Many households received the postcard from Citizens Against Defunding the Police, urging voters to vote “No” on the ballot referendum stating, “Shall the Village of Oak Park Defund Its Policing Department?”

Their message is clear: Oak Park voters should be scared of the election results unless there is a resounding “No” to defund the police. We should be scared if any trustees, other than the slate on the postcard, are elected. We should be scared and vote to stay “safe.”

I’m angry reading this postcard message promoting fear. The history of this referendum decries an unwillingness to listen and be open to problem-solving.

In August, Black and Brown Oak Park youth promoted the phrase, “Defund the Police.” A resolution (RES 20-201) was proposed, and defeated, that suggested reducing the police budget and using the funds to create a non-police response team for mental health crises, homelessness, and domestic disturbances. There were no specifics on the size of the budget changes. The proposed resolution voted on by the village trustees last August was a call to listen and have a conversation.

August’s resolution ended with the following statement:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Village Board of Trustees commits to work in full support of diversity, equity and inclusion with the participation of the community as we take action to reimagine community safety so that everyone in our village has the freedom to thrive.

The intent of the August resolution was to start the conversation. Oak Park needs the conversation. Let’s work to achieve “community safety so that everyone in our village has the freedom to thrive.”

I can vote for that, but it’s not on the ballot.

Using the current ballot referendum to scare us creates fear for those of us who want to see “community safety so that everyone in our village has the freedom to thrive.” Let’s choose to live into our values of diversity, equity and inclusion by ignoring fear-mongering’s call to influence our vote, and choose to reimagine community safety for all.

Lois Thiessen Love, Oak Park

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