Grand Rapids groups pushing ballot measure to defund the police

Grand Rapids groups pushing ballot measure to defund the police

Petition circulators are asking residents to sign on to a ballot measure that would lead to public safety cuts in the city budget.

A coalition of special interest groups is looking to slash police funding in the city of Grand Rapids by circulating a ballot measure that would de-emphasize public safety spending.

Funds instead would be directed to other programs, such as “environmental sustainability.”

Currently, the Grand Rapids city charter requires police funding to be at least 32% of the city budget. But a coalition backed by the American Civil Liberties Union is looking to remove that budget floor – and dedicate at least 9.8% of the budget to other social programs.

The proposal uses a sleight of hand to avoid spelling out its goal of defunding the police. This is because the new 9.8% spending requirement on other priorities leaves no alternative but to slash law enforcement spending.

Simply put, if this ballot proposal were to pass, it would mean a reduced public safety presence in Grand Rapids neighborhoods.

The proposal reads:

A proposal to amend the City Charter of the City of Grand Rapids by amending Section 18 of Title V, to replace certain mandatory budget appropriations in subsection (f) and, instead, require the City to appropriate no less than 9.8% of the General Operating Fund for affordable housing, mental and physical health, environmental sustainability, police accountability, and economic growth of communities with disproportionately high gun violence, unemployment, and child poverty.

Voters can read the full proposal here.

Activists started gathering petition signatures in mid-June – and they are gaining signatures from voters who likely don’t know the full story.

Voters should be aware that the ballot question is more than meets the eye. And if they disagree with the true intention, decline to sign.

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