WE, THE PEOPLE, HAVE DEMANDS FOR OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

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We are Black, brown, and Indigenous students & community members, as well as other students & community members of color and supporters united for justice. We are people who have felt the weight of structural inequity & inequality in the Central Coast, which are rooted in colonial systems of white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, ableism, capitalism, and other forms of oppression, for a long time. We are also people who can no longer remain idle while others suffer in front of us.

We are writing this in the midst of a global uprising for Black lives, the latest upsurge in a struggle over 400 years in the making. All over the country, in these occupied Native lands now known as the United States, the people are rising up for a brighter future, for Black people and for all people affected by the violence of the carceral* system. And this summer has shown us one crucial fact: we can win.

We have seen victories from San Francisco to Oakland to Austin to Minneapolis this year in defunding police, removing police from schools, getting jails closed, and winning avowals of the intention to invest in affirming, life-giving futures: futures for Black people, Indigenous people, all people of color, and all people directly affected by the violence of the carceral state. But we know there is so much more to do. We know this fight is far from over.

We know that we are still fighting right here on the Central Coast. We all know that the fight to make sure #BlackLivesMatter here has gone on all summer. And we are all aware of the repression facing these young Black & brown folks at the hands of DA Dow and a cruel, colonial, racist state that wants revenge on them for threatening the status quo.

We refuse to accept any of it.

Abolitionist Action Central Coast / SLO, Students for Quality Education - Cal Poly, Cal Poly Black Student Union, The Central Coast Organization on Racial Injustice and all our supporters call upon DA Dan Dow, Mayor Heidi Harmon of SLO, City Manager Derek Johnson & the SLO City Council, and the SLO County Board of Supervisors to fulfill our concrete, specific demands (laid out here). We will NO LONGER accept justice denied. We will fight to protect each other and to bring a better world into existence until the fight is done. The people will have these charges dropped, the people will know a Central Coast divested from the carceral system that does so much harm to our communities, and the people will achieve the dream of a Central Coast that invests in our communities’ well-being rather than in cops, cages, and state control.

Remember also that the other context of this current moment is the increasing onslaughtof neoliberalism & privatization, and the defunding of programs supporting affordable housing, education, mental healthcare, & other public spending on the common good – all while policing & incarceration budgets go up and up and up and up and up. Furthermore, all this divestment from meaningful public spending on our communities is coming to its peak in the midst of a historic pandemic, in which we have seen the cruel, cruel nature of our system laid bare, and in which Black / brown / Native folks, low-income folks, and other marginalized people are suffering disproportionately. We need more support now, not less. But it has not come.

Rent has not been cancelled. People are having to work & be exposed to the virus to survive. The labor of folks who did not merit enough concern to be granted a living wage before, such as farmworkers, grocery workers, sanitation workers, and gig workers, is now deemed “essential” for our society to function, although these people are still without a living wage.

All this to increase the profits of a tiny, tiny sector of our society. All this to make more riches for the ones who have always benefited the most from this colonial white supremacist, cisheteropatriarchal, ableist, capitalist system, making our lives unlivable and building their obscene wealth off our backs. FUCK THAT. We will not have it.

If Black Lives Matter to you, they must matter in the struggles of the everyday as well as in the big moments. If you wish to have justice in our community, if you would have us begin to heal the wounds of structural & systemic oppression, if you believe marginalized people should be able to live our lives freely & fully, then you must care about structural & systemic oppression continuing every day right here on the Central Coast. We will be satisfied with a SLO City, SLO County, and Central Coast where Black people, Indigenous people, all people of color, and all marginalized people are able to thrive. We will accept nothing less.

We demand DA Dow drop the charges. We demand a universal housing guarantee. We demand rent, mortgage, & utility relief for all retroactive to April. We demand a 33% reduction in police / sheriff’s budget & headcount, and a rejection of all proposed increases to their budgets, size, and facilities. We demand decriminalization & freeing people from jails for public health.

If Black lives matter to you, then you will help fight for concrete structural & systemic change here with us this year. Take the actions laid out in this toolkit in the following pages. Tell your friends about our efforts and the need for our governments to grant all our demands.

And be ready to help us fight for these changes we so desperately need. The Central Coast must no longer value cops, cages, & the carceral state over people’s lives. The Central Coast must no longer refuse to provide its people with the pandemic support we need.

