America Protests Washington

A worker power washes graffiti off of a statue in Lafayette Park, Monday, June 8, 2020, near the White House in Washington, after days of protest over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Protesters are pushing to “defund the police” over the death of George Floyd and other black Americans killed by law enforcement. Their chant has become a rallying cry — and a stick for President Donald Trump to use on Democrats as he portrays them as soft on crime.

But what does “defund the police” mean? It’s not necessarily about gutting police department budgets. Still, some activists and lawmakers have also raised the possibility of completely disbanding police departments, clouding the more complicated message.

Supporters say it isn’t about eliminating police departments or stripping agencies of all of their money. They say it is time for the country to address systemic problems in policing in America and spend more on what communities across the US need, like housing and education.

State and local governments spent $115 billion on policing in 2017, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute.

“Why can’t we look at how it is that we reorganize our priorities, so people don’t have to be in the streets during a national pandemic?” Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza asked during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Activists acknowledge this is a gradual process.

The group MPD150, which says it is “working towards a police-free Minneapolis,” argues that such action would be more about “strategically reallocating resources, funding, and responsibility away from police and toward community-based models of safety, support, and prevention.”

What are lawmakers saying?

Sen. Cory Booker said he understands the sentiment behind the slogan, but it’s not a slogan he will use.

The New Jersey Democrat told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he shares a feeling with many protesters that Americans are “over-policed” and that “we are investing in police, which is not solving problems, but making them worse when we should be, in a more compassionate country, in a more loving country.”

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said part of the movement is really about how money is spent.

“Now, I don’t believe that you should disband police departments,” she said in an interview with CNN. “But I do think that, in cities, in states, we need to look at how we are spending the resources and invest more in our communities.

President Donald Trump and his campaign view the emergence of the “Defund the Police” slogan as a spark of opportunity during what has been a trying political moment. Trump’s response to the protests has sparked widespread condemnation. But now his supporters say the new mantra may make voters, who may be otherwise sympathetic to the protesters, recoil from a “radical” idea.

Trump ramped up his rhetoric on the issue on Monday, tweeting: “LAW & ORDER, NOT DEFUND AND ABOLISH THE POLICE. The Radical Left Democrats have gone Crazy!”

Trump’s 2016 campaign was built on a promise of ensuring law and order — often in contrast to protests against his rhetoric that followed him across the country. As he seeks reelection, Trump is preparing to deploy the same argument again — and seems to believe the “defund the police” call has made the campaign applause line all the more real for his supporters.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to cut as much as $150 million that was part of a planned increase in the police department’s budget.

Generally, police and union officials have long resisted cuts to police budgets, arguing that it would make cities less safe.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union for the city’s rank-and-file officers, said budget cuts would be the “quickest way to make our neighborhoods more dangerous.”

“Cutting the LAPD budget means longer responses to 911 emergency calls, officers calling for back-up won’t get it, and rape, murder and assault investigations won’t occur or will take forever to initiate, let alone complete,” the union’s Board said in a statement last week.

(2) comments

Jimzan

There are a ton of people that believe in "guns" and "god" that see the police as an obstacle between them, and the Dems that wish to control guns. These people would love nothing more (salivating if you will) than removing the barrier that the police provide. What moron thinks removing the Police is the answer...lol someone that is waiting to break into your house? The Left has become 'SO" desperate they would lick the ground to find "anything" would help them regain power...Take a hard look at how trash rolls...when it becomes..."power hungry" and "desperate".

Spirit

Maybe instead of ranting about the left, you could actually read this story and other descriptions about what de-funding the police really means.

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