Metropolitan Police Department FY21 Budget Oversight Hearing

Good morning Council Member Allen, Chairman Mendelson, and other members of the Judiciary & Public Safety Committee. My name is Amanda Lindamood. I’ve been actively involved in the DC community for the last eleven years, working collaboratively in advocacy, crisis response, faith based and violence prevention roles. I worked at the DC Rape Crisis Center for close to seven years. During my tenure, I watched the white washing of nonprofits transform how we approached conversations about gendered violence, promoting further systems involvement for survivors and defunding community responses. I witnessed the extent of the institutionalized racism leading agency representatives to accept compromises in direct conflict with community assessments of their needs. I oversaw the training and operating of a 24-hour hotline, and trained community-based educators, advocates, clinical graduate students, staff and professionals in a myriad of fields that intersect with violence and trauma. I provided capacity building programming to K-12 schools in all 8 wards in which policing was a prominent presence in the school atmosphere and interactions with students.

I’ve observed law enforcement harassing and sexually harassing Black youth in their schools, on public transportation, and in their neighborhoods. I’ve witnessed white parents and administrators promote stereotypes about Black youth that have escalated to police involvement. I’ve been coached in working groups and conversations with supervisors to support racist policies that misrepresent the root causes of sexual and police violence. I’ve also witnessed white survivors’ needs and organizational perspectives be privileged in these Council hearing spaces, given more time to speak, and allowed to shape and influence legislation disproportionately. As a white survivor who has experienced sexual violence frequently as an adult, including multiple incidences in DC, I say very clearly that I do not consent for my experiences to be used to justify increasing MPD’s Budget. It has been shown explicitly that policing has not created safety, community trust, or adequate resourcing to address underlying gaps in housing, particularly in a city with more officers per capita than almost anywhere else in the country. MPD continues to serve with impunity, colluding with both an expansion of policing and surveillance, and a lack of accountability for systemic abuses of power.

It is our responsibility as those who believe and state that Black Lives Matter to prioritize passing a budget that allocates resources away from MPD, and into alternative approaches to community safety. It is our responsibility to listen to the Movement for Black Lives and to stand with their demands. It is our responsibility to imagine that community safety requires different investments, and to admit that policing continues to leave us unsafe and unaccountable to a pattern of structural racism and police violence. I support the following priorities for the 2021 DC Budget as a starting point. Maintaining and increasing funding for the Office of Neighborhood and Safety Engagement and violence interrupter programs. Reallocating funding from the MPD budget to pay for medical and mental health professionals and social workers to respond to emergency calls. Cutting funding for school resource officers and reallocating that funding to pay for mental health care and trauma-informed services in DC public schools, along with technological support for remote learning. Maintaining a permanent budget item for public housing repairs. Providing COVID-19 relief funding to all DC residents, including undocumented residents.

I ask that this Council pass a budget that divests in policing, and truly invests resources into community safety.

DC deserves that commitment from your leadership, and nothing less.

Writer. Thinker. Facilitator. Advocate. Invested in accountability for power based violence, creative initiatives, and meaningful, nuanced dialoguing.