See below for leader testimony on the proposed Baltimore City FY23 budget. Rabbi Ruth Smith, a JUFJer and chaplain, wrote this testimony.
I am Rabbi Ruth Smith From Radnor/Winston in the 4th District. I’m a member of JUFJ speaking to amplify the demands of CJSJ and Organizing Black.
As a chaplain in a local hospital, I or one of my team members at least once each week, and on occasion, more than once in a day, do a death notification in which we tell a family that their loved one has been killed by a gunshot. I sit at the bedside with mothers watching the life drain from their sons. Last week I comforted a man grieving the death of the mother of his two young children whom he last saw lying motionless in a pool of her own blood. Our citizens are literally being killed in our streets. This is not a time for business as usual.
Our partners at Organizing Black and CJSJ are calling for a $100 million reallocation of funds from the Police Budget into community needs. This is a drop in the city bucket, but could buy opportunity and hope which is the only way out of the cycle of doom in which we find ourselves.
The social problems we face can’t be policed away. Policing is after the fact and this proposal strikes at the root causes of crime.
The Board of Estimates has the opportunity to reprioritize funding and stop the cycle of violence that is killing Black and Brown people in this city.
If white people were dying and asking for this money would the answer be different?
The community is advocating for their priorities. We should support them.
I urge you to vote no to the budget as it stands and to follow recommendations of CJSJ and Organizing Black to reprioritize 100 million dollars into community solutions.
The real question is why is there so much crime? I believe it is because of a lack of options and despair about the future.
Our young people need positive aspirations and optimistic expectations.