Show up for the people in this community who need you the most. We can win this together. But to win this we must be able to project the will of the people into the streets, in defiance of those who will try to stop us.

State repression is no joke. But we can prevail together. We can win. We will win.

Now we must make it happen. Direct action around concrete demands gets the goods.

Will you be ready when the time comes?


Footnotes:

*policing, incarceration, surveillance, coercion, and all forms of state control

WE DEMAND THE SLO CITY COUNCIL & THE SLO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ENACT THE FOLLOWING MEASURES:

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  1. Defund & Reduce Force Size

    • Reduce both the SLOPD & SLO Sheriff’s budgets and force sizes by 33% by the next fiscal year, and reject any proposed expansion to their budgets, personnel, and facilities. These cuts must include, but are not limited to, eliminating the downtown bike police unit, school resource officers, neighborhood outreach and educational services, all public relations and social media funding, and any proposed new police station or other facilities expansions & renovations.

      • The SLO city police department receives 27% of the city’s operating budget, and their funding has steadily increased each year, resulting in a total increase of $2.9M just in the past three fiscal years. Police don’t keep us safe; we must reduce their budget & shrink their place in our society in order to direct resources to measures that actually provide for community safety and well-being.
  2. Disarm Routine Patrol Officers

    • Develop and enact a plan to fully disarm routine patrol officers for SLOPD & the SLO Sheriff’s Department, starting with the downtown bike patrol.

      • The legacy of police violence stretches to the institution’s founding. The majority of routine patrol officers’ daily tasks do not require weapons (they spend most of their time writing traffic citations). These two facts lead to one conclusion: for the safety of the community, SLO must work to disarm its officers.
  3. Services, Not Sweeps

    • End houseless sweeps and provide bathrooms, showers, hand washing stations, laundry vouchers, dumpsters, vermin abatement, & cleaning supplies instead.

      • Involuntary houselessness exists as a result of deeply rooted systems like racial capitalism that cause poverty. Sweeps of houseless encampments do nothing for the community; instead they waste resources on the harassment of our community members and do nothing to solve the problem. For the safety and well-being of all its people, SLO must invest its resources into easing the burdens of people experiencing houselessness, not adding to them.
  4. Decriminalize Survival

    • Decriminalize sex & drug work and public order & all houselessness-related offenses.

      • Policing, arresting, and fining community members for trying to survive does not create peace. These ordinances do nothing to address the systems that result in that person struggling to survive; on the contrary, they perpetuate inequality by requiring police to harass, fine, and issue citations to already-struggling community members. This directly exacerbates the struggles of these community members and, in turn, our community as a whole.
  5. Zero Tolerance for Officer Misconduct

    • Fire officers & sheriff’s deputies with certain substantiated misconduct complaints against them, including but not limited to complaints for excessive force & sexual violence, and do not replace them. End the policy of providing paid leave for officers & sheriff’s deputies under investigation.

      • Police officers do not protect public safety and yet they are given an immense amount of power, influence, and immunity. Officers who abuse this power must be terminated immediately for the safety of the people, and the force must be reduced. Furthermore, those with a badge who impede justice do not deserve to enjoy paid vacations while under investigation, especially while those who were harmed continue to struggle to make ends meet.
  6. Care, Not Cops

    • End police contracts with and police presence in nonprofits & social services, care services, shelters, hospitals, schools, colleges, and government agencies providing care.

      • Again, police don’t provide for public safety or well-being. Police should never have been tasked with responding to mental health crises or other situations that require specialized care.
  1. Rent / Mortgage / Utility Relief

    • Provide rent, mortgage, and utility relief for all, retroactive to April.

      • With so many out of work, it makes no sense to punish people for being unable to make payments due to events that they cannot control. We must provide relief from these debts and move forward towards rebuilding our community.
  2. No Evictions

    • Institute a freeze on evictions city- & county-wide for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic & fallout.

      • Due to the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis from it, many people — particularly those who cannot work from home — have been unable to provide for themselves and their families. Unless we want a cascading crisis of houselessness and suffering in our city, we must put a moratorium on evictions, and allow people the time and space to acquire new jobs and skills.
  3. Healthcare Equity

    • Provide free counseling, drug & alcohol treatment, and other critical healthcare for Black People, Indigenous people, and all people of color at city & county expense for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic & fallout.

