The city of San Francisco will redirect $3.75 million from the city’s police budget to organizations supporting Black businesses and entrepreneurs, providing an example for the nation of what activists have meant when chanting “Defund the Police.” It’s not a “defunding” to shut down police departments, but rather a “redirection” of funds from law enforcement to other services or entities that can meet community needs.
San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed said in a Wednesday announcement that the funding would go to more than a dozen local organizations and come out of the city’s Dream Keeper Initiative, which was announced last year and will reinvest $120 million from law enforcement budgets into San Francisco’s Black community.
“Across this country, and in our City, we’ve seen how the Black community’s economic growth and prosperity has historically been disrupted and marginalized,” Breed said in a news release. “This funding is part [of] our efforts to undo the harm of generations of disinvestment and economic inequities.”
After the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd and related protests last summer — including a nationwide call to “defund the police” — Breed announced in June the city’s broader plan to redirect millions from law enforcement over the next two years to support Black communities.
The funding announced on Wednesday will go to 17 community organizations, including the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, SF Black Wall Street, Mercy Housing and Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates.
The funds are meant to help Black small businesses and entrepreneurs, including by providing legal support to small business tenants who suffered losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of displacement, as well as training and financial management and digital literacy support to entrepreneurs.
The broader $120 million initiative was funded with about $80 million over two years from the San Francisco Police Department, which has an annual budget of about $700 million, and an additional $40 million from the budget for the sheriff’s department, according to KQED.
Nationwide, the COVID-19 crisis disproportionately affected Black communities, not only in terms of Black people suffering higher rates of infection and death from the virus, but also in terms of job losses, evictions and other economic setbacks.
Earlier this year, Shamann Walton, a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors, called the city’s effort to redistribute funds from law enforcement to the Black community “a first step towards true reparations.”
-HuffPost Black Voices