Throughout this country, studies reveal the huge wealth gap between black and white communities. The average white family possesses 22 times the wealth of the average black family, and according to studies conducted by Institute for Policy Studies and the Corporation for Economic Development, it would take 228 years for the average black family to achieve equal economic status to the average white family.
St. Petersburg is no exception, with its glaring divide between the wealth of the booming downtown area and the poverty in the black community. This is based on the history of the city government’s long-standing policies of developing white businesses through systematically destroying any semblance of economic development for the black community, including the destruction of the Gas Plant district where over 100 black businesses once existed to the ongoing gentrification of the south side.
This is why we need an agenda centered around restoring the economic life of the black community through reparations and economic development.
- Turn over the Tropicana Field baseball stadium to the black community for genuine affordable housing and economic development.
- Hands off Jordan Park! Fund the rehabilitation of Jordan Park for its historic residents in the black community! Hire black contractors to participate in the rebuilding of Jordan Park.
- We want the establishment of a Black Community Control of Housing Board, which would be comprised of democratically elected residents who live in neighborhoods under the jurisdiction of the Housing Authority.
- Massive infusion of capital into existing and new black businesses
All of this and more is possible when we put reparations in the center! With a $716 million budget, the city of St. Petersburg has ample room to redirect resources to economically restore the historic damages inflicted upon the black community by government policies. Discretionary funds can easily be allocated from Penny for Pinellas and the major corporations must pay a reparations tax.
The black population makes up 23 percent of our city, but is disproportionately impacted by overwhelming conditions of poverty, homelessness and police containment. With nearly 20,000 people living in the South Side of St Petersburg struggling below the federal poverty line, reparations and economic justice for the black community must be the highest priority for our city’s agenda. St. Petersburg cannot call itself a progressive city unless economic injustice for the black community is addressed and resolved.
In St. Petersburg, the district alone votes for their representatives in the primary, but the entire city votes in the general, and can override the decision of that district. This is designed to liquidate the power of the black vote by granting the majority white city the right to veto the vote of a majority black district. We want one single-member district election, to give power to the black community to determine its own representatives, running on platforms that speak to their genuine interests. This electoral system, coupled with gerrymandering the districts, violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, functioning as voter suppression, taking away the black vote. For a just solution we are calling for the return of the districts to their pre-gerrymandered boundaries.
We will build a healthy economy in this city that doesn’t tolerate real estate speculation by those outside of a neighborhood at the expense of its residents. The black community should not be forced out of this city to benefit gentrifiers and land speculators. We will allocate resources to aid black and low-income homeowners to stay in their houses and improve them. We support community commerce, home ownership and rent control. We don’t want our city to become a West Palm Beach playground for millionaires!
In the face of rampant police violence against black communities throughout the United States and here in St. Petersburg, a practical and democratic solution is black community control of the police in the black community. The police should be controlled by a democratically elected black community council with the power to hire, fire, train and discipline officers who are part of and have a stake in uplifting the black community. We are opposed to the sheriff’s department operating within St. Petersburg city limits, where they have functioned as a military presence in the black community.
Reallocate resources from the police budget towards reparations and economic development for the black community, healthcare programs, and services for the disabled, elderly and homeless. Convert the unnecessary and expensive new police station into a shelter for the homeless. The police budget currently receives more funding than any other department with over one-fifth of the city’s overall budget at more than $111 million annually. The resources in the city’s budget belongs to the people, not the corporations! We need a positive public policy of economic development versus the current public policy of police containment of the black community!
Black women in the US are about three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as others, due to a denial of access to quality healthcare. In Pinellas County, an estimated 11 out of every 1,000 babies born to black mothers died in 2017 – that’s more than double the rate of deaths of babies born to white mothers, according to the Florida Department of Health. This is almost three times higher than the average international rate of infant mortality.
The city of St. Petersburg must take the lead in overturning these grave disparities. We must fund black community-led initiatives that address the self-determined needs of black women. We must fund and implement affordable childcare services rooted in the community itself to free up black mothers to work, attend school, and have a social life.
Our city cannot abdicate responsibility for the notorious Pinellas County schools characterized as “failure factories” where black children face the second-to-lowest graduation rate in Florida and are brutally victimized by police on the campuses. We must create an independent school district under the control of an independent and democratically elected city school board. We call for the creation of real neighborhood schools. We will remove the police from our campuses and refuse to implement the recent state legislation that arms teachers! Our schools must become centers of quality education for all children.
The Kriseman administration and the developers should have to pay for the consequences of the sewage crisis they caused, not the people who were affected! We are calling for an infrastructure tax on developers who build within St. Pete city limits to fund the updates to the stormwater and sewage infrastructure.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators said they found evidence that 89 felonies and 103 misdemeanors were committed by the Kriseman administration during the infamous 2015 sewage crisis, and yet nobody in the Kriseman administration has faced a day behind bars! A City Council committee unanimously approved a plan earlier this year that increases the average customer’s monthly utility bill by $11.02, an increase of 11.5 percent, to pay for repairs to the sewage system. In October this will become even higher as the city government calculates water bills based on the square footage of a resident’s yard. Tax the developers, not the people!
We believe in Workers Power. We will implement City Worker-controlled councils that oversee decision-making in Water Resources, Sanitation and other departments. All city workers will be paid a living wage. We will eliminate a workplace environment of intimidation and harassment of workers and will not place them in unsafe work conditions.
Remove the current impediments by the Florida legislature to the restoration of voting rights for people with felonies as decided by the recent referendum. Florida’s prison system disproportionately imprisons African people at a higher rate than almost any other state in the country. Mass incarceration along with the subsequent denial of voting rights for Florida’s mostly black ex-felon population is designed to suppress the democratic rights of the black community. We oppose all forms of voter suppression of the black community!