‘When I hear Black Lives Matter, I want to focus on the lives.’ After policing, a host of other systems await reform

Deanna Pan, Boston Globe
June 25, 2020

As calls to defund police budgets reach a fever pitch, so too have demands to redirect public money into habitually disinvested communities of color. In Boston, activists have beseeched the city to reduce the $414 million a year police budget by 10 percent and invest those dollars into school and community initiatives, like youth jobs and violence prevention programs. Organizers, city councilors, and community advocates have criticized Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s proposal to reallocate 20 percent — about $12 million — of the police department’s ballooning overtime budget to a variety of social services as woefully inadequate.

“If you took the entire police budget, it wouldn’t be enough of an investment in terms of what we need,” said David Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School. He pointed to a detail from the 2017 Globe Spotlight series on race in Boston, which cited a jaw-dropping statistic: According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Duke University, and the New School, the median net worth for nonimmigrant Black households in the Greater Boston region is $8, compared with $247,500 for white families.

“That is the reality of life in Boston,” Harris added. “It speaks to the scale of what we face.”

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