Last summer, the Restorative Justice Coalition co-founded The People's Safety Coalition along with several other organizations and worked diligently in the community, including surveying, and engaging community members. What we learned: the people of Tampa want to defund the police & refund the community.

Our demand was simple: move $30 million out of the TPD budget and place it into community needs. Housing, health care, jobs, Black business support, pandemic relief.

Instead? Our City Council unanimously voted to increase the TPD budget by an additional $13 million.

Although Councilmember Dingfelder did motion to put $1 million into a mental health program, that still was not enough. The program they elected was a co-response model, which is not what we called for. We wanted an autonomous, independent program like CAHOOTS.

So, what is happening now?

On Thursday, March 18th, the City Council will be presented with a line item to approve over $6 million to begin the demolition of the current Tampa Police Department. The plan? To move the headquarters into historic Black East Tampa and invest $100 Million into a City Center, which will include other government structures as well. From the article:

"The new public safety center would also house Tampa’s Office of Emergency Management.

Next door, at 2515 E. Hanna, the City of Tampa is looking to demolish an empty warehouse and build a “City Center” that would house several departments including Code Enforcement, Economic Development, Minority Business Development, Construction Services, and Workforce Development.

Ruggiero says the proposal would put 500 city workers in East Tampa, creating an economic boom for the area."

Why do we oppose this?

500 jobs is not nearly enough to justify $100 Million. According to the census bureau, 19% of the City's population are at or below the federal poverty line. During this pandemic, several businesses are suffering and the working class is taking the brunt of the hit.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the cost of housing for a 2 adult/2 child family in Tampa would equal to just above $12,000 annually. We could pay for housing of nearly 8,000 Tampans with $100 million. We could provide COVID relief to 1000s of small businesses, instead, they are wasting it on this program. We cannot stand by and allow this to happen!