Thousands of Americans are marching on the streets with “Defund the Police” banners. As calls come to reduce or stop government funding of police departments, politicians are slashing police budgets. Will this trend spread across the entire U.S., or will it be limited to just a few areas?
What is Defund the Police?
Soon after the tragic death of George Floyd, peaceful protests and violent riots popped up across the country. Protesters have told governments to reduce the amount of money given to the police. Some went as far as calling for the police to be completely abolished. Hundreds of protesters have declared their own country in Seattle, called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) or Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). Here is one of CHAZ’s chief demands:
“The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition.”
Reactions and Actions
Many left-wing politicians and activists have disputed that this phrase means to reduce law enforcement’s budget or get rid of police from society. Some have said it’s about giving more dollars for social services, reform, and rethinking how to achieve public safety.
President Donald Trump opposes cutting police budgets, but he passed an executive order that reforms police conduct. Former Vice President Joe Biden has also come out against defunding the police, calling for cops to get more funding.
The reaction at state and local levels have mostly been about cutting funding for police departments. For example, New York City is considering $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD’s budget.
Opponents argue that this will make cities, especially black communities, less safe. Others have suggested that funds could be better used, perhaps going to better training or mental health care for officers.
A Real Conversation
Like everything else in today’s political debates, both sides are trying to summarize a subject into 280 characters. In this case, the issues are police brutality and reforms. Will a blunt statement of “defund the police” bring positive change, or is a bigger conversation needed?