This is a copy of the letter I sent to Halifax council, the mayor, and the police board of commissioners asking them to defund the police. Please do the same. This was a hard letter to write, so use my words if it makes it easier.
Dear Halifax Regional Council and the Police Board of Commissioners,
I’m writing to ask you to defund the police in Halifax. What we have doesn’t work. Our police department is a racist institution because it was founded by a racist society with racist ideals. We’ve had report after report showing that, and any attempts to fix the department have failed. Stop trying to fix it and start trying to replace it. Take their budget and put it into that which will help the community. Education. Mental health resources. Social workers. Addiction treatment. Equitable transportation. Affordable housing. The list is longer than that, and it’s all better than weapons, courts, and jails.
I don’t know how we get there, but start finding options now. Ask for staff reports. Look at existing reports from places that have done it. Look at research on harm reduction. Look at research on decriminalization. This isn’t a new concept—the answers are there, they’re just waiting to be implemented.
This doesn’t mean an anarchic society without rules, or no way to protect us from those who can’t be rehabilitated. It means using our resources for caring and prevention wherever possible instead of punishment.
I’m white and I’m scared of the police. I’m middle-aged, a home owner, the type of person the police protect. I make enough money that I assume I could afford a lawyer to defend myself (but am privileged enough to not have any idea how much lawyers cost).
When I see cops breaking the law, I’m afraid to confront or report them because I know how much power they wield. How they can use selective enforcement to harass those they don’t like. How they can ruin someone’s day arbitrarily, or their entire life. I see how our police department is unable to hold accountable the members who abuse their power. Increasing accountability isn’t enough. No one should have that power, because no one is capable of wielding it responsibly.
I’m white and I’m scared of the police. I can’t imagine how scary the police are to Black and Indigenous people who have never had the privilege I do. Who are the victims of the systemic racism that prevents them from gaining privilege. We need to stop using the police to protect my privilege, and start protecting those without. We need to defund the police.