A movement to defund police is gaining traction in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the resultant protests, some of which have seen police tactics considered heavy-handed, such as firing of rubber bullets and deploying tear gas, The Guardian reported.
Activist Jeralynn Blueford has been angling for police reform ever since her son died in Oakland police custody in 2012. She claims that she was promised reformsafter her son’s death and never got it. Further, she says that defunding budgets would get the police’s attention.
“We allowed you to kill our children, and you said this was going to change, and you reneged on it. If we keep funding them, it gives them the green light to continue,” Blueford said.
Now the movement is gaining traction.
Tony Williams, whose advocacy group, MPD150, calls for the complete abolition of the Minneapolis Police Department, said that the George Floyd protests have brought renewed attention to his ideals.
“People have been fighting for years to get cops out of schools, and now it’s happening overnight… This is unprecedented in our movement, but it is a natural consequence of where we’ve been over the last five years,” he said, while naming other recent high-profile police killings, such as those of Eric Garner or Philando Castile.
In fact, according to City Pages, the idea of disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department has reached the City Council. Councilman Steve Fletcher says that he and some colleagues are looking at the proposal.
“Several of us on the council are working on finding out what it would take to disband the Minneapolis Police Department and start fresh with a community-oriented, nonviolent public safety and outreach capacity,” he said.
Not all advocates for defunding police are calling for the complete abolition of publicly-funded municipal or state police departments. Some are calling simply for eliminating budget increases for police departments. Others are asking for partial defunding. All such groups are suggesting that money earmarked for police be reinvested in social services.
For example, in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti is looking at what some Black Lives Matter (BLM) LA members are calling a “peoples’ budget.” That plan would divert $150 million from the police budget and reinvest it in black communities, though he has been unclear about the specifics of the plan.
Melina Abdullah, the BLM LA co-founder, says that Garcetti’s proposed cuts are “minimal.”
“In moments of crisis, people want services and resources that go directly to help people rather than police that surveil, brutalize and kill us,” Abdullah said.