‘Undo the Harm’: San Francisco Mayor Reveals $3.75 Million Will be Redirected from Police Department Budget to Black-Owned Businesses

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Wednesday, May 5, that $3.75 million of the San Francisco Police Department’s budget will be funneled into Black-owned businesses as a result of a reinvestment by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

Breed said the money will be reallocated as part of an effort to address generations of race-based inequality in the West Coast city.

“Across this country, and in our City, we’ve seen how the Black community’s economic growth and prosperity has historically been disrupted and marginalized,” Breed said in a statement. “This funding is part our efforts to undo the harm of generations of disinvestment and economic inequities. As we work to recover and make San Francisco a better place to live, work, and do business, we have to invest our resources in a way that lifts up and supports African American small businesses owners, entrepreneurs, and the entire community.”

The investment is part of the Dream Keeper Initiative, which Breed started last year following the death of George Floyd, with the mission of redirecting $120 million from the police budget to the Black community for fiscal years 2020-21 and 2021-22.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday that $3.75 million of the San Francisco Police Department’s budget will be funneled into Black-owned businesses. Photo: CBS San Francisco Bay Area/YouTube

While the $3.75 million won’t be invested directly from the OEWD into individual businesses, 17 Black-serving community organizations have received funding to support the economic development of Black businesses in the city.

The organizations include the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Council of San Francisco, En2action, Mercy Housing California, Bayview Opera House and the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation.

In particular, the investments will be aimed at helping Black entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, and at providing recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This funding represents an investment in the community and addressing the wealth and opportunity gaps created by years of biased policies and approaches,” said Sheryl Davis, executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. “There is tremendous talent and potential that has been stifled by our biased policies and strategies; through this process we will see the implementation of creative and innovative programs that have the potential to support and benefit all of San Francisco and not just the Black community.” 

The initiative seeks to prevent Black businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic from being displaced, by providing consultations and legal guidance.

Funds will also go toward establishing an incubation hub that stimulates cultural and community business development growth through outreach and education about the resources available in San Francisco’s Black neighborhoods.

While the investments have been praised by some local leaders, Dennis Chin, a San Francisco neighborhood watch leader, criticized the initiative when speaking to the San Francisco Globe.

“Crime rates are skyrocketing,” Chin said. “Last year, because of the coronavirus, crime went down everywhere. But not here. Robberies were down everywhere else. But here? They rose 50%. Murder? Also went up. Assault? Up. Car theft? You might as well make car alarms the new anthem for the city they go off so much from break ins.”

Chin, a small business owner himself, said investing in small businesses isn’t the issue, and that the problem is taking money away from law enforcement when “we need now more than ever.”

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