People’s Budget Bako calls for the City to divest from police, invest into the community

May 10, 2021 /

People’s Budget Bakersfield called to divest from the Bakersfield Police Department at a press conference Wednesday evening before the Bakersfield City Council meeting. 

Faheemah Salahud-Din Floyd and Daulton Jones, a community organizer, led the press conference to discuss the needs of the community and where they would like to see funds go. 

“So many programs, so many things, so many places, so many people are underfunded and disinvested because they’re not white and because they don’t have privilege,” said Jones during the press conference.

People’s Budget Bakersfield, a grassroots coalition that fights for police accountability and reform, surveyed community members to see what they would like to see money invested in.  This led to what was referred to as the “Seven asks”: violence prevention outside of policing, youth development and education, public and mental health, city racial equity policies and plans, affordable housing and homeless services, black economic equity programs, and City reparations to black and indigenous communities.

From the time spent talking to, researching, and listening to the community’s needs, People’s Budget Bako has created a budget they’d want the city to implement. This budget has been crafted by the community for the community, the organizers say. 

“When you ignore this budget, you are ignoring all of these residents. You are telling them they do not matter because they are not white and privileged. They keep doing that year after year. This year will probably be no different,” said Salahud-Din Floyd explaining why their budget should be  implemented. “But the thing about it is we are committed to fighting for and striving for a community that values all people and not just a certain demographic of people.”

The People’s Budget Bako is committed to making sure the community is involved with decisions that concern them. 

“I just want the community to be safe, and I want the people in the community to feel like they have a say in what is going on here. How can you create a budget and not ask the community what they want and say it’s for their benefit? That’s ludacris,” said, Salahud- Din Floyd. 

During the city council meeting, the city proposed their budget for the fiscal year of 2021-2022. 

Despite People’s Budget Bako demands and recommendations, the proposed budget is calling for 42.53 percent of all general funds to be allocated into the Bakersfield Police Department. 

The proposed budget resources allocated to the police department will be $13.4 million or 11.2 percent more than the budget from last fiscal year.

According to the proposed budget, these funds will look to hire 28 new sworn police positions and 17 new civilian police positions. Last year’s budget allowed the department to fill 44 positions within BPD.

The break down of the general funds, if adopted, will be: 42.53 percent to police services; 16.29 percent to fire services; 8.62 percent to parks and recreation; 7.32 percent into transfers; 4.11 percent into development services; 3.27 percent to economic development; 2.52 percent to technology services; 1.85 percent to non-departmental; 1.17 percent to executive; 1.09 percent to financial services; .80 percent to human resources; and .76 percent to city attorney. 

Some attendees at the council meeting were there  in support of the People’s Budget Bako and spoke during the public comments to oppose this budget. 

 “You’re gonna give the police so much more money, and they’re directly going to give black people more trauma. None of you are gonna have to deal with that,” said Jones, explaining why part of the budget should be giving black and indigenous people reparations. 

Jones is in favor of reparations because black and indigenous people experience trauma as a result of people in power, according to Jones. They deserve to be repaid for what they went through, according to Jones. 

“Our community members are reaching out. Our community members are just waiting to tell you what they need… Instead of listening to us, we’re hiring researchers when really the experts are the people in the streets who are suffering,” said Emma De La Rosa, policy advocate for the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability.

Featured photo: Daulton Jones spoke at the Bakersfield City Council meeting in June 2020, addressing the City budget, which increased the Bakersfield Police Department budget about 10 percent allowing the department to add 44 new positions. In public comment that lasted about an hour, most of the speakers were in favor of defunding the police. Some asking that the vote to approve the $630 million budget should at least be delayed and time set aside to discuss the $119.9 million BPD portion of the budget. An overflow crowd gathered outside the chambers watching the meeting on a television screen. After discussion the Bakersfield City Council, without opposition, approved the $630 million budget for 2020-21.
Photos by Henry A. Barrios for Kern Sol News.

JaNell Gore

Ja'Nell Gore is a student at Cal State Bakersfield. In addition to writing for Kern Sol News she is a poet who loves any chance she has to perform and be with her community.