Skip to content

A six year defunding of the GRPD plan: First Divestment, then Investment as reparations for the historical harm done by policing in Grand Rapids

May 10, 2022

The City of Grand Rapids has already presented a Budget proposal for 2023, submitted to the Commissioners by the City Manager. The City Commission is meeting this morning (Tuesday) in a Budget Workshop session, and then again at 1pm. 

There is a 2023 Budget Hearing scheduled for May 17 at 7pm, which is the only public meeting that has been set aside for public input. At the May 24th, Committee of the Whole meeting the Commissioners will then deliberate on the Budget, then adopt the budget later that night, based on the existing schedule.

Based on how the City of Grand Rapids has dealt with the annual budget process, it is safe to assume that they have already adopted the 2023 Budget, despite the window dressing known as a public hearing. When City Manager Mark Washington sent out a press release on May 3, with his 2023 Budget proposal, I believe that he knew then that his proposal would be adopted (with maybe minor tweaks), regardless of whatever comments or input the public provides. This is the kind of political system we have in Grand Rapids, where a handful of City officials get to make decisions that will impact the rest of us, without any real regard for what hopes and aspiration we might have, particularly as it relates to the substantial community desire to defund the GRPD.

Using Radical Imagination for the Abolition of the GRPD

Now, no one is expecting that the GRPD will go away tomorrow or anytime soon. However, if we want to see the GRPD, a known institution of oppression, to be dismantled, then we need some kind of a proposal/plan to make that become a reality. What I am proposing is just an idea, it is not the only idea and it may not even be the right idea. However, we have to begin with an idea to start down the path of actually working towards the abolition of the GRPD.

I am proposing a 6-year defunding plan of the GRPD, where 10% of the current GRPD budget would be defunded and diverted to the African American community to do whatever they decide to do.

The current GRPD Budget, which also includes some grant funded projects is roughly $60 Million annually. This would mean that in year one, the GRPD would be defunded by $10 Million, $20 Million in year two, $30 Million in year three, $40 Million in year four, $50 Million in year five, and $60 million in year six.

We could thus phase out the GRPD within six years, thus acknowledging that such an institution could not be dismantled over night. 

At the same time, $10 Million would be given to the Black community in year one, $20 Million in year two, $30 Million in year three, $40 Million in year four, $50 Million in year five and $60 Million in year six. This would mean that the Black community would receive $210 Million in total over a six year period. 

Imagine what kind of an impact that $210 Million would have over those six years. According to the most recent census data, about 18% of Grand Rapids identifies as African American out of roughly 200,000 people. This would mean that about 36,000 Grand Rapidians are African American. Considering these numbers, think about how $210 Million over a six year period could contribute to things such as:

  • Housing costs – both home ownership and rent
  • Health care costs, including preventive care
  • Educational scholarships
  • Food security
  • Transportation costs
  • Business start up costs

These are just some of the ways that divesting from the GRPD and investing in the Black community could radically alter the lived experience of the very community that has disproportionately been affected by policing in Grand Rapids.

Lastly, the $60 Million annual GRPD Budget cost would not have to end after the 6 year plan. In fact, the $60 Million annually, after the first six years, could be used in other ways or they could continue to be directed towards the Black community or the BIPOC communities in general, as a form of reparations for the historical exploitation, police abuse, drug war, land theft, etc. that BIPOC communities have experienced since the founding of Grand Rapids. We all can radically imagine how things would be different if such a plan were enacted. 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: