Testimony to Defund the Police in Somerville

Police in Valencia Spain by Luther Bottrill
Police in Valencia Spain by Luther Bottrill

Good Evening, my name is ███████ I am a 10 year resident of Ward █ in Somerville.

The first steps to address the problem of systemic racism in Somerville is two-fold:

  • Defund the police by at least 60% or more; and
  • Hold the Mayor accountable to direct these funds to non-disciplinary social programs; and stop internal line-item transfers to the SPD.

The weapons and practices we use abroad always manage to find their way home. We’re seeing some of the torture and humiliations that occurred in Abu Ghraib here at home in ICE detention centers and local police stations as evidenced by the deaths of Sandra Bland and so many others.

Under to 1033 Program, military surplus such as guns, night-vision googles, surveillance equipment, teargas, drones, LRAD, and kevlar body armor all of which has been tested abroad is now sold or even given to our local police forces. This militarization has lead to the increase of police violence nationally, spanning a long history from the Watts Rebellion to Rodney King, the Kneel Movement and most recently with #BlackLivesMatter. This is yet another example of the cycle of racist imperialism coming home.

Dr. Casey Delehanty and colleagues at Gardner-Webb University found1 that districts that received the maximum 1033 transfers are twice as likely to have police killings compared to districts that receive none.

There is little evidence that such militarization reduces crime, and considerable evidence that it both alienates communities and escalates police violence against their own population.

We’re also seeing the effects of imperialism on our soldiers coming home and finding the most relevant jobs in the police force, and yet their mandates are diametrically opposed. Many of these soldiers carry the mental scars of war, are being streamlined from the streets of Fallujah to the city blocks of the US with little mental heathcare or transitional training2.

It is therefore in the best interests of our community to demilitarize and defund the police, and in doing so, we work towards a more just society that applies to all members of our community.


  1. IN THE SHADOWS OF THE WAR ON TERROR: PERSISTENT POLICE BRUTALITY AND ABUSE OF PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THE UNITED STATES: A report prepared for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

  2. Coming Home to Roost: American Militarism, War Culture, and Police Brutality