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Protesters Petition To DEFUND The Police, But What Does That Actually Mean?

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As protests across the nation continue, protesters are now demanding the defunding of the police! But, what does that mean? More inside…

Protesters across the nation have been calling to DEFUND the police! The new movement comes amid protests for George Floyd – the Minneapolis man who was killed after a white officer pressed his knee in the back of his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Not only that, police in Louisville killed a black EMT worker named Breonna Taylor during a botched raid.

The reckless and deadly use of force by the police has citizens calling for local governments to start defunding police departments.

 

 

So, what does “defund the police” mean? For starters, it does NOT mean get rid of police departments entirely. Instead of spending millions of dollars to fund a police department, defunding the police would send back a portion of their excessive allotted budgets to the city’s budget for things like better schools, after school programs, mental health facilities – basically more money would be poured into addressing the roots of criminal activity (issues surrounding inequalities in education, minimum wage, etc.) and also would better serve the community.

"It’s not just about taking away money from the police, it’s about reinvesting those dollars into black communities. Communities that have been deeply divested from, communities that, some have never felt the impact of having true resources. And so we have to reconsider what we’re resourcing. I've been saying we have an economy of punishment over an economy of care," Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, told WBUR.

Billions of dollars are being poured into police departments and most officers aren’t balling out of control, so who’s actually getting the money? Questions like this lead to further investigation into how money is spent by police (reportedly majority is for weapons and other defensive measures).  And until money is properly spent, the police departments maybe shouldn't receive $3B budgets where they still seem to be in disarray.

L.A.'s Mayor Eric Garcetti announced he would moving to defund the LAPD by $100-$150M for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.  This announcement comes after they were awarded an $1.8B budget this past year, up about $122 million from last year.

Three City Council members, Council President Nury Martinez as well as councilmen Herb Wesson and Curren Price, filed an official motion today to cut the budget.

"The city of Los Angeles is in the midst of a health and economic pandemic unlike any we have ever seen in our lifetimes," Martinez said.

"Following the gruesome murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, we are also in the midst of a social and racial justice crisis of epic proportions, where the good people of Los Angeles as well as the nation are asking their leaders to re-examine our priorities and to commit to taking a giant leap forward in recognizing and ending racism against black Americans."

Martinez said the budget reduction is "just one aspect of change," and that to end racism will take broader and ideological changes.

"Ultimately, we cannot talk about change, we have to be about change," the council president said.

Minneapolis has already started making steps towards dismantling their police force. The NY Times reports:

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council — a veto-proof majority — pledged on Sunday to dismantle the Police Department, promising to create a new system of public safety in a city where law enforcement has long been accused of racism.

Saying that the city’s policing system could not be reformed, the council members stood before hundreds of people gathered late in the day on a grassy hill and promised to begin the process of taking apart the Police Department as it now exists.

For activists who have been pushing for years for drastic changes to policing, the move represented a turning point that they hope will lead to a transformation of public safety in the city. 

It's clear the system that's in place now IS NOT working.

 

 

In 2012, Camden, New Jersey dissolved its police department and replaced it with a new one after corruption rendered the existing agency unfixable. Before the police reform, Camden was named as of the most violent cities in the U.S.

After they got rid of their police force, guess what happened? Well, the city's crime dropped by close to half. Camden is totally different now where officers have built a relationship with the people they police. Officers host outdoor parties for residents and knock on doors to introduce themselves. It's a radically different Camden than it was even a decade ago. Sweet.

As people continue to call for local governments to defund the police, several celebrities have added their name to a petition, which is an open open letter urging local governments to decrease police budgets in favor of spending more on health care, education, and other community programs. So far, John Legend, Common, The Weeknd, Lizzo, Yara Shahidi, Taraji P. Henson, Talib Kweli, and others have signed the letter to seek change.

The letter reads in part:

The COVID-19 deaths and the deaths caused by police terror are connected and consequential to each other. The United States does not have a national healthcare system. Instead, we have the largest military budget in the world, and some of the most well-funded and militarized police departments in the world, too. Policing and militarization overwhelmingly dominate the bulk of national and local budgets. In fact, police and military funding has increased every single year since 1973, and at the same time, funding for public health decreased every year, crystallized most recently when the Trump administration eliminated the US Pandemic Response Team in 2018, citing “costs”.

Black communities are living in persistent fear of being killed by state authorities like police, immigration agents or even white vigilantes who are emboldened by state actors. According to the Urban Institute, in 1977, state and local governments spent $60 billion on police and corrections . In 2017, they spent $194 billion. A 220 percent increase. Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer.

Where could that money go? It could go towards building healthy communities, to the health of our elders and children,to neighborhood infrastructure, to education, to childcare, to support a vibrant Black future. The possibilities are endless.

We join in solidarity with the freedom fighters in Minneapolis, Louisville, and across the United States. And we call for the end to police terror.

You can join in on the movement and sign your name HERE.

Neither Trump nor Joe Biden support defunding the police.

"There won't be defunding. There won't be dismantling of our police," Trump said.

"I don't support defunding the police," Joe Biden said. "I support conditioning federal aide to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness."

Also...

There's a group of congressional lawmakers who want to ban police from using tear gas, on protestors, which we all saw happen countless times since the George Floyd protests launched. in the latest effort to restrict law enforcement’s use of chemical and other “less lethal” weapons on civilians.

The LA Times reports:

Federal funding would be denied to police agencies that refuse to comply with the ban and dispose of tear gas in their arsenal under legislation to be proposed Thursday by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Mark Takano of Riverside and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago.

“Last week, people were just so shocked to see this administration tear-gas its own people. Tear gas is a chemical weapon that is used in war,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a phone call with the other lawmakers and the Los Angeles Times this week. “It is one of the most basic steps we can take.”

Police are supposed to follow manufacturers’ instructions and deploy tear gas when people have a clear exit route, but that did not appear to be the case in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and other sites of recent peaceful protests where participants and journalists were injured.

A White House spokeswoman has denied that tear gas was used against protesters in Washington as police cleared a park in advance of a visit by President Trump to a nearby church last week.

“The administration denied they were using it, but indeed they found there were cartridges marked ‘CS,’” another term for tear gas, Takano said.

Hmph. We can't understand why police are so quick to throw "tear gas" on peaceful protestors, but maybe those were orders given from the higher ups...

Photo: Fiora Watts/Shutterstock.com

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