As police escalate peaceful protests into dangerous, violent situations, people across the country are demanding that the police forces in their cities be defunded—not reformed, but denied the millions—in some cities billions—of dollars they receive each year from taxpayers. One way to make your own elected officials hear your demands is via email, and a new email template tool makes it easier than ever to hit send on a message to dozens of your councilmembers at once.
Defund12.org, created by software engineer Teddy Wilson, includes links for mass emails to councilmembers and mayors in five cities: Orlando, Boston, New York City, as well as Asheville and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There’s a growing number of requests for more cities on Wilson’s Github repository for the project, including Philadelphia and Richmond, Virginia.
The NYC link opens your default mail client (on your phone or desktop) and an email addressed to 47 New York councilmembers’ offices, with a template message including slots to insert your own name and borough.
“I am emailing today to demand that you vote no on the Mayor’s FY21 proposed budget,” the message says. “Furthermore, I urge you to pressure the office of the mayor towards an ethical and equal reallocation of the NYC expense budget, away from NYPD and towards social services and education programs, effective at the beginning of FY21, July 1, 2020.”
In New York City, Bill de Blasio’s proposed budget calls for deep cuts to the sanitation department’s e-waste and community composting subsidy programs and funding for its Summer Youth Employment Program, Vision Zero program, tree pruning and tree stump removal efforts, and educational district-charter partnerships program, among other social service programs.
He’s using the COVID-19 crisis to justify these cuts. Meanwhile, the New York Police Department’s current budget of $6 billion would see a cut of $23.8 million, or 0.39 percent. The office of the mayor’s website makes it sound like this budget is set in stone, but it’s not. Councilmembers are set to vote on it later this month.
Emails can feel less effective than phone calls or in-person lobbying, but they work. Brooklyn Councilmember Justin Brennan posted a video of his own inbox on Twitter, scrolling through page after page of emails demanding the same thing: Defund the police.
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer announced Thursday that he’s calling on the city to cut $1 billion in NYPD spending over the next four years:
Other NYC councilmembers have been publicly supportive of police budget cuts, including Brad Lander:
If you want to make your own email template for your city’s elected officials, Wilson also created a how-to page on making mailto redirects. The directions use product designer Michael McKeever’s mailtolink.me template creator in conjunction with tinyurl to create a simple email template for your own electeds.