Public Comment - June 8th, 2020

Volunteer to speak at the City Council Meeting on Monday June 8 at 5:30pm!

On Monday evening, the City Council will discuss a policy order asking that "the City Manager be and is hereby requested to report back to the Council on how some, or all, of the $4.1 million dollar increase in the Police Department budget between FY20 and FY21 may be redirected towards measures that promote public health and safety in other departments." We encourage you to give public comment on this issue!

Sign-up Instructions:

  1. Read the Policy Order here.
    Summary: The council is hearing public comments on reducing the police budget and reallocating that budget to other departments for public health and safety.

  2. Sign up to give public comment Monday, 6/8 at 5:30 here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/CityCouncil/PublicCommentSignUpForm

    1. Public comments will be given over Zoom. Use the same name to sign up and as your user name on Zoom

    2. Reference Policy Order #7 when signing up. (This is confusing- it is the 7th Policy Order on the agenda for the day)

    3. After signing up, you will receive a Zoom meeting link via email. Keep this email.

  3. Download and install Zoom so you are ready to go Monday evening: https://zoom.us/download

  4. On Monday, keep an eye on your email. The City Council may send out updated links close to the meeting time.

  5. Click the link to join the meeting. Keep your microphone muted until you are called to speak, and choose a quiet spot with few distractions if one is available to you.

  6. If you have a pre-written statement, submit your comments in writing at clerk@cambridgema.gov

  7. If you are unable to comment in person, you can also email the Council and City Manager to have your comments put on the record.

Talking Points:

  • State your name and your street address.

  • If this is your first time giving public comment, explain that this is your first time and why you are motivated to give comment now.

  • Consider the following topics and supporting arguments, and choose a few that are important to you:

    • Defunding/ Reducing Police

      • Bias and sensitivity training are shown to have very little effect

      • Cambridge Police do not need a $65 million dollar budget

      • Reducing the size of the Police department, and putting that toward preventative social services is the most effective way to reduce crime and violent police interactions

    • Demilitarization/ Disarming of the police

      • Cambridge accepts excess military equipment from the 1033 program

      • Vast majority of crimes committed in Cambridge do not require officers to have these types of weapons to do their jobs effectively

    • Prioritizing education, public health, and other social services over police.

      • The Police department has the highest allocation of the City budget after Education - above Fire, Public Works, Human Services, Cambridge Health Alliance, and Transportation. (source)

    • Reducing the scope of policing

      • Police are responsible for non-law-enforcement tasks

      • These tasks are better suited for other departments

      • Frame these extra duties as an unnecessary burden on officers/the dept.

    • Desire for Cambridge to be a progressive leader in Policing reduction

    • Inaction on the part of the Office of the City Manager to hold the Police Department accountable

  • Restate your high-level concern, the values that are important to you, and why this is important to you

    • The safety and dignity of Black communities in Cambridge is paramount

    • Racial inequalities cannot be helped by more policing

    • Cambridge must stop investing in targeted criminalization and surveillance, and fund what Black and Brown communities need to be safe and healthy

  • State your desire for action

  • Thank the council for the time to speak

General Tips:

Public comment is important. It says a lot to the City Council when a resident takes the time to show up. It means that people are paying attention and care. You are giving the City Councillors a sense of what is important to their residents, and you are putting pressure on the City Manager to take action.

You will only have two or three minutes, and short statements are effective. Err on the side of a shorter statement rather than a longer statement. You do not need to use all 3 minutes, and you should prepare what you are going to say ahead of time. It is OK to read a pre-written statement.

Details are not as important as sharing the values that you hold. It is OK to not have specific suggestions or deep knowledge of the budget. Showing up and speaking is the most important part.


Here is a model to follow:


  • “My name is <NAME>”

  • “I live at <address>"

  • “I have never given public comment before but this is very important to me so I am motivated to be here now”

  • “I want to see bold action, and I think that we should <drastically reduce police budget/disarm police/demilitarize police/etc>.” [see above for talking points]

  • “Thank you for the time to speak, this is very important to me and I will be paying attention to changes made.”

Careful!

  • Pay attention - if your name is called and you do not respond, you may be skipped!

  • Use the same name on Zoom as you did on the sign up form for less confusion

  • If you get “booted” from the call, dial back in!

  • DO NOT mention city Councillors or members of the public by name

  • Be respectful and focus on the issue. Do not give Councillors ANY reason to back out on support because of “respectability”of activists.

  • If you are white, be aware of optics and the time you are taking. Please show up to give high level support then yield time. Do not focus on yourself. Acknowledge that you are there as a white ally of the Black and Brown communities most affected by policing.

  • You may hear some people giving comments in support of School Resource Officers (SROs). Unfortunately, there is misinformation being spread that the City Council is trying to cut SROs. This is NOT true, and would be a school committee issue, not a city council issue.

    • Do not bring up this topic.

    • If the person before you mentions this topic, briefly state that this is not part of the policy order, and is not a city council issue.

    • Do not be distracted or fooled by this misinformation. Focus on the actual issue at hand.

Want to Get Involved? Join us!