Two major calls to action have emerged in the current uprising against police brutality triggered by the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor—not to mention the numerous incidents of cops around the country violently cutting down peaceful protesters and members of the media alike.
Protestors in cities across the country have been calling for government officials to commit to defunding police departments.
It’s a proposal that has long been put forward by racial justice activists, given that the U.S. spends in excess of $115 billion a year on policing—more than it does on public services like education, mental health, and housing. The evidence of cops across the country armed in riot gear and supplies of teargas have served to only intensify the stance of many that the way to end police violence is to stop funding it.
An open-letter and petition being circulated by black organizers across the country calls on local leaders to:
- Vote no on all increases to police budgets
- Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets
- Vote yes to increase spending on Health care, education and community programs that keep us safe.
Some elected officials seem to be listening.
Earlier this week Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would cut a planned $100-$150 million increase for the budget of the LAPD after activists rallied outside of his home, Forbes reported.
Others have been less willing to commit to defunding police. In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, Mayor Jacob Frey was booed by protestors when he refused to say he would defund the city’s police department:
Rather than agreeing to decrease taxpayer funded spending on police, most elected officials have been signaling their support for reforms guided towards curbing police violence.
The most popular of these reforms is list of eight that have been put forward by prominent black activists from Campaign Zero, and have been been supported by former President Barack Obama:
In Chicago, where protestors have also been pushing for a decrease in police spending, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has shown support for the eight reform recommendations instead:
But more than one thread on Twitter has challenged the veracity of the data being used to push the reforms, which asserts that they have been proven to reduce police violence by 72 per cent:
Others black activists have challenged the proposal’s basic premise that interim reforms—already in place in many police departments across the country—is enough to protect those impacted by police brutality:
Meanwhile, officials in Minneapolis are moving forward with introducing some of the #8CantWait reforms in the wake of the horrific police killing of George Floyd that was captured on video.
On Friday the city council voted to ban chokeholds and neck restraints by cops and to require police to try to stop any colleagues they see using improper force, AP reported.
The Minneapolis agreement requires court approval and would become enforceable in court, unlike the department’s current policies, which already cite the duty of sworn employees to stop or try to stop inappropriate force or force no longer needed.