COLORADO SPRINGS — Several local activist groups converged on Acacia Park Saturday to talk money. Specifically, the city's budget, and some major changes they'd like to see come to it. “it’s our money and we should have a say over how it is spent,” Maryah Lauer said.
Lauer is a member of the Coloardo Springs chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Her organization and several other local activist groups teamed up to hold a community discussion in the park.
“It’s time for people to take the budget under their own hands,” said Jared Benson. Benson is a member of the Chinook Center, one of the groups who put on the event.
Organizers said want everyone to have a voice in the city’s budget process, and Saturday’s discussion was a community brainstorming session.
“…A community discussion to talk about what our priorities are… and just a sort of collective reimagining of what the future of the city could actually look like,” Lauer said.
They wanted to hear the community’s ideas for what they call, “a people’s budget.”
“A budget for the city of Colorado Springs going forward proposed to of course the stakeholder, city council, etc. what the people actually want, what they want to spend our tax dollars on,” Benson said.
They have a major objective of shifting city funds away from one specific area.
“We want to defund the Colorado Springs Police Department,” Lauer said.
They’d rather see that money spent on other things.
“Strengthening education, community healthcare, public transportation, housing assistance,” Lauer said.
Now that activists have gathered ideas, their next step is to draft a budget and take it to city leaders.
“Sit down and have a discussion,” Benson said. “This is what people want.”
Benson hopes the mayor and city council will agree to meet with them before the next budget gets approved.
For Lauer, this is the beginning step in a push toward a larger vision.
“Ultimately, I think we need to abolish CSPD,” Lauer said. “And ultimately the aim of abolition is to fund and resource communities, so essentially crime doesn’t happen.”