Phillip Baber represented The People’s Church of Jacksonville at the Jacksonville Community Action Committee’s rally for the #peoplesbudget. Here is the statement that Phillip shared:

A budget is a moral document that reveals a community’s most deeply held values. It is therefore morally indefensible for the city of Jacksonville to continue to spend nearly half of its billion-dollar budget on policing while largely ignoring the needs of the hungry and impoverished.

Police officers serve an important function in our city. However, we must also recognize that the institution of policing has a long history of disproportionately enforcing the law against racial minorities and the poor. Occupying underfunded neighborhoods and filling prisons does not decrease crime, and using our tax dollars to promote a fear-based compliance to the law violates the most profound values of the faith I serve. My faith compels me to center the needs of our poorest and most vulnerable neighbors rather than further strengthen the might of the State. I believe each of us is called—as a child of God—to establish justice through compassion and freedom, not fear and government control.

For these reasons, my faith calls me to support the aim of Jacksonville’s People’s Budget to correct the historic over-funding of the police force and return financial resources back to our local communities by: addressing hunger and homelessness, creating living-wage jobs, assisting entrepreneurs and small business owners in Northwest Jacksonville, expanding mental health services, and revitalizing our public transportation system. True and lasting justice cannot be achieved through punitive measures that target already marginalized peoples. True and lasting justice—true and lasting peace—begins with the equitable sharing of community-resources, which is the sincerest way we can love our neighbors as ourselves.