Defund police to rebuild community programs

After the violent murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests all over, America has been forced to re-evaluate our relationship with racism and the police.

Just because we are a smaller, rural community does not mean we can ignore systemic racism or the growing Black Lives Matter movement. We must remain vigilant and critical of the racism in our community.

This vigilance has taken the form of peaceful protests downtown, signing petitions to take down the Christopher Columbus statue, learning about the Nazi symbolism that is protected by the Walla Walla Police Department, or reaching out to our local government.

But we can do more. The Walla Walla Police Department received an almost 410 million budget, while no other programs and resources come even close to receiving that much funding.

What would it look like if some or all of that money was reallocated to other programs in our community? What if we could increase funding for the Homeless Initiative or the Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Program to help those with housing insecurity?

What if we could provide more first aid training for folks to use in their neighborhoods when needed? What if we could teach self defense to those in need?

Right now none of this can be done with the WWPD eating up $10 million a year, and the police budget has only been growing. Data shows that reforms do not work, many have been tried over and over across the country, but they have proven to be either ineffectual, have become weaponized against Black and Brown people, or are eventually undermined by the police institutions.

To start supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in Walla Walla we need to defund and abolish the police systems as a whole, and rebuild with more expansive, effective and supportive community programs and resources. This process takes time and the work cannot be done overnight.

I have written to the Walla Walla City Council and will continue to advocate for a 10% cut in the WWPD’s 2021 budget, and for this money to go towards funding better community resources in Walla Walla.

I hope to build a town where we can support each other and BIPOC do not live in fear of the police.

Rachel Prull

Walla Walla