Silicon Valley DSA condemns the racist, dismissive, and insensitive statements made by Redwood City Councilwoman Diana Reddy in response to widespread public calls to defund the police. Since June, thousands of people around the country and right here in Redwood City have called to defund and descope the police and have asked for concrete action to address systemic and entrenched abuse of marginalized communities by the police. In response, Councilwoman Reddy has made a series of comments that show not only a lack of basic understanding of this issue, but indicate a pattern of disregarding and actively disparaging community members who came forward to share their concerns.
In June, in the immediate aftermath of the police murders of George Floyd and Rashard Brooks, Councilwoman Reddy responded to public calls for the defunding and descoping of the Redwood City Police Department by stating her belief that “such an incident wouldn’t happen in Redwood City because our department’s focus on community policing standards and the understanding that residents would not call police for help if they’re more afraid of the police than they are their tormentors.” Despite first-hand accounts of police misconduct offered by community members and reports indicating that Redwood City is not, in fact, different, Councilwoman Reddy has repeatedly doubled down on this assertion, citing her positive experience in multiple public relations stunts in which she had participated with the police. She also equated the struggle of marginalized people with calls for scrutiny of unchecked police force, saying “I encourage people not to paint people of color, or homeless, or people living in RVs, with a broad brush. And I also encourage us not to paint all police departments with a broad brush.”
Most recently, at the October 5 City Council Special Study Session on racial equity and policing, Councilwoman Reddy went further. In addition to her blanket dismissal of public calls for descoping and defunding the police, she also took the opportunity both to praise a white supremacist rally that was held September 25 for being “peaceful” and to slander anti-racist counterprotesters who were targeted by police at the same event. She was joined in these comments by Councilman Ian Bain and Mayor Diane Howard, and the rest of the City Council was complicit in letting these statements pass without being called out.
These remarks are abhorrent. They show a blatant disregard for the needs and demands of the public whom the City Council serves, and they are fundamentally out of touch with both the nature of the problem and with the communities seeking relief. Councilwoman Reddy’s remarks are especially inexcusable given the backdrop of widely reported and ongoing police abuse across the country and here in Redwood City, and given the City Council’s failure to take any meaningful action to address the public’s demands on the issue.
As a first step in redressing this harm, SV DSA calls on Councilwoman Reddy to immediately take the following actions:
- Issue a public apology for her statements.
- By November 16, introduce a proposal to move Redwood City to a participatory budgeting system starting in 2021, so that the public can have direct input into how the city spends its funds.
- Introduce proposals to remove law enforcement officers from the city’s traffic enforcement, mental health responses, and interactions with unhoused residents.
- Publicly commit to making sure that any upcoming budget cuts will come 100% from the Redwood City Police Department and not from any other city services or programs so long as there are funds remaining in the RCPD budget.
- Publicly commit to voting against any future city budgets that do not begin the process of redirecting funds from the RCPD into life-affirming, non-police community services.
Given SV DSA’s 2018 endorsement and subsequent role in electing Councilwoman Reddy to office, we expected much better of her.
Silicon Valley DSA subjects all candidates seeking endorsement to an extensive series of questions regarding their positions on a variety of issues and beliefs. During the endorsement process, Diana Reddy affirmed she supported the Movement for Black Lives platform, which includes a divestment from the police and investment in Black communities and providing community control of the laws, institutions, and policies meant to serve the impacted community, including participatory budgeting at the local level. SV DSA’s endorsement is not a box to check; we expect our elected officials to live up to the claims and promises they make, and we pledge to hold them accountable when they fail.
As socialists, we fight for a world free of racism, oppression, and exploitation; one without institutions whose primary charge is to defend the unearned wealth and well-being of a racial capitalist ruling class, including policing and imprisonment.