Sign Up to Comment at City Council (SIGN UP TODAY)
Restorative Justice Coalition is part of a dynamic group of organizations known as the People's Safety Coalition. This group includes Tampa Dream Defenders, Black Collective Movement, Tampa Bay Activist Network, and Florida Immigrant Coalition, among others. It may feel like we have lost, because the City Council did not rule favorably for our cause when it came to the budget. The reality is, the fight just begins.
On October 15th at 9:00am, City Council will be hearing on many important topics. We need you to leave a public comment, which you can do by leaving a voicemail, or you can register for a spot to speak at the hearing. More information on how to sign up and scripting is below.
- City Council will be hearing about a staff report based on Tampa Police Department's findings in their research on a mental health response program. Remember, we demanded this to happen, but we wanted an independent program not connected to TPD, like CAHOOTS. We need to make sure the City understands this is still the people's demand!
- We need to demand City Council reject a $120,000 federal grant known as the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant. This program funds weapons, and drones, only increasing police violence, and is the opposite of what the people are calling for.
- We, the people, pushed the City to create a charter ordinance demanding that the City conduct implicit bias training, anti-discrimination training, and anti-harassment training to ALL City employees on the basis of race, religion, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, pregnancy, and many other categories. On October 15th, the City will hear the ordinance designed to enforce it. We are happy the City heard our concern about internal training, and have called for an outside organization to step in, but we need to emphasize this training needs to Black and brown led diversity training. We also have to question the number of hours they are writing into this training. The charter amendment WE voted for clearly says it must be comprehensive training on ALL those subjects. This is what we the people voted for in 2019. Despite this, the ordinance only calls for 4 hours for regular employees and 11 hours for the police. We need to ask them how they expect to fulfill the charter amendments requirement to be comprehensive on ALL those identities and cultures within 4 hours, and 11 hours. That doesn't sound comprehensive at all!
The meeting is Thursday, October 15th at 9:00am and it will be conducted virtually.
In order for your public comment to be heard, you need to sign-up TODAY! You have two options: you can leave a voicemail to be played over the track, or if you can (preferred), you can speak live at the event. Instructions, and sample scripting, are provided below.
Complete the form at https://www.tampagov.net/PublicComment AND state on the form under Request Type that you wish to speak live during the public comment period. You will then be contacted with additional instructions for remote live participation. MAKE SURE YOU REQUEST THE 9AM REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING.
Voicemail message with your comments by calling 813-274-8877 (Please follow the prompts when you call.) MAKE SURE YOU REQUEST THE 9AM REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING.
Sample Message/Comment (3 Mins is Your Maximum): "My name is -- and I live in (area of Tampa). I am commenting on for the October 15th 9am council meeting. City Council, with all due respect, I am deeply concerned with how none of you heard the calls of the 100s of residents demanding a reallocation of the budget into the community's needs. Although I am losing faith in you, I am hopeful you will do right today. You should reject the Edward Byrnes Grant this year, and every year forward. You told us that you could not reallocate funds to the community because you were worried about salaries and pensions. With that said, there is no excuse for accepting grants to further militarize an already violent police force. Use of force against us, the people, and especially Black residents of Tampa and the houseless, has increased by 24% since Chief Dugan stepped in, and therefore, we should not reward them with more weapons. We the people called for a crisis response team that is autonomous and independent from the police to respond to non-criminal crisis situations, similar to CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon. We have heard many of you support a co-response situation with TPD, and simply put, since TPD has lost the trust of the people, it makes no sense to create a program that is part of or works that closely with TPD. CAHOOTS in Eugene is able to respond to 98% of their situations without relying on the violence that police bring. Finally, I am concerned you are not making your best effort to honor the anti-bias charter amendment we the people drafted, and voted for. We clearly demanded a comprehensive program, and your ordinance only offers 4 hours for regular employees, and 11 hours of training for TPD. How can you genuinely fit comprehensive anti-discrimination, implicit bias, and anti-discrimination training for race, religion, gender and gender identity, religion, orientation, disability, age, and many other identities within the confines of 4 hours or 11 hours? These topics are too important to truncate, and you can figure out scheduling by being strategic and breaking the classes up throughout the year. I'm glad you heard our concerns about hiring an outside organization to conduct this training. It should not be an organization like USF, instead, it should be a Black and brown led D&I training program, that actually understands marginalization and oppression in real-time. Council, you let your citizens down in September, please do not let us down again. Thank you!"
(Suggested allocations are based on the survey results Bit.ly/TampaBudget with a priority on Black respondents, but all voices were collected.)