DBP emerged from a campaign in 2016 to stop the building of a new $71+ million police headquarters in downtown Durham. As we listened to Durham residents, Durham Beyond Policing coalition gathered over 500 signatures on a petition opposing the new police headquarters. We held a town hall forum, a rally, weekly pickets alongside Durham city workers for several months, and canvassed areas in East Durham, NC Central University, and the Bus Station to pass along our petition and gather stories about incidents between residents and the police.
In 2019, we successfully campaigned to stop the hiring of 72 new police officers and won living wages for all city workers along with $200,000 for eviction diversion. In that same year, DBP also counter-proposed and won a Community-led Safety and Wellness Task Force to conduct an extensive review of alternative systems of community safety, accountability, and harm reduction to be developed and implemented across Durham County, as well as to examine the budgets of City of Durham and Durham County to identify and propose opportunities to divest from policing and invest in what our communities really need. Read our proposal: Durham Beyond Policing coalition 2019 proposal for Community-Led Safety and Wellness Task Force.
In 2020 DBP organized to win the formation of a Community Safety and Wellness Task Force through Durham City and County government and Durham Public Schools. The City of Durham pledged $1 million to support alternatives to policing, as defined by the Task Force.
We waged a campaign to challenge taser use and successfully canceled a $600,000+ taser contract with Axon Corporation as a short-term tactic towards our longer term goal of disarming police. We were successful in our 2020 campaign to keep ShotSpotter Corporation’s gunshot detection surveillance technology out of our city, but now that dangerous corporate contract is back up for discussion for the FY 2022-23 City budget. In 2021, we joined forces with Durham For All to wage the 10 to Transform campaign and successfully won the reallocation of five policing vacancies to the new Community Safety Department in the City budget and the allocation of $1 million additional dollars for mental healthcare in the County budget.
Creating alternatives without asking the residents of Durham to call for what they really want and need would be a missed opportunity to practice democratic participation and shift power. A commitment to abolition requires a deep belief in and reverence for people’s abilities to name their own problems and create their own solutions when provided the necessary resources. DBP is committed to building alternatives to policing by mobilizing the abundant resources and vibrant networks that already bind our communities together. We create participatory, creative, culturally rooted processes where people most impacted by policing in our city can imagine different conditions and figure out the best ways to attain them together.
Durham Beyond Policing has evolved from campaign (2016) to coalition (2019) to organization (2021). When we were a coalition, our organizations were Black Youth Project 100 Durham chapter (BYP100); Southerners On New Ground (SONG) Durham chapter; UE 150 Durham City Workers Union; SpiritHouse/ Harm Free Zone; Jewish Voice for Peace Triangle chapter; Communities in Partnership (CIP); All Of Us Or None Durham chapter; and Triangle Showing Up for Racial Justice (TSURJ), and we remain in strong, grateful relationship with each of these organizations. We are honored to partner with other groups wherever possible.