity is legal, and neither is the city.
The sad truth is my story isn’t unique. It’s simply not represented in the council. We need to bring our immigrant communities out of the shadows. Give them the right to work in our city, to get driver cards, and so many other rights that we can start to champion from the Council.