Kent-based ForFortyTwo says the Kent City Council ignored demands to defund police by 50% and invest in Black-led and youth-led organizations when it adopted the 2021-2022 biennial budget.
“Through this budget, city council is pouring $92.4 million into the police, over 42% of the city general fund,” according to a Nov. 23 statement from ForFortyTwo, named for the 42 Kent public schools. “Further, they have invested $462,210 into an equity manager position, despite calls to reallocate that funding into participatory budgeting that is driven by BIPOC communities that have historically been left out of budgeting conversations. Despite months of community utilizing every available line of communication (calls, emails, public comments), the council ignored BIPOC youth demands to defund KPD by 50% and invest in Black-led and youth-led organizations.”
The council approved the budget Nov. 17. Several ForFortyTwo members spoke or submitted emails during the public comment period asking the council to defund police.
Council members Brenda Fincher and Satwinder Kaur each commented at the council meeting that they plan to meet with ForFortyTwo members to further discuss the issues.
“We represent a city that has different opinions, but one thing we strived to do was create a budget that was going to work for equity, and for all the people of Kent,” Fincher said. “To all the people that wrote or spoke, whether it was to thank us for a sports program or give us your opinion to defund or not to defund, thank you.”
ForFortyTwo wanted more to be done prior to budget approval.
“The budget was quickly passed without acknowledgement of our in-depth demands that were sent weeks in advance,” according to ForFortyTwo. “But rest assured, our fight is not yet over. We will continue to fight for the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities to be heard.”
The group, which formed after a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest march through downtown Kent in June following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, thanked people who have supported its demands.
“To the community members who have come to our actions, called and emailed city council, and spoke out during public comment at city council meetings: thank you, thank you, thank you,” according to the statement. “We have stayed true to our values and made our demands clear to our elected officials. It has taken all of us, coming together in our collective struggle and working together toward our collective liberation.”
ForFortyTwo, which organized a peaceful protest in August outside of City Hall and the Police Department to defund police and spend more money on BIPOC and youth programs, concluded its statement with one final message.
“To BIPOC youth who are from or live in the city of Kent: we got them scared now,” according to the statement. “The city government knows they can no longer ignore us in this city, or just use us for their token photo ops. We will continue to make noise, organize together and keep each other safe. We will invest our energy into building us, the BIPOC youth in this city, up. The council’s decision will not stop us from making true change in this city. We got this.”