A new report released by Freedom to Thrive Oak Park and Local Progress highlights the need to reimagine budgeting in Oak Park amid the coronavirus crisis.
The report showed that the village allocated 39.6% of its general fund expenditures to the police department while only five percent was dedicated to social services — including affordable housing, health services, and youth development programs.
“We can no longer pretend that overspending on policing at the expense of vital social services is acceptable. The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that we need to invest in housing, healthcare, and vital social services — but our current budget doesn’t lend itself to those priorities,” said Arti Walker-Peddakotla, Oak Park Village Trustee and organizer with Freedom to Thrive Oak Park. “We will not be able to see this pandemic through if we don’t re-prioritize and fund the basic necessities people need to thrive. Never has the argument been stronger for the need to divest from punitive and carceral infrastructure and invest in the social and economic needs of our community than in this moment.“
The report also indicates that Oak Park’s policing policies reflect mixed results: some policies are strong—notably its protections against law enforcement being co-opted for immigration enforcement—while others could be significantly strengthened.
About the Authors
Freedom to Thrive Oak Park is a group of community organizers working to re-imagine community safety in Oak Park, IL.
Local Progress is a movement of local elected officials advancing a racial and economic justice agenda through all levels of local government. We are elected leaders who build power with underrepresented communities, share bold ideas and policy among our network, and fight to reshape what is possible in our localities all across the country.