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The Kept Promises Campaign

Updated: Nov 21



Being accountable to ourselves and our communities.


In the summer of 2020, many of us took our rage to the streets to protest ongoing police violence and the killing of George Floyd. We were firm in our convictions that what passes for public safety in this country is not only immoral but a betrayal of our shared sense of what it means to be human. We committed ourselves to naming and dismantling white supremacy in all of its forms. Now, more than two years on, in liberal/progressive Madison, we must ask ourselves, What has changed?


In the absence of collective urgency and pressure, the system has not transformed itself. Madison is not, and never has been, a progressive exception to the public health disaster of policing and incarceration. As report after report shows, Madison continues to create some of the worst racial disparities in policing and incarceration in the country. As a community, we must begin to deliver on the promises that many of us made with such clarity two years ago and we must forcefully reject time-worn narratives from elected officials about why real change cannot be made.


Kept Promises seeks to reignite belief in our ability to transform the world by taking local, collective action and exerting pressure on the 2023 city budget. We’re first asking this community to write one to four emails to Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway during the week of September 26 as she finalizes her operating budget for the City of Madison.


Will you join our campaign and write to the mayor?

[mayor@cityofmadison.com]



THE FOUR EMAILS


1. Redirect the $2.5 million budget increase requested by Madison police to CARES, the alternative response to emergency services.


This program, which helps prevent people who are experiencing mental health crises from being put in jail, receives about $750,000 out of a total city operating budget of more than $350 million.


While the police department is granted a budget of more than $84 million, CARES – a critical and potentially transformative intervention – is currently operated on a very small scale. Write the mayor [mayor@cityofmadison.com] to let her know that you think we can and should shift significant amounts of funding from policing to programs that prevent police contact and deliver help and safety to some of our most vulnerable community members.


For your convenience, a sample email can be found here.



2. Increase investment in the preventive and proactive measures found in Public Health Madison & Dane County’s Roadmap to Reducing Violence.


The Roadmap to Reducing Violence is promising in that it shifts city dollars toward the programs that can create opportunities for children, youth, and families and which reduce violence in our communities. But why such a tentative effort? Why in 2022 did the city invest less than 0.3% of the total operating budget in initiatives tied to something as popular and critical as reducing violence? Write to the mayor [mayor@cityofmadison.com] to let her know that you’d like to see the city significantly scale up its funding of programs that promote genuine well-being and public safety in Madison.


For your convenience, a sample email can be found here.



3. Invest in community-based organizations that work directly within communities impacted by violence and which support BIPOC youth and young adults.


When Freedom Inc launched their Madison People’s Budget project, they met with more than 1,500 people (primarily Black, Southeast Asian, and other POC) to ask them what they thought were the most crucial investments the city could make in their communities.


When Freedom Inc published the results of that work last summer, their report read: “Focus group participants…noted that for our youth, there are very few safe places for congregation in Black neighborhoods. Clean parks, recreation centers, and care facilities need to be built in these areas so that our children and teenagers have safe, reliable places to go while their families work.”


Write to the mayor [mayor@cityofmadison.com] to tell her that real safety begins with the love and care of our youth. Youth need our clear-eyed and open-hearted investment, not the ongoing harm of being policed.

For your convenience, a sample email can be found here.



4. We are ready to turn away from policing as the fallback solution to community issues. We oppose increases in the police budget, increases in force numbers, and initiatives that increase police contact with BIPOC youth and communities.


When Freedom Inc launched their Madison People’s Budget project, they met with more than 1,500 people (primarily Black, Southeast Asian, and other POC) to ask them what they thought were the most crucial investments the city could make in their communities.


When Freedom Inc published the results of that work last summer, their conclusion read, in part: “We need grocery stores, parks, community centers, street lights, bus stops, and affordable housing; we do not need more police, we do not need differently trained police, and we do not need community outreach from police.”


Write to the mayor [mayor@cityofmadison.com] to let her know that committing new funds to additional policing does not reflect your values and your vision for this community.


For your convenience, a sample email can be found here.




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