By Manny Otiko, IVN Staff Writer
Nationwide — Black Lives Matter has become prominent for motivating the nationwide protests against police violence. But the activist group is not just against police violence. The group’s agenda includes a more radical proposal — defunding the police.
This issue is controversial. Many on the right have accused the group of proposing an idealist political view. Others have suggested their proposal will lead to anarchy. Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, have said they are against defunding the police. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif) also came out against the policy during a press conference.
“No, I don’t believe that we should defund police departments,” said Bass, who is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
However, Broderick Dunlap, a member of Black Lives Matter IE, said the proposal is more about allocating public resources.
He pointed out that in the city of Los Angeles, more than half of the budget goes to the police department, but the city still has a huge homeless problem. The money isn’t being spent where it’s needed. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has agreed to cut millions from the police budget and direct it to social services. The police department’s budget is still more than $1.1 billion.
“Here in L.A. we’re identifying $250 million, including cuts to the L.A.P.D. budget, to further invest in communities of color and confront structural racism,” said Garcetti in a statement posted to Instagram.
However, Dunlap says its still not enough.
“The police don’t need half of the city’s budget,” said Dunlap.
He said public money would be better spent on well-funded schools, healthcare clinics and parks “instead of having a cop on every corner.”
Dunlap added that the current policing system needed “a complete overhaul” and said police were more concerned about protecting property than lives.
Dunlap blamed the media and “soundbite journalism” on confusion over the group’s defunding of the police message.
“Our message is clear cut,” he added.
However, Minnesota, the city where George Floyd was killed, has already decided to move forward with dismantling its police department.
Jeremiah Ellison, a member of the Minnesota city council, said an in-depth review of police activities showed that today’s police are simply not equipped for many of the calls they are asked to deal with.
“You know, we did a study last year of 911 calls, and we realized that one of the top calls that police make are for what we call emotionally disturbed persons or mental health calls,” said Ellison in an interview with “Democracy Now!” “Do we need use of force — someone with a use-of-force background to answer that call? Do we need a gun present at a call like that? Do we need a gun present at a call for a forged $20 bill? I think that the answer to that is no.”
But what would defunding the police look like? The city of Camden, N.J. tried it and the experiment seems to be working. In 2013, the city fired its entire police force. Officers were rehired but they had to go through more stringent mental evaluations. The city replaced its police force with county officers.
Camden police also changed their tactics. Instead of simply reacting to crime, they decided to practice community policing.
“Our officers are guardians, they’re not warriors,” said Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli in an NBC New York article. “The difference is significant. We now have three times as many officers on the street, we have a model of community policing that was formed with the input of the residents of the city. We have a much safer city.”
In 2018, Camden recorded its lowest murder rate since 1987, according to Citylab.com.