Activists in Chicago are seeking to build a better city by proposing a plan they say would generate $12 billion in new taxes and savings after slashing the police budget for investment in black and brown communities.
The People’s Unity Platform in conjunction with the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) have argued the crime destroying Chicago’s communities is a symptom of larger issues that would be solved with their new $12 billion proposal.
“It is far easier to treat the symptoms and ignore the underlying issues,” the proposal’s introduction reads.
“The challenges Black and Brown communities in Chicago are facing today are a direct reflection of the immoral budgets that mayors and alderpeople have imposed on residents for decades,” the proposal continues. “These immoral budgets take from poor Black and Latine communities to give handouts to wealthy corporations and developers. Chicago has invested billions in a racist policing system that has not made communities safer.”
Crime “continue[s] to plague the city” despite 38% of Chicago’s budget going to the police force over the last decade, the groups argue. They contend that money should instead be invested into black and brown communities to fund after-school programs, mental health clinics and homeless shelters in order to reduce violence and crime.
Part of those cuts to the police budget would involve erasing two massive gang databases where, activists argue, 95% of those listed are people of color. “Being in the gang database has a devastating impact, making encounters with police more frequent, and often more violent,” Erase the Database argues. Being on the database further impacts access to education, employment, housing and immigration relief, Erase the Database contends.
In addition to slashing the police budget, the $12 billion proposal seeks to tax big businesses, institute a local wealth tax, institute a city income tax on high earners and add fees to any luxury apartment buildings that have units sitting vacant for more than 12 months. The proposal also calls for raising the jet fuel tax at O’Hare International Airport and for the establishment of a public bank to keep billions from going to Wall Street every year.
“We can pay for the People’s Unity Platform by adopting a moral budget that makes the wealthy and major corporations pay what they owe and stops spending billions in taxpayer dollars on cops and Wall Street. The $12 billion in new revenue and savings the measures in this report could help achieve are more than enough to bring true public safety to communities across Chicago,” the proposal concludes.