The city council took up the annual police budget right as protesters nationally, and in Baltimore, were calling for less funding for police. Something like nine of the fifteen members of the city council are Black, but it was a white council member who proposed an amendment during the budget hearing to completely defund BPD’s Drug Enforcement Section. His amendment failed six-to-nine, ironically with the council member representing the city’s whitest district by population voting for it, and the council member representing the city’s Blackest district joining the majority to vote the amendment down. My sense is that it got voted down because the people in the community who vote early—the little old ladies—you know, they want police to take action.
MAYA PENDLETON, 27
I see this division within my own family. It’s complicated. On one end of it, a big, big part of it is that Black people see significant amounts of violence in their lives, whether that is state violence, whether that is the violence of poverty and all that comes with that. A Black community might say, “Our communities are hurting, we need help.” But the only demand that has really been listened to was like, “Okay, more police,” right? But there were all these other social factors that people were like, “No, we need this… we need jobs, you know, we need working wages, we need substance-use help,” we need all of these things.
So I think that we’ve really been told—and when I say we, I’m saying people who live in this country generally—that the police are here to protect us. And Black people aren’t immune to that. And so, I think that sometimes people are asking for protection, but we have been sold the idea that protection is synonymous with the police.