The Nashville People’s Budget Coalition organized a block party pushing to defund the police and put more money into social services, in the final event of a protest-packed weekend in downtown Nashville.
Thousands of people attended earlier demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism. It’s the city’s third consecutive weekend of protest after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.
Activists with the Nashville People’s Budget Coalition have been working overtime to educate the community about the city’s upcoming budget vote. The organization’s policy demands dominated a recent council meeting, with almost 200 residents speaking during the public hearings.
But Sunday’s ‘Defend Black Lives Block Party’ was also focused on honoring and celebrating black joy.
A boarded-up courthouse was the backdrop of the gathering, where people danced and shared their hopes for the city’s future. For many at the event, that includes a significantly reshaped police department.
“I was trained in the nonprofit world, right?” organizer Jamel Campbell-Gooch says. “And the thing we are constantly being told is do your job so well that you’re not needed anymore, and I think we need to think about that when we think about police.”
“Reforming” the police department, “is not the way to go,” organizer Gicola Lane says. “We need to invest in our communities that have been historically defunded, historically neglected. We want to invest in us because we know that when communities are thriving and healthy, there’s less crime to begin with.”
Councilmember Bob Mendes has proposed a budget which could keep the police department’s funding the same while directing more money to education.
Nashville councilmembers are expected to vote on the city’s budget Tuesday.