Here’s what Defunding MN’s Police Forces Actually Means
I've heard a lot of talking about defunding the police lately.
Since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis one month ago, calls to defund the police have become nearly as loud and prevalent as Black Lives Matter. In fact, many seem to think that the BLM cause won't be recognized or solved until police forces are defunded. While I've seen many (online, anyway) join in the cries to see police forces -- in Minnesota and across the country -- defunded, I've yet to see anyone actually clarify in common terms or dialogue what defunding the police actually means. It seems to me that many think defunding the police means pulling all funds entirely and eliminating law enforcement, an idea which has been propagated in part by various businesses and organizations in Minneapolis including restaurants, breweries and school systems who have requested a complete removal of police forces from their premises and events. In my personal opinion, that seems like a dangerous idea with potential for disastrous consequences.
So what exactly does defunding the police mean?
For starters, I refer to this Facebook post I stumbled on recently that seemed to offer some clarity.
"Police will be funded, but not overfunded," the post reads. Because police are not mental health counselors, social workers, medical professionals or education specialists, defunding police means "redistribution of the city budget," and "everyone gets a fair share."
"Presenting [defunding the police] as the elimination of all funding for police is misleading and manipulative," the Facebook post emphasizes.
Sociologist Rashawn Ray -- in an article for Brookings.edu -- writes:
“Defund the police” means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. That’s it. It’s that simple. Defund does not mean abolish policing.
So what exactly may "funded but not overfunded" mean? What budget may be redistributed away from the police? Writer, speaker and filmmaker -- in his fantastic video address of racism in America -- says this regarding the militarization of police:
Between 1997 and 1999, the Pentagon handled 3.4 million orders for military equipment for more than 11,000 police agencies, including 253 aircraft...7856 M-16 Rifles, 181 grenade launchers -- grenade launchers for the police! -- 8131 bulletproof helmets, 1161 night-vision goggles.
While Minneapolis may be the latest city and police department under scrutiny, it's not the first or only.
"In recent weeks, some large municipalities with a history of police brutality have reallocated funds in line with the defund police movement," writes Ray, going on to list Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Prince George's County, Maryland as cities and counties also looking at redistributing funds away from police and towards other causes or uses.
"While the word “reallocate” may be a more palatable, digestible word on the House floor or at a city council meeting," he concludes, "'defund' surely gets more attention on a protest sign."
So, now that you have a clearer idea of what defunding the police means, what do you think -- are you in favor of it or against?