Community Advocates Rally Outside City Hall to Call for a Justice-Oriented City Budget


Abolitionist Law Center: Connease Warren,, 713-304-8990
ACLU of Pennsylvania: Andy Hoover,, 717-220-3278
Amistad Law Project: Julie Rodgers,, 214-542-4117

April 9, 2024, Philadelphia, PA – A coalition of community groups rallied outside Philadelphia City Hall on Tuesday, as the City Council considered Mayor Cherelle Parker’s proposed $1.2 billion in spending on the police and prisons departments.

Faith leaders, social service providers, city workers, and civil rights activists called on the mayor and city council to invest more in social programs and services that meaningfully improve public safety. Demonstrators also demanded accountability and transparency from both the police and in Philadelphia jails.

“Imagine a Philadelphia where helpful city services are fully funded,” said Sunita Balija, a city worker and member of AFSCME DC47 Local 2187. “Imagine libraries open seven days a week and after-school programming for kids that provides a safe place to explore their worlds and minds. Imagine well-tended green spaces cared for by full-time city workers, not temps working for poverty wages.

“All of this and more is possible. But this year’s budget is a slap in the face. Why do the police get more and more funding every year when they show zero transparency, accountability, and ability to effectively serve our communities?”

The speakers at the action included Crystal Rodriguez, whose children’s father, Alexander Spencer, was killed by Philadelphia police on January 26.

“I want the Philadelphia police to know that you took something that was not only valuable to me, but also to my children,” Rodriguez said. “You deprived my kids of knowing their father. He was trying to be there for his kids, and now he is just a statistic. You were supposed to deescalate the situation, not become part of the problem. When the mayor says that she is 1001% backing the police, when she says she wants more drones, when she says she wants to put $1 billion into police, this is what it is paying for.”

One of the demands of the coalition speaking today in advance of the budget hearings is to fully fund mobile crisis teams, non-law enforcement units that can respond to a person in a mental health crisis.

“Properly-trained mobile crisis teams respond to people in a mental health crisis and provide an opportunity to build systems of community care, rather than leaving individuals on their own to figure it out or, worse, deal with a police response,” said Julia Lyon, a clinical social worker in Philadelphia who organizes the Treatment Not Trauma Coalition. “I ask all who hold positions of power in our city government to invest in people, their resilience, and our collective safety.”

Public hearings on the budget will continue through May 1.