Thousands of you asked Shaun to break down what it means to defund the police, so today, in simple terms, Shaun wants to unpack and explain it for you. Shaun supports it and thinks you should too.
Policing and mass incarceration account for over 50 percent of the budget in most American cities. Billions of dollars that are meant to build and maintain communities, that should head to public schools, mental health services, homeless shelters, public housing, and many other vital infrastructures are instead being diverted to police and prisons. Annual budget cuts are forcing teachers to use their already insufficient paychecks to purchase desperately needed school supplies for their students, while law enforcement agencies get budget increases.
While people continue to protest against police brutality and white supremacy, they are beginning to pay more attention to the elements that allow police to hold the unprecedented amount of power they have. It’s all in the budget. In cities big and small, people are calling for city officials to defund the police.
“Defund the police” has become a protest battle cry. The phrase can be seen on protest signs and all over social media. Email campaigns that urge local officials to defund the police are flooding the offices of mayors and city council members across America.
The demand to defund the police is the culmination of too many failed battles for justice. People fought for policy changes. Some of those policy changes succeeded, many didn’t and most made little to no impact. People fought for police to wear body cameras only to realize that even when a fatal police encounter is caught on tape, justice is not delivered. Police are so secure in their protected invincibility they still abuse, torture and murder Black and Brown people even when there is a camera present.
The days of working within the system are done, it is time to dismantle it.
Defunding the police means taking billions of dollars from a racist system and investing that money back into the community. To defund the police is to invest in adequate homeless shelters equipped with mental health and drug rehabilitation services, instead of throwing homeless people in prison where they go unseen and forgotten. To defund the police is to invest in schools, in free nourishing breakfast and lunch for every single child, in specialized learning that ensures children with different learning needs are met. To defund the police is to fund a future where governments fulfill their service of supporting the communities that elected them.
In today’s episode, Shaun breaks down all that entails this powerful new movement to defund the police, and why it is one of the most important fights in civil rights history.