As national (and global) movements call for a reckoning with the anti-Black violence of policing, a care-centered redistribution of funds that ordinarily get sucked up Law Enforcement Departments, and a reimagining of public safety itself — the city of Winston-Salem continues to dredge along the same path. The following is a transcript of comments made by local activist & Hate Out of Winston leader, Miranda Jones during the city council’s public comments on December 7th, 2020. Along with other local grassroots orgs (including Drum Majors), Hate Out is calling the city and its leadership to embrace a new path. As Hate Out Of Winston puts it, “WSPD does not need 78 million, the people do!”
“Good evening Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and city council. According to an August 2020 Forbes magazine article, “the notion of slashing and re-allocating police funds is far from universally popular. Just 34% of Americans have a favorable view of the movement, while 53% do not.” This is no surprise as most social justice movements, in this country, initially faced unparalleled amounts of rejection. We are clear that some of you have given lip service to social justice, particularly during this past summer of heightened racial unrest, while others have remained silent or have been downright caustic. For instance, Councilmember Annette Scippio, I read your resume and was impressed until I heard you speak and read your words.
In a Triad City Beat article from January 2020 when asked about housing you said, “There was a great energy because of employment.” Homes were well-maintained. People worked hard. We didn’t have idleness. That doesn’t exist now.” I discovered that your platform is one of denigrating, demoralizing, eviscerating and degrading poor Blacks. You seem to suggest that the root cause of those ills are because poor Blacks don’t want to work. At the Delta Arts Center, I heard you reference the so-called “good ole days” which included the manufacturing jobs at RJ Reynolds. Good for who? It certainly wasn’t for my great-great aunt or any of my grandfather who were not paid the same wages as white men. What’s more is those good ole days are gone. Have you considered that a portion of the 78 million dollars could be used for job training programs for people with varying levels of education so they can work in your glorious innovation quarter? Have you considered how this funding can be used in SOAR and YouthBuild?
Other larger cities have already taken the lead on reallocation. Cities like Austin and LA, San Francisco and Portland, and even Salt Lake City whose own mayor proposed reallocation. What’s stopping this city? Some of you, with the most diabolical levels of police encounters and poverty in your ward are silent, often quick to second an adjournment to end the meeting to shut us up.
In an article from May 2020, Mayor Joines said, Mrs. Parmon could be seen as a “neutral placeholder” until the election decided the result. She has done that but the Northeast Ward (which I grew up in) cannot afford for any city council representative to be neutral. Just like the East Ward, not all of the Northeast Ward lives in poverty but there is more than enough and we know that it’s better for those housed in black skin to be a position to where they don’t have to deal state sanctioned lynchings while we wait for claims that the cause of death was due to chronic disease. Imagine what it would look like if that were addressed by services offered through the city in partnership with the county and agencies with measurable outcomes. In the words of Councilmember Scippio, I ask are you being idle and irresponsible? Furthermore, isn’t it irresponsible of you to have never addressed Mayor Pro Tem’s call for reparations this past August, which was supposed to be addressed in either October or November. It’s December. Mayor Pro Tem said, “the time is right for Winston-Salem to move forward on reparations,” she further noted how none of the other city council members offered comments or questions when she brought up the matter in committee. I was dismayed to know that the other black councilmembers sat in silence. Who did you all allow to silence you?
She said, “it is a conversation about poverty and social justice, and no one wants to talk about it.” Your silence is so resoundingly loud in its insistence that defund won’t work, reparations won’t work, and reallocation won’t work! Mayor you said the city doesn’t have enough money for reparations. Well I guess not, you all have given the money to the police and developers. WSPD does not need 78 million dollars, the people do!”