We’ve Teamed up with Colin Kaepernick in LA to Challenge Law Enforcement Budgets

February 9, 2022

Billboard showing Colin Kaepernick in Los Angeles. Text reads: If US law enforcement were a country, it would have the third largest military budget on the planet at $205,000,000,000. Imagine if we invested in our communities instead.

As everybody’s eyes turn to Los Angeles and the “big game” on February 13, we’re teaming up with Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp (KYRC) on a campaign to transform public safety.

Just in time for LA’s moment in the worldwide media spotlight, we’re installing billboards all over the city that ask people to support investing in programs and services that address the root causes of harm and crime, instead of continuing to pour absurd amounts of money into ineffective and violent law enforcement.

The facts are clear: Spending more on policing and incarceration doesn’t keep us safe. We hope you’ll join us in supporting what does. Read on to learn more.

Billboard on the side of a truck in Los Angeles that reads: California spends over $100,000 per year to incarcerate someone. That's 4x more than they spend on educating someone in their public schools. Imagine the world we could build if we invested in our communities?

Police Spending vs. the Crime Rate

A study comparing police spending and the “crime rate” over the past 60 years, from 1960 to 2018, has revealed something profound: There’s no connection between the two. Spending more on policing doesn’t lower the crime rate, and spending less doesn’t increase it. Additionally, these crime rates don’t capture other forms of harm which remain unaddressed in communities.

The United States spends $205 billion a year on law enforcement ($123 billion on policing and $82 billion on incarceration)—more than the military budgets of North Korea, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and India combined. But all that money has had no discernible impact on crime or harm reduction—right now, for example, despite increasingly bloated police budgets, the murder rate is rising. Police don’t prevent crime—they respond to it.

Pouring tons of money into prisons and police budgets clearly isn’t keeping us safe or helping our communities thrive. Even worse, it’s perpetuating the criminalization of people of color and devastating Black and Brown communities. If we actually want to address the root causes of harm and crime and ensure that everyone in every neighborhood is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, we have to invest in community-strengthening programs and services like education, housing, healthcare, job training, and more.

Billboard in Los Angeles that reads: LA County spends $1 million for youth development and $1.7 BILLION for police. It's time to change our priorities.

How to Keep Our Communities Safe

Colin Kaepernick, activist, KYRC co-founder, former quarterback, not to mention the co-creator of our new Change the Whirled flavor, tells it like it is:

America’s approach to policing was never intended to keep us all safe. Overpolicing and mass incarceration actively threaten the safety, security, and health of Black and Brown people. When people have what they need to provide and care for themselves and their families, public safety is possible. For us all to truly be safe, we need to invest deeply in our own communities.

He’s right. Research backs it all up. Here are just a few examples of the impact these investments can have:

Billboard in Los Angeles that reads: Imagine if we invested in our communities?

Transforming Public Safety in LA and Beyond

All of this is why we’re partnering with KYRC to support groups that are providing essential programs and services in Los Angeles—a city that has already seen how investing in grassroots community-building organizations can bring about a significant drop in the murder rate.

Together we’ll be focusing on organizations dedicated to addressing food insecurity (Inglewood Community Table), homelessness (Homeless HealthCare Los Angeles and Hopes for Homeless), and mental and physical health (California Black Women’s Health Project), as well as those supporting education (Think Together), Black women (Black Women Lead), and ending the prison industrial complex (Critical Resistance).

These organizations and others like them work hard every day in Los Angeles and around the country to make our communities healthier and safer. We hope you’ll join us and Know Your Rights Camp in supporting their work.