      • BIPoC have faced the largest share of risk and danger since the start of the pandemic, with people putting their lives and the lives of their families on the line just to make ends meet. We believe that those who face the greatest amount of danger inherently deserve treatment and healthcare during this crisis.
  4. Support For Essential Workers

    • Provide free testing, PPE, hazard pay, hotel rooms, and ongoing guaranteed paid sick leave & living wage (starting with $15 minimum wage) for all essential workers in SLO City & SLO County, including but not limited to grocery workers, sanitation workers, farmworkers, and gig workers, such as Uber & Lyft drivers, DoorDash drivers, and InstaCart shoppers.

      • If we have learned anything from this pandemic, it is that essential workers are truly the backbone of our society. However, they also bear the bulk of the risk & danger in providing the services and goods that our society needs to function. Therefore, they deserve the means to reduce their risk of catching & subsequently spreading coronavirus, a guarantee of dignity in work including paid time off, and a living wage.
  1. Universal Housing Guarantee

    • Implement a universal housing guarantee in SLO City & SLO County via providing empty hotel rooms to people who need housing, the use of eminent domain to convert empty housing to publicly-provided housing, and robust building of new public housing projects.

      • SLO recognizes housing as one of our county’s most pressing issues, yet dedicates less than $1 million of its $151 M operating budget to housing measures. Having shelter is paramount for survival. SLO must recognize the violence of barring community members from safe and secure shelter, particularly during a deadly pandemic & in a city in which housing and rental prices are astronomically high, and SLO must recognize housing as a human right.
  2. Free Transportation For All

    • Provide free transportation for all in SLO city & SLO County.

      • In SLO county, access to jobs, services, & education is still largely structured around the automobile, a good that many cannot afford nor maintain. Free public transportation will enable all SLO residents to get to work, to better themselves via access to libraries & other educational services, and allow people to improve both their own lives & the life of the county as a whole.
  3. Free Internet For All

    • Provide free internet access for all in SLO city & SLO County, starting with households with children attending school in grades K-12.

      • Internet access is vital in order to get and maintain a job, receive an education, and access healthcare. In short, access to the internet is necessary for survival. These fundamental realities have been made starkly clear by the current pandemic. SLO must treat internet access a necessity rather than a luxury and ensure all community members have free, quality access.
  4. Educational Equity

    • Establish a college fund for low-income Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color in the area, particularly for the children of farmworkers.

      • Access to education must be recognized as a human right, especially in a society that predicates economic mobility on having a bachelor’s degree. In San Luis Obispo, access to higher education is observably split along racial and class-based lines. Establishing a fund that recognizes and directly addresses this split is vital to achieving real justice.
  5. Wealth Tax

    • And pay for these measures via a wealth tax!

      • For far too long, income & wealth have been concentrated in the hands of a few, to the detriment of the rest of us. SLO must pay for the investment in our communities we so desperately need by ensuring that the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share.
  1. Drop The Charges

    • Drop all charges related to the summer 2020 protests in the SLO area, including those brought against Tianna Arata and Elias Bautista.

      • The current uprising is a necessary reaction to centuries of systematic oppression, violence, and dehumanization. SLO must not spend its resources repressing those who are fighting for a brighter future.
  2. Free Them All For Public Health

    • Release all the people incarcerated in the jail for the sake of public health, starting with the elderly, youth, pregnant people, infirm people, immuno-compromised people, and those held on parole or probation violations and infractions or non-serious misdemeanors.

      • During a pandemic, any jail sentence is a potential death sentence. SLO must protect the lives of all its community members, including those who are incarcerated. Allowing continued incarceration risks the lives of all incarcerated people, staff members at the jail, and the community as a whole. SLO must prioritize lives over punishment.
  3. End Pre-Trial Detention

    • End pre-trial detention during the COVID-19 pandemic & fallout for the sake of public health.

      • Continuing pre-trial detention during the pandemic risks spreading a deadly virus within and outside of the community. SLO must prevent this possibility & protect its community by ending pre-trial detention.

Take action to win structural change!

Go to our action toolkit